I recently ‘decided’ that a multitude of emotional issues I’ve had over the past few years and the way I deal (or don’t deal) with them could all be put down to an anxiety disorder. I’ve obviously experienced anxiety in the past at times when it would be perfectly ‘normal’ – driving tests, hospital visits, hair appointments after I’ve used 4 boxes of DIY bleach.. we’ve all been there, right? but after having what I believe was a panic attack a couple of weeks ago I started to wonder about my emotional health.
I’ve always been quick to cry, can’t be in a confrontational situation because I’ll reach a certain level or angry/upset and, tears. No crying in the workplace is a good rule and so no confrontation it had to be. Even as a teenager I remember crying at movies that weren’t really all that sad, I can be in floods over an advert (have you seen the Pampers one about the premature babies? Gets me every time!!!) or a sad song on the radio but I’ve been led to believe that I’m not alone in that. There are lots of us over-emotional lot out there and so I thought it was.. ‘normal’.
This year we moved in to a new house (actually it was Christmas last year) with my parents. As you can imagine this was a huge change for everyone and me being me I pushed down every problem that I had, every niggle, every nugget of stress and reminded myself over and over why we were doing it and how great it would be once we all got settled. It’s definitely better now we’re in a routine but at the start of the year I was basically ready to be committed. All the tiny things I wasn’t dealing with had me at full stress capacity so anything at any time could tip me over the edge and I’d be sitting in the bathroom sobbing with all the taps on.
I spoke about this before when I said that I thought the ‘positive vibes only’ culture was making us all a bit miserable and at the time I hoped that was the realisation that would put me back on an even keel but I now realise that there was more to it. When I was sitting in the bathroom at work gasping for air, heart beating out of my chest I thought perhaps this could be that ‘anxiety’ everyone’s been talking about. Outside of our huge change of living situation my life has been pretty stable and good for a while. My family is great, my husband is very supportive, the kids aren’t giving me too much of a hard time but I have been finding it increasingly difficult to deal with day to day stuff.
A huge, looming ball of angst that’s hanging over me has been YouTube and blogging. I have felt so out of the loop, so lost, everyone is feeling it I think but as a blogger you are your blog and when people aren’t engaging like they used to it’s hard not to feel that on a personal level. It’s unlike (most) other jobs in that you are very connected to the success of what you’re doing and if people are unsubscribing from it they are also unsubscribing from you. Obviously (in most cases) that’s not a conscious decision but it’s hard to separate that in your mind when you are basically selling yourself for a living, however you slice it.
When I look back over the past year I can see myself unravelling and struggling to find the answer to how I’m feeling. I wrote this post about numbers not being the be all and end all, I wrote the post about positivity being the new negativity, I even wrote a post when we were on holiday and I effectively locked myself in a bathroom because I couldn’t deal with my family. Warning signs, anyone? What I took a very long time to understand was that the difference between feeling anxious/stressed and having a disorder is that you cannot fix the latter. Nobody can come along and take that weight from you, it’s yours to keep.
I didn’t want to tell anyone about it because I thought it would seem like attention seeking and that nobody would take it seriously because ‘everyone has anxiety these days’ and honestly? I didn’t believe most people so why would anyone believe me? I think that the blogging community are prone to suffer from anxiety because they’re at the forefront of this social media numbers game. We’re forever telling kids not to value yourself more/less depending on the likes you have on instagram or the friends you have on snapchat but that is quite literally what we do for a living. We have to value those things, it’s out job! So you can see how the sudden downturn in engagement across the board has a huge number of people in a tailspin.. which in turn made it seem like half of YouTube had adopted anxiety for the lols.
I eventually recorded a podcast (random, I know but I felt the most comfortable talking about it that way) and I received so many emails and messages after the podcast from women around my age feeling the same thing. Completely isolated and like nobody would understand if they spoke about how they were feeling. I do think that the older we get the harder it is to admit you’re struggling with emotional/mental health because you have lives and families and bills and shit to deal with. You don’t have time to worry about trivial little thing like crying yourself to sleep for no reason! I mean, at least you’re sleeping, right?
I don’t really want to talk to my friends and family because I know that much as they will want to understand they wont be able to and I really can’t be bothered trying to explain it if I’m 100% honest. You can’t fix it but you can (I hear) learn to manage it and know what triggers you. I am still on the first page so I’m brand new at this and have no idea what sets me off but I know that dealing with things as and when they arise rather than just ignoring them and hoping they’ll go away is job 1. I’m considering going back to my office job full time to take the pressure off the social media side of things too.. and funnily enough I’ve seen a couple of other people say the same thing on twitter this week. Perhaps there’s something in the air.
Either way I wanted to post this for those of you who feel like you have nothing to complain about and yet often find yourself with a low feeling you can’t shake. I like to put on a sad movie and let it all out, it’s cathartic and still allows me to ignore my real problems while giving me an outlet (and a cover) for all the tears I’ve been saving up. Might not be the healthiest way to go but for now it’s all I’ve got. If you want to chat you can leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org ..it can be really shit to feel really shit and have nobody to talk to so let’s talk to each other.