Anxiety can be a lonely place but it doesn’t have to be
Anxietya feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.
That is the official definition of the word anxiety and I think it’s pretty spot on but it is also quite a weak definition when it comes to mental health. Feeling nervous and a bit uneasy is very different to the feeling of a full on anxiety attack. They happen differently for everyone but for me they start with me feeling like my legs are going numb, my breathing quickens and I suddenly feel very alone with my thoughts. I can be in a room full of people; people I know or people I don’t but the same loneliness feeling comes over me. One of the main coping techniques that is well documented when you are having an anxiety attack is to tell someone, to talk about it. But that isn’t always easy is it? You could be at a party with friends and it just doesn’t feel like a time where you can just blurt it out. Or maybe you’re at soft play with your kids and standing up in a room full of kids and stressed parents announcing you are feeling anxious isn’t really something that is done. So, if you are a Mum like me you tend to just deal with it. You dig deep for that last bit of control over your body you have and breath through it, distract yourself, give yourself a talking to, whatever it is that works for you. Sometimes I just get the hell out of there.
It is hard not to feel lonely when you are feeling anxious. It is especially hard to admit you’re not coping and that anxiety is taking over your life when you have children. So many parents struggle with their anxiety alone every single day because they are too scared of being judged, sometimes it can be as serious as worrying that their children will be taken away from them.
Anxiety is lonely. When I am having a particularly anxious day a lot of my normal rational thinking goes out of the window. I can seem extreme to people around me or over emotional and sensitive to things going on around me.
I struggled with anxiety alone for a long time. I didn’t want to admit that I was having trouble coping with my own babies. I read so many things that told me to talk to people, to try and help people understand why you were behaving in a certain way and to let those people be there for you and help you. But I couldn’t do it. So many times I psyched myself up to do it and I stopped myself at the last minute convincing myself that my friends and my family didn’t need to hear my worries because they were having enough of their own. They wouldn’t understand I decided and even if they tried to I couldn’t really explain it and it would just sound like a bit of worry. I couldn’t bear to hear people say to me to not worry about what hadn’t happened yet or just to try not to think about it because I knew my anxiety was bigger than that. I knew it was bigger than me.
But one day I talked. I have written about it before and right there in that moment, something lifted. I didn’t feel judged, I didn’t feel like people thought I was being a bit soft and should just get on with it. And most importantly I didn’t feel lonely. The more I spoke about it and the more I wrote about it too people would say that they thought they had felt like that after having their baby or that they knew someone else who was suffering with anxiety. For the first time I felt like people had my back, that I wasn’t alone in this crazy new experience that I was having that even I didn’t fully understand. They were there for me and my hand felt held.
So as I sit here typing this after a day of quite bad anxiety clenching my teeth (a symptom of my anxiety which then gives me a headache…joy!) I feel a little less alone with my thoughts. I have messaged my best friend and just in conversation said that I felt anxious; we haven’t had a big deep and meaningful about it because she knows that’s not what I need. She just asks if she can do anything and I say no, knowing full well she has done more than she realises by just allowing me to tell her.
When we are going through things like anxiety we can often become a bit selfish and get frustrated at peoples misunderstanding of the word anxiety and annoyed that they don’t understand how we are feeling but really how will they ever understand if we don’t tell them? It’s unfair to expect someone to understand something they have never experienced unless it is explained to them.
Whether you find that understanding in your friends and family or reading a blog like this or following an anxiety sufferers Instagram account it will help. Talking will make you feel less alone, sometimes just putting it out there and saying it out loud can ease the symptoms sometimes.
Anxiety can be a lonely place to be in but it doesn’t have to be.
If you are suffering with anxiety and feeling alone please don’t hesitate to get in contact with me. I’m always around (especially on Instagram!)