Anxiety: A timeline
At the end of 2018 I found myself lying on my bed sobbing, with absolutely no idea of where to go or what to do.
I’d ground to a halt.
I felt like I had completely wasted my entire working life with nothing to show for it. I thought I knew nothing, had no value to share, and was a big fat failure. I’d created the working life I thought I wanted, and had come to a point where everything about it felt wrong. And I couldn’t see how to change any of it.
I wish I was exaggerating about the depths of these feelings, but I’m not.
I’m sure you’ve heard this trite expression before, but holy shit, it’s true. When you hit rock-bottom, when your back is to the wall, when you feel like you’ve got nowhere to go. That’s when you somehow dig deep and turn things around.
2019 was the year for me to really take a good hard look at myself. And ask the question: why the fuck had I gotten to that point in the first place?
March 2019: re-enter the ‘real’ world
I started by going out to networking events. With other actual humans.
Pretty quickly, I realised part of the reason I felt so shit about myself, was that I’d been living in an online bubble for about 5 years. Everyone around me was doing similar stuff to what I was doing, so I felt like I had no value anymore.
Out there in the real world, when I told people what I did – I suddenly felt really knowledgeable. People had questions for me, and really listened to what I had to say.
It was like waking up. My skills and experience weren’t useless. The opposite in fact. I just needed to stop spending so much time comparing myself to others on Facebook. (Can you believe this was actually a revelation for me? The knots we tie ourselves into…)
July 2019: give up drinking
As I slowly started realising that I wasn’t a waste of space, I had to acknowledge that a lot of the shitty feelings were also self-inflicted.
I was at a point where I knew everything felt wrong, but I couldn’t find the head space to work out how to make it right. A big part of that was my evening wine-down. If I’m honest, it was most nights of the week. Not enough to get drunk, but enough to keep me feeling dusty – day after day after day.
It was around this time I started reading self-development books (side note: I’m amassing QUITE the collection)
One particular thing I read really stuck with me.
It was a sort of science-meets-woo-mish-mash (that I’m sure real scientists would snort tea all over themselves reading) about making Quantum leaps in your life.
The gist is that if you want a big change in your life, you need to make space for it. To remove something that’s no longer necessary so that a new thing can ‘pop’ into existence for you.
I’m not explaining it well at all, but it made sense when I read it. That’s the main thing, right?
(The book was called The Holy Shit Moment, if you’re interested in getting a less-garbled account).
Anyway, I decided that alchohol was taking up too much room. In my days, in my body and in my head. So, I joined an online course called the 30 Day Alcohol Experiment, and after a few weeks of wrestling with myself, I finally quit. It’s been 6 months so far – and I lord it over everyone like the smug git that I am.
(I don’t really – just quietly…on the inside).
The debilitating brain fog cleared up, I started running, and my frenemies – Dread and Anxiety – started to fuck off and leave me alone.
Until they came back. With a vengeance.
September 2019: scary thoughts and endless sobbing
One day in September, my husband came home and found me on the bed again. Sobbing.
At this point, I’d been crying for about 3 days.
My anxiety had gotten to the point where I didn’t know if I was coming or going half the time. My brain kept ticking obsessively through the same thought patterns.
I was either feverishly on my laptop trying to work out the thing that would make the anxiety go away – and alternating between shouting at my family for interrupting me, lying down for a cry, or desperately trying to calm myself with a walk, or meditation or something…anything…
Nothing was helping.
Gently, my husband suggested that we couldn’t go on like this, and that I go to see the doctor. I agreed, but he had arrange it. I was too busy you see. Staring at the pile of washing that seemed like the hugest task I ever had to conquer.
The doctor suggested medicine. I said yes.
There’s a stigma around taking medication to help our mental health. I’m not saying it’s the right solution for everyone – but my experience has not only been positive, it feels almost miraculous. Which is why I want to talk about it.
When I had my caesarian, part of the deal is that they load you up with pain killers for a few days afterwards. I mean, they’ve just cut you open and pulled out a (in my case) couple of small people. That shit hurts.
Without the medication, my brain and body would be so all-consumed with trying to deal with the pain, healing would take longer, be more traumatic, and not allow me to do what I needed to do with my brand-new babies.
That’s how I see my meds. They stopped the cycle of emotional pain that was crippling me so that I’ve been able to take control, and help my mind and body heal themselves for the long-term.
The meditation, the exercise, the therapy. This is all working really well, because I’m not using every last internal resource on managing an emotional situation that felt impossible.
November 2019: sweet, sweet clarity
Right now, I have a therapist. I go for lots of walks, meditate every day, am doing energy work, exercising and still not drinking.
I’m back on track with my business.
In stark contrast to November 2018, instead of thinking that I’d wasted years to end up nowhere, I’ve realised that everything I’ve done in my entire 20-year career so far is completely interweaved and has a purpose.
Note: Things have improved even more since then, which I’ll write about in the near future.