I’m Holly and I’m free from negativity!
I can’t tell you when my anxiety started, or what triggered it. I was very young, and a lot of my memories of that time are more fragments than whole scenes. I remember being in a counsellor’s room, drawing pictures of my family and my home with coloured pencils from an old Milo tin.
I remember the three hour drive home from seeing a counsellor (I’m not sure if it was the same one that made me draw the pictures). It was long past my bedtime and I’d been bought a Sabrina the Teenage Witch magazine for being good. I got free nail polish.
I remember being on holiday with my family and having an attack that was so severe my muscles seized and I couldn’t move, let alone walk, for what felt like hours.
I remember the breathing techniques to get me through each attack – blowing on a tissue, counting on my fingers.
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My childhood anxiety would spring on me at random times.
I couldn’t predict when an attack would occur, I could only feel it come, and ride it out. I can only imagine how difficult this was on the people around me, who felt as though they couldn’t do anything.
From this anxiety came a deep fear of getting ill. I was scared of illness, particularly throwing up. Any mention of being sick became a trigger for me, and would send me in to another panic attack. This made it very tricky to watch television, particularly as I got older. TV shows and movies don’t mention when an episode will have someone being sick, so the television was more or less a minefield for me.
I didn’t know why this was happening to me, and I couldn’t figure out how to get it under control. I felt totally unsure of myself, and I felt like no one could quite understand what was going on. It’s so difficult to explain what anxiety feels like, and it can be totally different from day to day.
The hardest part for people who haven’t experiences anxiety is understanding it can’t just be stopped. Someone having a panic attack can’t just “breathe normally” and “calm down.” This leaves the person having the attack feeling more stressed, and other person feeling helpless. It’s very easy to fall in to a negative mindset, which only makes things worse.
It’s hard to stay positive when it feels like your own body and mind has waged war against you.
But now, I’ve learned the only way you can begin on the journey of recovery: by saying to yourself, “This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, but this is also teaching me about myself, and that’s pretty awesome. I’m stronger for this struggle, I’ve survived this long, and I’ll survive for a lot longer.”
As I’ve grown up, my anxiety has stayed with me. Now it’s most apparent when I need to speak with strangers, particularly on the phone and in unfamiliar environments, and I am still very sensitive to illness.
This all being said, I still say I’m recovered.
Why? Because recovery is an endless road, but one full of learning and new experiences and confidence. Yes, I still get anxious, but I know how to keep myself calm, and I can identify when I’m in a situation that makes me feel uncomfortable.
Most importantly, I no longer feel bad about having anxiety. I understand it and it’s helped to shape who I am. I am free from fear, and I am free from negativity.
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