By OLIVER SHAWYER
I was first diagnosed with severely extreme anxiety just over two years ago. Combined with extreme depression, I was quite a mess and in desperate need for help.
I used to sit on the train in to work crying as I stared out the window – trying to convince myself that everything was going to be ok – that I could get through the day. I used to look at everyone else through my sunglasses and wish I was them. They smiled. They laughed. They didn’t smile. They didn’t laugh. I didn’t care – I just figured they were better off than I was.
This would happen every single morning for weeks at a time. I’d sit in work meetings and my mind would panic incessantly. To try and cope with the moment, I used to dig my fingers into my legs, my arms, my body – inciting enough pain to distract myself and avoid bursting into tears in front of everyone. Often I would end up in the bathroom, hidden in the cubical with tears continuously falling.
I felt as low as I think I could ever go. I just wanted to disappear. I didn’t know how to stop my mind from racing. I no longer had any control over my thoughts and I’d somehow developed the ability to take a truly trivial topic, and in the same draw of breath, allow it to transform into a monster of self-destruction. From “Am I prepared for this meeting” to “these people in the meeting don’t like me” to “I don’t like me”.
I refused to tell anyone what was going on, and in fact hid from everyone to avoid having to do so. I sacrificed friends. I sacrificed my family. I made a solid effort of destroying a number of personal relationships. It ultimately got to a point where I would refuse to leave my house because I didn’t want anyone to know that ‘the once confident bloke’ was actually incredibly ‘weak’ and ‘pathetic’. Every situation I should’ve been able to explore in life was ruined by my overpowering anxieties.
I could always tell myself it was anxiety in some form – but I thought there had to be more to it than ‘just’ that. For first time in my life, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to fix this myself – I needed help.