This is something that’s very difficult for me to post. By no means am I an expert at this type of things, but if my story helps at least one person, letting them know that they’re not alone with anxiety, then it was completely worth writing it all for. I can’t go into too much detail, mainly because it’s hard to bring it back up, but I’m done with that chapter in my life now. I don’t hold any grudges to anybody who was involved at the time. Life is too short to hold grudges and we’re all grown ups. I’d rather move on and be happy.
I was never the most confident person growing up. I was shy around new people, but once I had gotten to know them, you couldn’t shut me up! The only time I can remember being truly anxious was when I had to go swimming. I had an accident around the pool when I was 5 that left me in hospital, and from that day on, I had been completely petrified of going swimming. I would throw up every time I was taken, but my mum persevered and eventually she managed to get me back into the pool. It took me years to get confident in the water, but I did it. I had never had any other problems with anxiety or nerves before and I never really kept things bottled up. My mum is my best friend and if I have any problems, I go straight to her and rant my little heart out. Mum’s are the best at giving advice and my mum definitely is a diamond!
When I was 19, I started a new job. It was something I had never done before, but I’m always up for a new challenge. The first 2 months or so, I absolutely loved it. I felt like I fit in with everybody else and I really liked the job itself. It was a stressful job, don’t get me wrong, but I did like the job. I liked the people I got to see and I liked the feeling of helping my customers. But it all began to go downhill after that. The job had a tiny team, there were 6 of us altogether. You know how there are certain groups of girls at school who seem to have that ‘elite’ club? That was what it began to feel like. Except I wasn’t part of the club. I felt like an outsider constantly, like things were going on behind my back and I wasn’t allowed to know. Bitchy comments were an everyday thing and it made me feel so on edge. I had never really been through that stage in my life before, especially not from adults. I was the youngest person working there, by quite a few years, so I didn’t feel like I had anybody to turn to. At the same time period, my sister was in hospital going through some pretty serious tests, before starting some crappy medication that made her even sicker. I began to feel like I couldn’t cope anymore.
The next four months felt like torture. Things got a lot worse in my job, to the point where I started having panic attacks daily, sometimes up to four times a day. I would get myself so worked up and stressed out the nights before I was going to work that sometimes I would actually be sick at the thought of going in. I spent so much time locked in my room, too afraid to tell my mum what was going on. I didn’t want her to think that I couldn’t handle things that were going on in my own life. I was an adult.. Those kind of things shouldn’t be happening at my age! Bullying, name calling and all the drama that was going on was something that I associated with primary school, not in the workplace! I rarely saw my friends, I wasn’t sleeping at all and I generally didn’t leave my house.
It wasn’t until one day I had discovered a bald patch in the back of my hair where things were making me so stressed out and anxious, that I realised I had to tell somebody. My mum had seen the signs of something going on, and she was the first person I told. I was more embarrassed to tell her how I felt mentally, rather than what was going on in my job. She let me cry on her shoulder for the longest time whilst we talked about my options. I could switch jobs, move to a different region/shop, try to stick it out and see if things changed, or should I just leave altogether? I decided to see if I could stick it out, see if things changed at all. I questioned my management how much notice I would have to give if I were to leave, just as one of my options, and that’s where things went even more crazy. I walked into work about three weeks later to be told that I had to write my notice as the manager of my shop had said that I had given verbal notice to leave. I had to rush to the bathroom to throw up there and then. They had twisted everything I had said, to make me want to leave even more. At this point, I realised I had to leave. It wasn’t good for my health staying there.
So I walked out, there and then. And I never looked back from that day. I still had panic attacks for months afterwards, especially when opening up to people about what had happened. But I learnt how to cope with them and I noticed the signs of feeling anxious beforehand, which helped me stop panic attacks in their tracks. I remember travelling on the train to Hull about 7 months later by myself without having a panic attack and I had never been as proud of myself as I was that day. Funny how something that could be something you would do every day/week/month before hand, was now a huge task. It’s been 2 years since I left that job, and it’s been about a year since I had my last panic attack.
Obviously, all situations which involve anxiety are completely different, but my main advice would be to tell somebody. Open up and talk to somebody. If you don’t feel like you can tell your parents or your family/friends, make an appointment with a GP. They are absolutely brilliant with these kinds of things, and as soon as you have gotten it off your chest, you will feel a huge sense of relief. I can only wish that I had told my mum sooner. Secondly, if it is something you can avoid doing, take yourself out of the situation. The negativity, the stress, none of it is worth it. If I had known beforehand that this would have happened to me, I would have never sent that first job application. Another thing I highly recommend is downloading the MIND – Headspace app. That app was an absolute godsend to me. It made me think logically, even if just for 10 minutes. Sometimes 10 minutes is all you need, to realise that things are fine. You are going to be okay and you will get through it. It taught me how to breathe through it, to just relax and to accept that even if a panic attack was going to happen, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. You would survive. I found myself talking to myself a lot, reassuring myself that everything would be fine. But that app was one of the best things for me during that time. It helped me get some sleep, calming me enough to fall asleep.
I know that this is mainly just a ramble about the situation that I have been through, but if anybody else is going through this, please, please open up and talk about it. Please feel free to drop me an email or a tweet or anything, I hate to think that somebody else might be sat locked away in their room like I used to be. Also, if you know somebody that is going through something like this, please, please be supportive! It’s very, very hard for people to talk about it, but knowing that they have somebody there who is willing to listen when they need it is so comforting. I know that if my mum wasn’t willing to listen to me, if she just thought I was being ridiculous, then I would still be stuck in that job now. And I dread to think how my mental health would be right now.
Sorry that this was such a long post guys!