By Kim Barrett
It feels like a scratching, itching through every layer of your skin through to the marrow of your soul. Every position, every movement, every thought, every facet of your life is utterly wrong. The rising mountain right in front of you is insurmountable and endless.
But step away, out of your body and it’s a weeping woman looking at a pile of dishes, running slightly late for meeting friends, struggling to screw two pieces of wood back together. It’s never the big stuff, but the small stuff can push you right to the very edge.
It feels eternal and inescapable. If only I could… I dream of the peace of nothingness. Until I snap out of it. But it’s less of a snap and more like the veil slowly lifting until I can see the world clearly again. The small stuff is just small, but only if I can keep remembering that.
And it’s the small stuff that will help you. Getting enough sleep regularly. Eating well and getting the right vitamins. Exercise: yoga or running or moving in whatever way you enjoy (or remember enjoying before everything began to feel impossible). Of course, being able to manage the small stuff might involve doing some big stuff first, but the big stuff is just small stuff in disguise. Going to therapy sounds big, but it’s just talking to a person, the right person. (Although it’s hard work analysing and dismantling unhelpful thought patterns.) Taking anti-depressants sounds big, but it’s just one pill, the right pill. (Although it might take a while to find the right one and they can have some unpleasant side-effects.)
Accessing help might feel big. Because of the stigma. Because of the cost. Because of the effort. Because it hurts too much just to get out of bed in the morning.
When you’re lying at the bottom it’s hard to imagine anything pulling you back out again. I’ve sat at the bottom, crying, inconsolable and uncontrollable, but, through online classes and therapy, I pulled myself up enough to just take it one day at a time. I learnt techniques to get my mind out of the dark place that it wants to hide in. Now, I can manage my anxiety by drinking enough water, sleeping well and taking one multi-vitamin a day. There are still bad moments and bad days, but they’re not as bad as they used to be and I can see a way through them.
Anxiety is hard and seemingly endless, but it is manageable. The pain will end and it’ll be possible to see clearly once more. The good times will outweigh the bad times. Happiness won’t seem unattainable. Living with anxiety is tough and tiring, but I’m going to keep trying and I hope you will too.
Kim Barrett is a freelance writer and software developer from Oxford, UK. They write about a variety of topics, including language, sexuality and mental health. Kim was diagnosed with anxiety three years ago.
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