I’m writing this on the train as I am on route to Salcombe in Devon as the Hartridge’s commence their annual Easter trip in the West Country. I remember this time last year and I was so riddled with anxiety that looking forward to anything again seemed like a distant memory. However. none of my family would have known how much I was struggling because I was doing what every person who suffers from mental health issues is doing every god damn day….
BEING THE BEST ACTRESS/ACTOR THERE EVER WAS
They say those with anxiety or depression (although I have to admit my knowledge of depression is fairly limited because not to downplay how severe it was but anxiety was my ‘thing’) are the best actors and actresses in the world because often and this is excluding those who are severely mentally ill, often you could not spot someone who was suffering. You certainly wouldn’t have been able to if you had met me a year ago, you would actually probably gone as far as to say ‘That girl seems really happy’. I’ve done this with people I have met too and then later they confess that they are struggling and it breaks my heart thinking of the ‘show’ we have to put on sometimes just so other people don’t find out. For me it wasn’t just that I didn’t want other people to know I had severe anxiety, I was also trying to ‘fake it so I could make it’ which actually does really help.
Do you know that your brain is actually really stupid and doesn’t know the difference between actually happy and pretend happy? So by pretending that you’re ok and acting normally in front of others your body starts to send signals to your brain that you are in fact safe and not in danger. As a result of all that, your anxiety levels will begin to reduce. Now I know this sounds easy in practice but let me tell you from someone who suffered with severe anxiety and thought of nothing else all day/all night (sleep was basically out of the question), just trying to act ‘normal’ feels almost impossible and often the very thought of being in a social situation was too much to bare. Being totally honest, it probably took me about a year to master this and I still have rare days now where it takes me by surprise but the conversation in my head now goes a little like this:
Anxiety- Shit Emily, this is a situation you used to panic in and I think you should panic now actually because you don’t know that person and you have to spend an entire lunch talking to them. Freak out, freak out now!
Me – Oh piss off
Everyone goes at their own paces so don’t compare yourself to anyone else, we all recover at different rates. I always knew it would take a while for me because I am extremely impatient and if you talk to ANYONE with mental health problems, they will tell you that the one word to always remember is PATIENCE. And boy was I lacking that……
I feel like I have gone off on a massive tangent from where I wanted this blog post to go, that’s the thing with anxiety. Once I start talking about it, it’s honestly like the gates open and words just flow.
Anyway yes so I am on this train off to Salcombe and I guess I am just so appreciative of how calm I am and that I am ACTUALLY looking forward to it (both the champagne when I get there AND spending time with my family obvs). What is so strange about appreciating these things is that before I started to experience anxiety, the things I used to appreciate were so different or should I say, the things I took for granted. Feeling calm, having amazing friends and family, my health, my heart not racing a zillion miles an hour, ACTUALLY getting 7/8 hours sleep a night. We ALL take these things for granted and until you go through something that shakes you to your utter core, you probably always will. This is why I am so weirdly grateful for my breakdown and I don’t use the word ‘breakdown’ lightly I can assure you. I don’t want to get too dark but I didn’t see the point in being here, that’s how low I was. Going through all that has made me so much stronger and has totally changed my outlook on life and myself.
The majority of us dwell on the past or worry about the future but when you actually think about it its crazy. The past has happened, there is literally NOTHING you can do to change it and the future has not happened yet so quit worrying about it!
I know these are just words and I make that sound easy but I know it’s not, as I said it has taken me a long time to get there and I still have ‘those’ days but I have read up so much about the mind that it just all makes sense to me now.
I will go into this book in more detail in another post but the book can set me on my path to recovery is called ‘At Last a Life’ by Paul David. Paul is the most amazing man you will ever come across and dedicates his entire life to helping others who suffer from anxiety. He’s not a doctor or a psychiatrist but do you know what he is? Someone who has ACTUALLY experienced severe anxiety, for 10 whole years in fact. There is nothing I hate more than seeing a book on anxiety written by some doctor or so called ‘expert’ who has never experienced it in his life, YOU KNOW NOTHING MATE!!!!
Without Paul’s book and help, I shudder to think where I would be today, I really do. Paul, if you ever read this, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you have done for me. If I was best mates with God, I would get him to open those gates WIDE OPEN for you J
Sorry if it was a bit of a random post.
Thanks for listening
To find more out about Paul David go here: