Behind my smile: I battle anxiety, and it’s okay to admit it.

Behind my smile is an anxiety riddled woman, wife and mom. I don’t know how many of you know this, but I take medication daily to help control my anxiety, and it’s okay. I’ll openly admit it. It doesn’t mean I’m damaged or any less of a woman, wife or mother.

My earliest memory of suffering from anxiety was high school. I remember having panic attacks in certain situations. I never sought help from the right places. Triggers for me are anything I might not have control over (a lot, I know – see, I did say never throw me a surprise party), conflict and sometimes too big a crowd socially. I never got help for my anxiety until two years ago but talking to a professional about my anxiety was one of the best things I ever did for myself. It makes me a better person all round. It’s not the easy way out. It’s the only way out, for me. I’m of the opinion that there’s nothing wrong with seeking therapy, seeing psychologists, psychiatrists or even a GP. If your child was battling a disorder, would you refrain from seeking medical advice and intervention – I bet you that you wouldn’t, so why not do it for yourself? I know that previous generations (and I use this term loosely because I know it’s a complete marginalisation) never really ‘believed’ in therapy and medical intervention for something like this – you simply had to pull your big-girl-panties up and ‘get over it’. Don’t ever believe that’s enough. Talk about it to whoever you feel able to open up to and seek a professional opinion.

So many people that I’ve told about my anxiety don’t even believe it’s possible. They see me as smiling, positive, encouraging, laughing, level-headed and calm. I don’t appear sedated, spacey or erratic (for the most part, we all have bad days). What they don’t see, is my racing pulse and heart beating a million miles a minute when I have to drive somewhere that I don’t know – I will Google Map myself to every address, triple checking the street view for parking. What they won’t know, is that my brain analyses every possible scenario I may be confronted with at the onset that sometimes the easiest and quickest way to calm my mind is to simply turn whatever opportunity it is, down. They don’t know my anxiety is always telling me I’ll fail, so sometimes I’d rather not try – you see, it’s an invisible beast to many. My anxiety has largely been under control until these last few months, with added stresses I’m not sure this particular medication or the dosage is working in tandem with my body any longer. Throw in a pandemic of the proportions we’ve been battling and for someone with a pre-existing anxiety disorder and it’s a recipe for a ‘bit of a wobble’ to put it lightly. How does the heightened anxiety affect me? It triggers aura’s and migraine attacks. So, while under control I may get a migraine once a month or once every couple of months – whereas when my anxiety is heightened, I can get them a couple of times a week. They become completely debilitating. My head hangs over the toilet bowl for hours and I’m dizzy, with blurred vision. It’s not fun. I don’t take medication lightly, trust me, but in order to function, I need it.

Once it’s safe to go out again I’ll be paying my guardian angel another visit to chat about finding a new solution. In the meantime, I’ll be cleaning everything – cleaning helps me cope – it helps me feel calmer in an anxious moment and quietens the chaos. If you’re someone battling anxiety or depression, seek help. Don’t wait. Don’t ever feel less of a person for needing something to help you get through your day to day life. It’s okay. I’m here for you and I’ll always be a willing ear and shoulder.

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