Since I was 10 years old, maybe even younger, I have dreamed of a life without anxiety. Way before I even knew it was anxiety I was suffering from.
Anxiety has consumed every part of my life. It has caused me to suffer from depression. Lead me to find myself at rock bottom too many times to count. And almost cost me my life in my 20’s.
I wanted it gone. I’ve suffered so much I felt my life was no longer worth living. My life had been stripped of almost everything I have ever loved or enjoyed. I didn’t see a world in which living with anxiety was possible.
How I looked at my anxiety
See I have always seen anxiety as the enemy. I have been trying to run away from it for as long as I can remember. With very little success.
Now, I understand that we need anxiety as it is a part of our makeup of a being human. And has helped us survive as a species for hundreds of thousand years. A part of me has always understood this. But I still wanted it gone nevertheless.
Throughout all the places I have searched for help, I have always wanted it gone and thought this was the end goal. Medication sometimes made it easier but ultimately it wasn’t enough. I was always waiting for somebody to tell me how to get rid of it and how to overcome this god awful disorder. Quite often I felt this was the message being conveyed to me too.
I have been searching for the wrong thing for so long. The wrong thing which isn’t even possible. Deep down I think I knew it. I knew there was no cure that I so desperately wanted. The problem was I was being filled with hope which was stopping me from fully committing to the help around me.
So I was left treading water barely keeping my head above water. I didn’t know how to swim. Even if I did know how to swim I couldn’t see the land to swim towards. I was surviving but I didn’t know-how. Eventually, I believed this was going to lead to me taking my own life.
The right kind of help is key
In June of 2018, I started seeing a private therapist recommended to me by my psychiatrist. For the first time in 5 years of looking for help, I believe I finally have the right help. It took months to see any progress. At times I felt like giving up. It was hard work. I was learning though and above all else making steady progress.
There were so many realisations along the way. Many more I will share here on this blog. But the one that helped me make the most progress was; I may always suffer from anxiety. There was no sugar coating. No beating around the bush pretending one day I may live an anxiety-free life. This over everything was the key for me. I didn’t like to hear it at the time. But I needed to hear it and I am glad I did.
I may always suffer from anxiety. My life may never be what I had planned for it. But I can make a life worth living.
A change in mindset
I can’t predict the future but the reality is I probably will always suffer from anxiety. What I’ve had in mind for the life I wanted to live, will probably be very different. However, I have already begun to make progress towards a happier more fulfilling life. What is to say I can’t become even happier and live an even more fulfilling life in the future whilst suffering from anxiety.
Looking back all the conversations with my therapist they were never about life without anxiety. It was about living a life where I could manage my anxiety and still go about my day. Her sharing some of her own struggles began to break down this idea of life being so bad with anxiety when managed properly.
As I talked through this idea with my therapist I was sad and down. It seemed a sad reality to me because I couldn’t see a world where I could have anxiety and be happy. This session in particular I left and was firmly locked in my head. I kept going over the conversation and the realisation I had come to. Beating myself up and making myself more and more depressed. Rather than put myself through this any further I decided to get an early night.
The realisation sunk in
The next morning when I woke up I felt so much lighter. I felt as if a massive weight had been taken off my shoulders. I no longer felt depressed and in a weird way, I kind of felt free. It was if overnight everything had sunk in and I had accepted this reality. I was committed to continuous learning to manage this condition. Everything we had been doing in therapy made a little bit more sense. Part of me was still resisting the things I needed to be doing and overnight that resistance had faded.
Looking back over the years of seeing more professionals than I can count. I was always left under the impression I could overcome this and never live a life where I suffer from anxiety again. What wasn’t communicated and should have been better communicated is that Mental Illnesses aren’t all curable. Most of them are manageable and we learn to live with them.
This is something that I am going to have to live with for the rest of my life. With the right treatment though I can live a very fulfilling life. It may not be the life I had planned out. I may still suffer from anxiety from time to time but it won’t always be this way forever.
My life is moving in the right direction for the first time in what feels like forever. I can honestly say I am looking forward to the future. I am also fully committed to learning to manage my anxiety disorder and live the best life I can.