Let me introduce myself…
Hi, my name is Emma. I am an aspiring Womenswear Designer living in the UK. I love to create & appreciate all things created. I also suffer with mental health illness – anxiety…
Today was a stressful day. I have a stressful job. This is most definitely heightened by anxiety. That of which I feel is driven by a number of things, inclusive of but not restricted to:
1) I want to be the best version of myself.
2) I care, a lot.
3) I worry, a lot.
4) I am a perfectionist.
5) I think, a lot.
6) I dislike my job.
I could go on, but you know, don’t kick someone while they’re down and all that. But let me give you an insight into how anxiety can emerge and sometimes make someone feel. On my commute to work, I was in a pretty good mood, I usually am in the morning, it’s a new day, I’m excited to see what will come of it. It’s finally getting warmer!
8.30am and the atmosphere at my workplace is already grim (I’m not the only one who is stressed and ‘anxious’). So I think, ‘Well, you know…everyone is fighting a battle you don’t necessarily know the half of, give them the benefit of the doubt’. I try to think this way as often as I can because it’s true. Hardly anyone who knows me, truly knows what goes on in my head…same for most people right? You try to present the version of yourself you feel society expects or will like and respect, yeah? So anyway, as the morning proceeds, the tension builds. External noise is preventing anyone the luxury of concentrating and thinking straight, stress levels rising, posture is declining, headaches are developing, muttering and grunting. Now this is almost everyone, so you can probably imagine it is quite difficult to keep your spirits up. And actually, its bloody contagious.
But do you know what’s more frustrating than all of this? Is thinking about things that genuinely matter, constantly. Wondering how your family and friends are doing. I hope they’re not stressed about the things that shouldn’t matter that much! Thinking you wish you could be anywhere but here, doing something with this degree you worked your arse off for 4 years for. Working in that industry you’re so passionate about… But you have to pay your way, as tempting as it is to just jack it in and move to the city, you can’t. You can’t afford it. You want to just spend your days designing, writing, reading, travelling, feeling inspired and motivated, because there isn’t much of a better feeling than when you’re working on something, and it’s working, and that’s it…you’re away with it…you can’t illustrate your ideas quick enough.
Oh man, I’d love to just stop what I’m doing, put in my headphones, stick on Florence and the Machine’s new album and just write. Write about whatever I want, because I can. Obviously, because I can’t.
So the pressure was escalating and smothering me all morning – thoughts racing, trying to resist and avoid the negativity until finally I just felt so overwhelmed. I had to get out. I needed air. I took my lunch hour and headed outdoors for a walk. My chest felt tight – like a heavy weight crushing my ribcage, vision blurred, heart racing, palpitations, adrenaline through the roof… I felt like I couldn’t breathe. You only have to google anxiety symptoms for an extensive range of the physical and emotional burdens of the disorder. Now, I’ve come along way from when I first discovered I was suffering with anxiety, a hell of a long way; It’s quite amazing just how powerful the mind is really.
I began to suffer with anxiety and panic whilst studying for my degree, doing the thing I love, ironically. Typically Type A personality according to my tutor.
But these symptoms; along with the emotional side of anxiety can be extremely intense. Unless you’ve experienced true panic, the panic when you genuinely believe and feel you could die instantaneously any minute, its unlikely you would understand it. So even now, the feelings are scary and it can be difficult to control, but that’s the thing, it is controllable.
Initially, I thought if I could ever overcome it, I would be able to live my life just as before. Now, I don’t think I’ll ever feel like I did before. I don’t remember how I felt before anxiety, other than being a lot more carefree. Once you have suffered with mental health problems I think they stay with you. You learn to live with and control them, but they’ll always be there. However, it never appears to surface quite as badly as that first time. You may be stressed and it can start to creep back into your life, but you’ve been there already now, you know the symptoms and you have the skills to fight and live with it. That’s a positive to having suffered with anxiety, the strength you develop, because you had no choice, is pretty incredible and is transferrable to all other aspects of your life. A life skill which will come in handy time and time again…
Today was a stressful day. My anxiety was under control for a long time. I worked extremely hard to get it there. But today it came back. Quite intensely may I add. Not completely unexpectedly however, because I battle with the above list of anxiety driven sources daily. But the important thing is I dealt with it. And I continue to deal with it every time. I went for a walk, took some deep breaths and put a few things into perspective (Exercise if possible, deep breathing and challenging thoughts are all great ways to deal with anxiety and panic). By the time I returned from my walk I was in a fresher, calmer and totally different place mentally to where I was 45 minutes ago. Again, It’s surprising just how powerful the mind can be.
Anxiety taught me that I am stronger than I tend to give myself credit for. If you’re reading this, and you suffer with anxiety, I hope you take strength from knowing that no matter how bad it was the first time, it will unlikely never be as bad as that time. It’s not an easy illness to live with, I don’t want to pretend it is, but it is an illness you can learn to live with. And if you’re a Type A Personality, then that new profound strength might just push and encourage you to reach those high goals of yours.