Writing my Anxiety story here is the first time I would’ve written it all down publicly and for the world to see. I want to introduce you to Projectenergise.com by telling you my anxiety story because it’s what got me here today and I know that reading other peoples stories can bring you comfort when you’re dealing with it yourself.
I want Projectenergise.com to be more than just anxiety and low mood, I want it to be about managing it and moving past it by being the best version of you. If you can relate to anything I’m about to say then I want you to join the community and use this space to vent and communicate with others.
I want Projectenergise.com to help as many people as possible by telling you what I’ve learnt over the years to manage my anxiety and worry…
So…On with the story.
Since I was young I would always feel a ‘little off’ and ‘down’, I could always tell there was something holding me back in my head like a kind of niggling worry that would impose itself on me. I was a very shy child and these days I wonder if it’s because I was in fact anxious, even then.
What I do remember about being very young is probably getting to the age of six to which I would then start to feel this way. I’d worry about my parents dying (which I know is a common thought for a young child) but I’d start to feel anxious about everyday situations. I didn’t want to go to school and was distraught when my parents dropped me off there.
I’d always think into things too much and that’s what caused me to worry, I would think about all the bad things that might happen in any situation and it’s a feeling that stuck with me most of my life.
By the time I was twelve I’d started to really worry about things, so much so that I didn’t want to always take part in things others were doing. I was good at football and rugby, but I didn’t want to go to training because I felt like I didn’t belong there or I didn’t deserve to because I thought I wasn’t good enough. The idea of being in a large group of people that counted on me to do well was all too much for me and I know now that I was socially anxious.
Doing activities like this was an unbearable thought and now I was twelve I would be going to secondary school. High school was a hard time for me. On the first day I felt sick to my stomach with fear and anxiety, meeting new people and being tied to a school for four years was my ultimate nightmare. It was more people than I was used to at my nice little primary school and a lot of people I wouldn’t normally talk to.
You see – I was quite happy with my little group of friends, I didn’t want to have to get to know a whole new bunch of people.
As I progressed through school there were many ups and downs. I could see other kids having a lot of fun and going off to do things. However I didn’t always want to take part in these activities but I never really knew why. It turns out I had major social anxiety and I could never quite relax when with a big group of friends and so I just avoided these occasions all together.
Eventually, and after what felt like a lifetime, the end of school came and it was time for college. By the end of school I had finally gotten used to the role of going to school to learn five days a week with a bunch of people you don’t particularly like or want o be around!
It’s safe to say that the six week break between school and college would be the best time I’d ever had. It was a funny time because I ended up meeting new people that my brother already knew and I became good friends with many of them. I thought I was finally getting over my anxieties and growing up a little bit.
The six week holiday was filled with lots of barbecues, adventures and beers down the beach. I had a blast and being anxious wasn’t really on my mind at all.
Then Everything Changed…
Soon enough it was time to start college. I decided ‘everyone goes to college so I must to right?’ The problem was, I had no idea what I wanted to do, I literally picked subjects I thought I would enjoy. I remember going into college for the first time with my mum to choose the subjects I wanted to learn for the next two years.
Thing was…I didn’t care about any of them. I really did not care for or have any interest in the subjects that were on offer. I didn’t know what my passions or interests were at that time and so it made it really hard to make a vision for myself. I’d spent the whole time at school drifting through lessons because I had to not because I knew I was working towards something greater in the future.
This lack of vision for my life alone was a huge player in why I was anxious. When you don’t feel like you have any direction in your life it seems that everyone around you does, and this can get you down. A lot of people would have school, college and university planned out..
I ended up taking media studies and sport. However again, I wasn’t really that interested in them at all. I picked to subjects I thought I’d be able to bare for the next two years of my life.
A few months into college, things started to get really bad and my anxiety shot through the roof. I don’t know if it’s because it felt more real than school, and I still had no ambitions, but I had an anxious turn that would bring me to my knees.
It started off with a dread for getting myself on the train and into college. Because I didn’t care about the subjects, I felt like I didn’t belong in the classes. I wasn’t interested and so I didn’t try as hard as the others. In sports class everyone belong to a club except me. I’d literally taken the class because I’ve always been an active guy but I felt like I stuck out. This was now what I think was a big contributor to my social anxiety back then.
In media studies there were guys and girls that loved reading and of course media. I, did not. I’d never even finished a book by that point and I had no interest in journalism or the media. Again, this was a huge contributor to my overall.
I always thought I’d have things figured out by this point in my life so now that I didn’t, the anxiety of this thought made me want to crawl up in my bed and stay there. After all, who wants to spend their life doing something they don’t actually care about? That was always my ultimate fear but I was too paralysed by anxiety to discover what it was that I wanted.
The Tipping Point…
I remember the day I had my first anxiety attack well – Like any other day, I had got myself up and out the door by 8. I was feeling very anxious that morning about going into college but tried not to give it much thought. Making my way down the road to the station I began to feel overwhelmingly anxious and paranoid. I hated being exposed on the side of the road for everyone to look at as they passed in their cars.
Getting about half way down the road my thoughts started to do darker in my head.
‘Can I really sit there all day? They must know I don’t belong their’.
Then, all of a sudden, everything went hazy. If you’ve ever had bad anxiety you’ll know what I mean by this. It’s a feeling as if you’re not really there but instead watching yourself in a hazy mist.
You don’t feel like anything is real and you feel completely detached from reality.
I was honestly very scared by this and so I turned and made my way back home. As soon as I got back home I burst into tears. The thing is – I had no Idea what was wrong with me and I started to think I was going ‘crazy’.
Was I going mad?
Thankfully, my mum was still home. I broke down when she asked me what was wrong and explained that I thought I was going insane…
Honestly, it felt like all the anxiousness and worry had been building up my whole life to this final breaking point and the damage seemed like it was irreversible.
As I sat there talking to my mum with my head in my hands, she started to explain that she thought I was experiencing anxiety. At this point I still had little knowledge of what anxiety was and how powerful it can be on someones state of mind.
Seeing I was clearly very distressed, she began to make arrangements to see a doctor. She explained that you could get medication and that she had been on them for a number of years herself…
That moment changed everything for me…
To know that someone else suffered from anxiety, especially my own mother, made me suddenly feel not so alone anymore. The problem I’d had for far too long was feeling isolated and like I was the only person in the world going through it. So how could anyone understand?
That’s the main reason I’m sharing my anxiety story with you. Reading about someone else’s experience can help you feel not so alone and misunderstood. I started doing research – looking into anxiety and the causes of it. Another great way to overcome or manage your anxiety to just learn about the condition and try to understand how it works and what might trigger it off.
I’d never been on medication before, especially for a mental health condition, and this was a long-term deal. I was going to have to take them every day for the rest of my life.
The day soon came on Saturday to visit the Doctor. Sitting down to speak to the doctor I felt like I was pouring out everything I felt to a brick wall. My mum was with me and so she tried to explain that she was on medication and she advised the doctor that I might need to try it. I was up for it, after all, I would of done anything to get rid of this constant hazy feeling I’d felt since my anxiety attack.
As I spoke to the doctor about how I’d been feeling I got the impression that he wasn’t particularly trained in the subject. I felt this way because soon enough, he reached for his prescription book and gave me slip for a one-size-fits all note for anti-depressants.
Although I was up fro trying anything, I couldn’t believe I was 17 and I was going to have to take these pills for the rest of my life if I wanted to feel good within myself. Surely a little white pill can’t take this feeling away?
I made my way to the pharmacy to purchase these anti-depressants and took one as soon as I got home.
And…so began my journey to recovery.
To my surprise, after taking the medication for a couple of weeks, my Haziness cleared right up. However, it was replace by something just as bad! Of course, you may experience different results than me but after talking with many suffers I have heard may similar claims after taking medication.
I began to feel less anxious but I also began to feel any kind of feeling and I was ultimately numb. Although I’d been anxious most of my life, I now felt hardly anything. I found it hard to get excited about things, to connect with people and generally feel like I was alive and kickin’.
I soon realised that the medication had blanketed my emotions and instead of stripping away just my anxiety, it had completely leveled me out to the point where I wasn’t sad but I was happy either. This has always been a problem and has stuck around for a long time ever since coming off of medication.
Long story short, I was on medication for over two years. At my own fault, I used to miss quite a few days of doses here and there and I wan’t prepared for what would happen when I did this…
I became highly agitated, angry and aggressive. I wasn’t so much anxious or feeling down, I literally just used to work myself up into an angry rage over stupid little things.
