'Stress. We live in a world full of stress'

Monday, 20 October 2014

I ran into a man in the Grand Hyatt elevator today who read my mind. I'd had a stressful night the night before with work, and I was still wired from it this morning, so I could really relate when he said, out of the blue:

'Stress. We live in a world full of stress.'

For as long as I can remember, iv been a worrier.

I worry about everything, always doing the right thing and being a good person, what other people think of me, not getting things wrong, worrying about people and wanting to make sure they are okay, especially friends and family.

Until now, I have never attributed the way I am to anxiety. More often than not I'd put it down to having little self confidence and self esteem.

Even right from being a baby, I was a shy child. Apparently I'd cry if anyone tried to hold me except my mum. This shyness carried on into my childhood and my teenage years, until I got so fed up of being the shy girl that I made the bold decision to ask out a boy from the year above on a date (he said yes, I know you're keen to know!) I waitressed to help me get better at talking to people. I still go red sometimes for no reason when I'm talking to people, but I think that's something I can't change! Iv always thought my worries were a direct result of a lack of confidence in myself, due to being shy growing up. Anyone who knows me outside of my close friends and family probably wouldn't think I was shy at all. Iv trained myself not to be, although it's mostly circumstantial. Maybe I've just become very good at putting on a front.

Recent events and research into the subject have linked all of my behaviour over the years to anxiety, which has become so much worse since I've lived abroad.

I am constantly wound up, all of the time. I can't switch off or relax, because I'm worrying about everything. Especially at night, my mind is in absolute over drive, so I don't sleep. I also pull at my eyebrows, sub consciously, and even when I'm on FaceTime to my mum back home she will tell me off for doing that, and I don't even realise I'm doing it! It's a nervous, anxious habit.

This is probably a direct result of a combination of things, including a job I can't switch off from and issues in my personal life that have caused monumental amounts of stress and upset this past year.

This all came to a head one night last week when I had my first panic attack. My mum and I had been invited to a dinner for a friend who was leaving to move to Dubai. For some reason I had been wound up about this dinner all day. I wanted to go, but I also really, really didn't want to go, but for no reason. The whole day my heart was pounding and I was overcome with a feeling of dread. We went, and it was fine. There were people there I knew, I was with my mum, and I was having a nice time. But at the same time, I was an emotional wreck and wanted to cry for no reason.

The whole thing wasn't helped by the fact that a cockroach crawled onto my foot during the meal, which made me an absolute nervous wreck. I couldn't eat anything and had to leave mid way through the meal. I was so upset - not because of the cockroach although that was gross - but because of the anxiety I was feeling.

We got in a taxi with a guy who I wasn't convinced was a proper taxi driver. We dropped mum at the hotel and then he took me to my house. In my head, I was convinced he was going to drive me off out into the desert, and worked myself up into such a panic that by the time I got out of the car into my building, and got in the lift, I couldn't breathe.

I went straight to Matts. He poured me a glass of ice water and told me to have a shower, and it was a good hour or so before I really started to calm down, but being with him in familiar surroundings helped.

It's a very strange feeling that is so hard to write about, because it doesn't really make any sense. I feel the anxiety, and the wound up, tight feeling of worry almost all day, every day. Often, I don't even know what I'm worried about. The feeling is just there.

It's gotten to the point where sometimes I don't want to go to social events, and if I do go I want to leave early, and get home and into bed. Not because I'm tired or not having a good time, I just want to be in the comfort of my home and familiar surroundings. Recently my home here hasn't felt like a retreat either, so I've been so unsettled, and spent a lot of time at Matts over being at mine.

That's not the kind of person I want to be, so I want to do what I can while I'm here in this high pressure environment to not be this way. Iv heard exercise helps a lot. I know it did when I had all of the worries about my dad's health earlier in the year. I ran every day to distract myself from thinking about it all and I remember it being quite theraputic.

Has anybody else experienced this / know anyone who has anxiety?


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