I’ve often looked back and asked myself over and over When did it happen? How did it happen? Did it hit me overnight? Here’s what I’ve figured out. I’m an anxious person. I’ve always been an anxious person. Like even as a child I was fearful and worried all the time.
I used to go to Irish dancing. The dancing practice was nerve wrecking enough but the competitions. Oh man were they hell for me. Mum would think I’d fallen asleep in the back seat, I was so quiet. She’d look in the mirror and there I was. Deep in thought staring out the window. I was thinking, What if I fail? What if I do badly? Will my parents hate me? Am I good enough? Will people laugh? I was a mess. Then when I got there I would be sweating profusely. Not normal at all. Mum would give me coins to hold so that I would keep my hands closed,an old Irish dancing trick. They would be dripping in sweat. I’d get up there full of adrenaline and do my best. I’d do okay. Then she would say that I was a different child. She literally took a different child home. I was happy, chatty and full of life.
Fast forward to primary school. I think sixth class. I was at a table that was called the ‘smart’ table. Though they had a different name on it. Who was ‘they‘ you ask? Some other kids in the school. I was not very good at dealing with this. They would call us names sometimes during classes. Maybe it was the freak table. I don’t even know. I feel like I’ve suppressed it. But I remember going home and smiling like everything was just great. I was embarrassed mum and dad would think I was a loser. So I never dealt well with that. Again, ALL anxiety related.
Secondary school in the beginning was okay. I dealt with the death of my granny in a very negative way. I held onto it and spoke to no one. I felt like granny understood me. When I would visit her at her home she would put lavender on my sleeves and tell me that it would help calm me. I figured she got it. She knew the storm that was brewing inside me. When she died I got angry. Angry and sad. But I held it inside. I didn’t share much with anyone. The bullying in my early years was mild enough. Just some boys bullying me about my acne. I remember passing around my diary one day to get it signed in English class and a boy wrote that my skin was spotty and ‘I loved it.’ I went home and cried. That led me to go on Roaccutane.
Roaccutane is a drug used to treat extreme acne. It’s a very serious drug because it causes a lot of serious side effects. I fell in love with it. My skin was becoming beautiful. I didn’t care about the side effects. Until one day I snapped and I was throwing things and breaking things. The anger and mood swings were unreal. There, on this drug, entered my first thoughts of suicide. Like I felt like maybe Everyone would be happier if I was gone. Maybe this wasn’t for me. This world and my emotions didn’t seem to go together. My parents have said if they could go back in time they wouldn’t put me on it. But I have to say it saved my skin and gave me something to be proud of. Side effects passed and time went on. I was happy in school for the most part. I was busy falling in love and going out with friends. I was getting good marks in most subjects and I got on well with most people. I wasn’t surrounded by people but I tried not to hurt people. But I did.
I remember one time hurting a friend by making her feel left out and alone. I messed up big time. I invited my boyfriend along at the time to something that should of just been me and her. She felt alone and by herself. I told her I shouldn’t have done it and said I was sorry. The next day at school though another girl was talking about me because of it and telling everyone else. I was confused as it wasn’t really her business. We also used to be best friends. She really disliked me. To the core. I learned in time from someone else who was close to her, she despised me. That’s okay too. You can’t like everyone. But I think she had a lot of influence. Because some girls listened and I felt left out a lot my last year. I wouldn’t say anything of course. I’d sit there quietly at break dying inside pretending everything was amazing. I don’t know why but I was never good at using my voice. When I did fight back I did it in a bad way. I tried to hurt people the way they hurt me. I just didn’t understand what my feelings were. I was always good at being silent. Pretending things were just fine.
Anxiety hit again for my last year in school. Like I mean I didn’t want to do any work. The fear of failure was unreal. Some girls were talking bad about me and I found myself in the toilet one day crying and begging the vice principal to call my mum. I wanted to go home. I used to listen to all the gossip about myself and I believed it all. I wanted people to like me so badly that I let what they thought of me get me down. I always needed validation. Always needed approval. However I got through it all. But not without a suicide attempt that I told my mum about. She spoke to me and begged me to speak to her. I did to some extent. I felt like a failure all over again. Like I’d let them down. At this stage in my life I genuinely felt like they’d be better off without me. This was something I truly believed.
Again I got through it but I never dealt with it. I didn’t know how. Next I went to college. Fell out with a best friend. Went through some more depression. I had no outlet. I had let this anxiety build and build and then it manifested itself as Depression. My best friend then at the time who I trusted with my life totally ghosted me in March. This confused me and I then had no one to pour my heart out to. Both events are normal enough. Natural at this time in life but I was so introverted that I didn’t speak about it. I am such a sensitive person that when I love, I love hard. So losing people in life was never easy for me.
I became depressed again and isolated. This time however something snapped. All the years of blocking it all and holding it inside had finally worn me down. I was done. I tried to overdose one night. I called my parents from college and told mum that I wasn’t doing well. She booked me a flight to come home. I cried the whole way home on the plane and then in the car when they collected me. I wasn’t bouncing back this time. This time I wasn’t able to push it all down and continue with life as normal. This time it was consuming me. I still remember my heart thumping like it was going to come through my chest. I remember not feeling joy in anything. Not wanting to eat. Begging my mind to let me sleep. The only option seemed to be to stop it all. I cried so much that my eyes were continuously red, swollen and sore. I was losing weight and I was losing who I was.
My parents were worried. I was supposed to be sitting final exams at school and I didn’t want to. I was through with college. I was done with it all. That feeling of worthlessness came over me again. Why did my parents even care. It’s not like I was anything special. Again I felt so strongly about them being better off without me. Something was deeply wrong. My GP referred me to a doctor in Dublin. My parents went private out of worry and fear and I flew up to see him. He recognised all of the symptoms and said that I had pushed it down inside me for so long. High functioning anxiety for years and I had finally hit the lowest stage of my life, I was Depressed he said. He told me that I didn’t need to suffer and could start Prozac. I jumped at the chance. Yes please. I had reached my limit. Suicidal thoughts and anxiety had finally worn me down. My family had been put through enough and I needed a nights sleep that didn’t involve Panadol night or Zimovane from the GP.
I started the Prozac and at the time it was necessary for me. Everyone is different. Some people don’t need it and some do. It saved my life. I don’t doubt that for a second. Then as I was better I started to seek counselling and therapy. Started to read more about mental health and how to calm the mind. I started to figure out who I was and how I’d come to be so anxious. That’s when life started to really make sense. Life became beautiful. Eventually I got off the Prozac and focused on the therapy and Techniques.
In a nutshell that seems to be where my depression and anxiety stemmed from. Spending all my life being seen and not heard. Being afraid to spill my darkest thoughts to anyone out of fear I would be labelled a failure. Fear that I would be labelled a freak. Fear that I wasn’t good enough. Fear that I would mess up my family’s lives. So I pushed it down until it finally boiled over and blew up all over my face. It’s funny how it creeps up on you.
So now I spill my guts. I’m stronger. I’ll say I had a bad day. I’ll admit I’m anxious and nervous. I’ll admit when I’ve made mistakes and I’ll admit when I need help. I think about things more methodically. I pause before I act. I breathe deeply. I realise my mistakes have made me who I am. I try to be as kind as I can to everyone. I’m careful with my words and I try to offer those who seem to be suffering some words of advice or just a smile.
I’ve realised that my anxiety and depression doesn’t define me. It doesn’t make me a freak or a failure. It makes me human, and a pretty damn strong one at that.
Thank you to this wonderful person for sharing their story for The Tough Cookie Blog. If anyone else would like to share their story just send me a message💪🏻🍪😉