Let me start by saying that this is not in any way a pity post. I in no way feel sorry for myself so I don’t want others to. I am blessed. I know that. I’m 29 years of age, I have a wonderful husband who works so hard to provide for his family. I have a beautiful son, one that for years I was unsure I would ever have. I’ve had a great career so far – working for Special Olympics was a dream for me. I loved every interaction with volunteers, athletes and family members. I loved working in politics for a brief period. I have 6 amazing sisters, all so different from one another but yet when the going gets tough I’m always astounded by the support, loyalty and compassion that they have. Each one would go without themselves to support one another. Particularly in the past 10 years since I left home, the friends that I’ve made have left their footprints in my heart and in my life. Those that have stayed up with me all night finishing university assignments, helped at fundraising events, supported me when times were hard and been there through many a night filled with food, wine and laughter. Like I said… I’m blessed and I know it.
I’m not sure at what point in my life I began to have anxiety. For sure it was while I was still in primary school. I’ve never been the popular kid… I wasn’t the cute child that had lots of friends and up until University I always found it hard to fit in and was constantly trying to be someone that I wasn’t to do that. It was hard. Thanks to a group of people during my teens who used me as a way to make themselves feel better, that anxiety got worse and made me question everything that I was about. I know most people hate their teenage years and that’s ok. At this point in my life I should have been addressing the feelings that I was having but I couldn’t. When I tried to, people told me that I was depressed when really that was far from the truth. I know now having been finally diagnosed with endometriosis and PCOS that I’m more susceptible to hormone changes and imbalances than most. However, the anxiety that came along with this was something that I’ve found very difficult to cope with.
The feeling of not being good enough can take over my entire life. When that happens I tend to isolate myself from the outside world and it can take a number of days to break through that. Having a child has made that more difficult as I can’t not face people most days as he can’t stay in the house all day. I’ve been in the situation where my husband has had to pick me up off the floor and carry me to bed while I stare blankly at him. I never want my child to see me like that. I won’t go into detail about how bad it’s been at times as it’s very personal and like I said… this isn’t a pity me post.
I just want to tell you… not only is it ok to not be ok. It’s normal to not be ok. You do not have to be perfect. Nobody is. You do not have to compare yourself to others. No two people are the same. No two relationships are the same. Stop looking at Instagram posts of perfect couples, families and lifestyles. Most of it is through rose tinted glasses. I love my life. I wouldn’t change a thing. But I’ve only gotten to that stage with the support of others and by not comparing myself to anyone else anymore. I’ve had friends tell me that I’m so lucky.. to have the husband, child, careers, house, lifestyle etc that we have. And I am. But they maybe haven’t realised that the very same day I’ve questioned a million times if I look ok in the mirror? Did do the right thing giving up my job? Do I play enough with my child? A million little things that when combined make me question my existence by the end of the day. I’m not sure exactly why but I can honestly tell you I will never be a confident person. I know that I’ve come across as confident and put together and competent at my job in my life but I’ve never felt it. I’ve never felt attractive and I’m constantly questioning what I can do to change how I look or how I’m percieved. I can guarantee I’m not the only person. That CEO that you think has it all together… She may be the very same. Anxiety can manifest itself as panic attacks but also in a cluster of questions about every aspect of your life. There are lots of things that you can do to help control these feelings without them consuming your life.
I have a pretty good handle on things most days and I can share what works for me with you:
- Exercise – its so important to get your body moving and your mind will catch up
- Diet – eat well, avoid alcohol and sugar and look after your body
- Talking – just let one person know how you’re feeling. You can’t keep it hidden.
- Meditation – when you feel a panic attack take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Writing – for me it’s the most therapeutic thing in the world. Keep a notebook close and write down what happened before your felt the anxiety building. How you coped with it and how you came out the other side. It will remind you for the next time that you can get through this.
- Take time for yourself – go for that walk, take time away from looking after others and be mindful that you need to look after yourself too.
I really hope this post can be of help to someone. Remember, just because today is a bad day doesn’t mean that tomorrow can’t be the best day of your life. Just breathe.