I saw myself as having two options…
When I knew Things Had To Change
I thought my two options were;
- Continue to take anti-depressants and feel numb and run the risk of missing doses and becoming angry
- Come off medication and become highly anxious, probably more so than I was before.
I literally felt lost, and now I was 18 I was looking for a proper job and to sort myself out.
Was my anxiety going to dictate how the rest of my life was going to pan out? Was I going to spend the rest of my life feel low and on edge? It took me a long time to except what I’m about to say but it’s the moment everything changed for me…
My anxiety was not going anywhere fast.
When I finally came to terms with the fact that my anxiety was here to stay, I actually felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. Instead of fighting against it, I embraced it. As soon as I embraced it, I learnt how to manage it.
Of course this is my anxiety story, and you may have different beliefs but I’m here to give you my experience to try and help you and drag you out of the rut you might be currently in.
The thing I learned is, when you learn to accept something you can straight away learn to move pass it and deal with it.
Throughout my experience with anxiety and low mood which had followed me across my whole life, I always had a low self image of myself. Like I previously said, I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere and didn’t think I was good enough to be doing things that others were doing. Ultimately, I was a big introvert.
I vividly remember sitting in my bedroom, upset, anxious as hell and worried about being like that the rest of my life. I thought about my 30’s 40’s and beyond and couldn’t see passed feeling anxious my whole life. After all if I’d felt like this my whole life, why would the rest of my life be any different?
It’s so easy to get stuck in the present, not knowing what the future holds, and as you know now, that was a huge part of my thought-process growing up.
So I was sitting on my bed, thinking these thoughts when I had a burst of clarity – I was not going to let this condition dictate how I felt and how my life was going to pan out. Why should I? Why me? I DESERVE a normal life, to be confident, to be outgoing, to turn from an introvert into an outgoing person. I had things to offer the world and I wasn’t going to let this stop me trying to be the best me.
Making The Change
Maybe it was the stubbornness in me, or maybe it was the ‘head-strong-guy-who-missed-his-anti-depressant-doses guy’ inside me.
I just couldn’t accept it because what kind of life would I live if I let it decide how I would spend my life? No, I was going to take control and become a better me, one with ambitions and goals. If my life purpose was non-existent or difficult to discover, I was going to carve out my destiny and goals myself.
You see, I’ve always wanted to purpose to my life, I mean, who doesn’t? One thing I found that gives me great satisfaction is helping people.
I decided I was going to take up drawing again because this was a passion of mine that I’d ignored since becoming an adult and parent. However I didn’t want to just draw in my sketchbook. I wanted to share it with the world and to do something outgoing. That’s when I turned to YouTube.
I’d dabbled with online video creation for a while but now I wanted to share my talents and passion with the world to connect with like minded people. I decided I was going to create my channel to share my work with others and if it help anyone with their art then that would be rewarding enough.
This really pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me face up to my insecurities. When you’re publicly judged, especially online, it can have a good or bad effect on you. For some, it can make them feel like shit about themselves if people leave mean comments. Sue I’ve had the odd mean comment but the majority have been great. I’ve now helped millions of people across the globe to draw better and that’s something that I feel really proud of.
It’s not just the fact that I’ve helped them, but I’ve inspired them to start doing something creative. That alone makes me happy and gives me a sense of purpose and enjoyment. Like I said, when I’m helping others and sharing what I’m good at, I feel very rewarded and satisfied.
What I soon learnt was, when I focused my energy into something I was truly passionate about, my anxieties would subside. I get really into things and can’t stop thinking about them, so when I became hooked at drawing again after so many years of not, it was like rediscovering it and it was all that was on my mind. Since then, I’ve gained a love for blogging and website development. All of these new found passions have contributed to my overall happiness and fulfilment which together with some other lifestyle changes, have helped me overcome my anxiety and focus on what I want and actually care about.
The second biggest key in my recovery was practising powerful mindfulness techniques. Becoming fully conscious and aware of anxious feelings allowed me to open my mind from a different viewpoint and understand that my thoughts come and go and they do not need to have emotion attached to them.
You can find plenty of information on mindfulness on this site.
Here’s to your ultimate success – Sean