*This post may contain triggers as it discusses mental health and eating.*
Over the past couple of years I have lived with anxiety. It does feel good to finally say it after denying it to myself for so long. I have been wondering whether to share this for a while, but it feels wrong not to talk about it especially when I share my other experiences with you. This is absolutely not a sympathy post and to friends and family who didn’t already know, hopefully this will help you to understand. Who knows, maybe this will also help or resonate with someone.
I have always been a bit of a worrier, especially around travelling far distances and (maybe TMI) worrying that there may not be a toilet. Writing that down sounds very trivial, but I think that was my first sign of over worrying. I did this constantly when I was little, to the point of hysteria. I controlled the thoughts better when I got older but it is definitely still there. I always get teased by friends and family about needing to find a toilet, but I never really contributed the thoughts to my anxiety until recently as it was just a part of me!
The most recent revelation for me is that I am not suffering with IBS as I thought. I had tried cutting things out of my diet, even doing FODMAP and no food in particular seemed to trigger my stomach pains other than really greasy foods. I had been to the doctors about IBS and tried all sorts of remedies. As it turns out, these physical symptoms were actually a result of my anxiety all along.
As a result of the physical stomach symptoms, anxiety around eating out with others has become one of my main anxiety inducing situations, along with big social gatherings. I would get to the point that I would either need to leave or feel utterly sick to stomach where I couldn’t eat a single bite. These physical symptoms often present themselves in long car journeys too. For the longest time I had been so reluctant to accept I had anxiety because I used to absolutely love going out for food and seeing my friends and family. But anxiety can be a cruel beast and has told my brain that I can no longer enjoy these situations in the same way at the moment.
One day I just decided enough was enough. I wanted to start enjoying myself again. I signed up to online CBT which I know doesn’t help everyone, but for me it gave me some new techniques to manage my anxiety and mostly a realisation that it’s okay to feel this way! In the past, I had definitely put a lot of pressure on myself to push the feelings away instead of addressing them, which absolutely had made my anxiety worse. We went into lockdown during my CBT so I haven’t yet had a chance to put my techniques into practice in the ‘real’ world. I am still experiencing lots of symptoms but I know it is going to take time. I have to admit, the lockdown easing has been difficult as now I have to face my anxiety demons, instead of being safe in my bubble.
I guess this blog is one of the ways I am facing my anxiety. Admitting that it is real and becoming aware that I can deal with it. I know the road ahead is going to be tough but I have to believe I can manage my anxiety. I’m not alone and have lots of support from my fiancé, family and best friend. I am determined to feel on top of my anxiety by the time my wedding comes around next year.
I hope you enjoyed this more ‘real’ blog post. If you are interested in hearing some more about my journey in the future, please let me know. Also, do leave any helpful mental health tips and tricks for others in the comments.
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