This is probably the scariest thing I'll ever put out there on my blog, but I told myself I'd be more personal this year...
so this is personal.
I am one of the many people in the world who have anxiety and depression.
I was diagnosed with anxiety about 2 years ago (though have been struggling with it since teen years) and then with depression in about May last year. I have never brought it up online as I wanted to keep it in the private side of my life. I didn't want it to taint my work or how people saw me. I didn't want it to bring down my blog (my happy place).
Over time I've realised how important it is for me to share this part of my life, because there might be a number of you reading this who are going through exactly the same thing and I want you to see that it's normal. It's okay.
I never really knew I had anxiety, I didn't know what it was. I'd always been such a go-getter when I first moved to Sydney. Travelled wherever I needed to go, got myself into so many different internships, tried new things, went out with friends. Got myself a job and worked really hard.. then somehow I unfortunately started to experience the wrath of jealous and/or miserable people at work. This is where things took a turn for the worse.
I never thought I would go all my childhood/teen years without really being bullied and that bullying would happen to me as an adult, but it did. I left a long term job because of it, went into another where it occurred 10x worse, went into another where I was micromanaged to a ridiculous point then into another where workplace bullying hit me once again. In all these cases I define bullying as making someone feel really, really low through words and actions with no regard for the person's feelings or well being. I've always been a polite, quiet and hard-working person so I didn't know why it was happening to me.
I wouldn't consider myself a weak person. I've always been strong on the inside, hence why I was able to live by myself for so long (before I met Daniel). I'm really independent and I keep to myself quite a bit. I always retaliated to these people who got me down with anger... irritability... outbursts of someone who wasn't me. It's like they brought my inner-monster out because never would I dare let someone walk over me. That's probably why it got worse, because they weren't expecting me to fight back.
Despite my strength I started to feel like a failure and I'd avoid situations where things could go wrong for me. It just got worse from there. I avoided everything. Events, travel, people - I turned down seeing friends because I was afraid. I was scared to go places I hadn't been, I couldn't be in crowded places (football games, supermarkets, shopping centres). Every part of my social life flew out the window because of fear. I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety.
Social Anxiety is the fear of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people, leading to feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, embarrassment, humiliation and depression. I have had many anxiety-ridden experiences in the past such as not being able to speak in meetings, being introduced to important people, feeling like everyone is watching me eat, not knowing what to say to the point of being completely silent. A big one was those situations where you go around the room in a circle and have to say something - feeling intense fear as it got closer to my turn. I have always told myself to be confident, to just do what you have to do. But that doesn't always work.
I eventually found a job where I felt I belonged. It involved a group interview and I don't know how I got through it. I started at the store when it first opened and I worked A LOT so the staff became like a second family to me. I was there early mornings, there late at night. Sometimes there for long 10-hour shifts. Every single person I worked with or walked past in the store treated me so kindly and I appreciated it so much. Going to work made me feel good.
Daniel and I then decided to move to the Central Coast, and I didn't realise how much of a disaster that would be in regards to work. I don't know what came over me but every time I walked out of our new apartment to go to the train or car to get to work, I'd be a few steps out the door and I would go into a state of panic. I couldn't breathe and I'd start to cry uncontrollably. No matter how much I loved my job, I just couldn't get there and it made me so upset.
So I went downhill rapidly. I felt hopeless. I couldn't leave the apartment, I didn't know what was wrong with me and I just felt so down. Panic attacks for me lasted a whole day, I couldn't stop crying, there was no way I'd be able to calm down and be okay to get to work. I hated calling in "sick". Before moving I rarely had a sick day so I felt so ashamed doing it. It got to the point where I was afraid of calling and had to get Daniel to call for me. I was a mess. Every day I woke up in tears and just wanted to lay in the dark and do nothing. I felt like I couldn't do anything. I felt like everyone hated me. I got so low that I was starting to scare myself. I didn't want to exist anymore. Daniel was worried like crazy and decided to send me home to my family for a while.
Daniel has been my angel in all of this. Without him I don't know if I'd still be here. I am so grateful to have the most caring boyfriend on the planet and I plan to be with him for life. The whole anxiety thing has been a learning curve for him as well, as he never knew what it was, or that some of the closest people in his life had it as well. I am now on medication and I go up and down. When I'm up I'm almost too happy... and I still feel down a lot but I haven't experienced too much anxiety since starting the medication which is good.
I guess I never feel good enough. I never feel like anything I do is good enough. I don't know what standards I set for myself but I never reach them. I'm afraid of not being perfect... making a fool of myself... messing up. I wish I could see the good in myself that I see in everyone else. I'm not someone who gives up, especially when it comes to my blog. That's one thing that even when I went through those dark days last year I wanted to keep creating content. My favourite thing to say to myself is "can't stop, won't stop" (thanks Miley). Even if most of the time I think I suck at pretty much everything, I'm just going to keep going because that's just what you have to do.
One bit of advice I have in regards to work is if you are unhappy in your job... leave. Life is too short to spend a second of your time feeling down, especially if other people are to blame. I always found another job easily, you just have to switch on that "things will get better" attitude and realise there's somewhere you're meant to be out there.
I mainly wanted to put this all out there because I didn't realise how many people in my life had anxiety until they found out I had it. It's something that's hidden but shouldn't be. I wish it was openly discussed so much more because I was one of those people who thought I was alone in this and that there was something seriously wrong with me. I couldn't understand why I was put on this earth if I had to live with this illness. Now knowing how common it is makes me feel better, I love finding other's stories that I can relate to. I know that I'm not the only one and if you are as lost as I was, I'm sending you a virtual hug and letting you know I'm here to listen if you ever need someone to talk to.