Firstly, I want to say that Anxiety, like any illness, mental or physical, is totally personal. It might affect me in a completely different way to the way that it affects you, your friend, someone else you read about on the internet 🙂
I’m going to share a little bit about how my anxiety feels and what I do to try to cope with it- I had such an incredible reaction to my Instagram post a few weeks ago that I wanted to share a little more with you lovely lot.
I’ve always been a nervous person, getting really worked up before tests, first days, even little things like nights out at uni. I’d be worried that something would go wrong, that I wouldn’t be wearing the right thing, that no-one would speak to me, that I’d get too drunk, that I wouldn’t have fun. Some of my fears were rational and understandable, lots of them were ridiculous. My stomach would be in turmoil, and I would do what has now been semi-affectionatly known as my ‘nervous poo’ before every single night out. At work, whenever my boss would be called in to speak to our big boss, I was convinced I was about to be fired.
My headaches are a constant source of anxiety, and the more I worry about getting a migraine on a big day, before an exam, at a wedding, on a night out, the more likely I am to get a headache. A viscous cycle.
Being a blogger and working with social media only heightens these feelings of anxiety, I’m worried about what I’m posting, fear of being judged, worried about being bitched about by other bloggers, anxious about being blacklisted by PRs and not being invited to events. When I’m not invited to an event I worry that it’s because I don’t look enough like a fitness blogger, that they don’t like me, that they think my blog is rubbish. It can be crippling.
Unfortunately this desire to be accepted, invited, liked, doesn’t go hand in hand with my brutal honesty and sometimes outspoken opinions. I often spend hours after a dinner party, event or conversation going over what I said and analysing each little part for the things that I said ‘wrong’.
I didn’t actually realise that I was suffering with anxiety until a year ago, when I started reading about other people who would endure the constant inner struggle that I deal with. Interestingly, Tom didn’t know it was a ‘thing’ either, he just thought I was tense, got stressed out easily and needed to have irrational fears calmed on a regular basis.
For me, feeling anxious manifests itself in an uneasiness throughout, I hold myself so tightly, tensing my entire body without even realising it. It can feel like butterflies in my stomach, and as previously mentioned, an unhappy digestive system.
So what helps me?
Well for me one of the best things is being stroked on the head (I understand that makes me sound like a puppy) by Tom, it’s one of the only times that I can feel my body physically relax. The act of slowing down, breathing deeply and trying to clear my mind helps too.
Turning off my phone, and stepping away from the laptop is great. Sitting on the sofa, cooking a meal or doing an activity without my phone and the constant checking Whatsapp, social media etc is good for everyone.
Exercising. This has honestly helped so much, although I feel anxious before every class I take, I always feel better after a walk, run or fitness class. Mostly it’s because I have to focus on something other than my thoughts or it gives me time and space to process them.
Getting out of the city. In October I was in NYC and I felt like it was an assault on the senses- too much, too fast, too busy, too intense. I hadn’t felt like that about London before, but I have been thinking more lately about moving somewhere slightly outside of London with a bit more green space.
Talking about it things helps. I speak to Tom and my Mum, and sometimes one of my doctor friends about how I’m feeling. Usually they can help calm me down, and work through what I can do about each of my worries, rational or irrational.
A nice cup of tea, a running joke in my family but I do love it. Preferably with a biscuit or piece of cake.
What helps me might not be what helps others, and I know that there are a number of proper treatments available, from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), magnesium supplements, prescription drugs, mindfulness and meditation. It’s worth going to speak with your doctor if you’re worried- last year I felt my anxiety had skyrocketed and was debilitating, however during my GP appointment it transpired that my migraine medication was the cause of this spike and could be fixed by switching my medication.
One of the important things to know is that if you do suffer with anxiety, or any other medical condition, you are not alone. I love that mental health is being talked about far more these days, long may it continue.
Wearing: New Look leggings (similar here), Fabletics top, Nike Internationalist trainers
I understand where you’re coming from, last night the gym where I go for S&C had a get together in a local pub, I didn’t want to go at all! Got ready and stressed about all of that, then when I went downstairs one of my children said “mum you know you’ll have fun when you get there!” So I went just for an hour and a half but I did enjoy it!
Thank you for sharing – especially so eloquently! I always thought I suffered more from depression than anxiety, but after a trip to our Occupational Health nurse (who used to be a mental health nurse) on a routine trip, he made me aware to the anxiety that I held which fuelled, to a point, my depression. I find it really hard to write about (and don’t think I have ever done so, publicly, in depth), and admire anyone who does!
Great tips! Thanks so much for sharing your story!!
Sorry to hear that you suffer from anxiety so much and you’re certainly right in your description of its potential to be”crippling”. Good for you for being able to talk about it and thanks for sharing 🙂
Reading this post was really eye opening – I started reading and suddenly found myself rather surprised that I experience many of the same emotions/concerns. I guess I had always put it down to being one of life worriers but sometimes, If I’m really honest it can completely take over – I’ve not attended events and so on because I get myself in such a state over it, I always worry I’ll be sack and some day’s even having my hair stoked (best feeling in the world) won’t make it better.
Thank you for writing this, we should all speak up a little more…x
Long time reader- just wanted you to know that this really resonates with me- I have suffered from “serious” anxiety at times in my life, but the whole “constantly worrying if people like me/are annoyed with me/are judging me” part really resonated with me- and helped me to remember that while I’m not currently struggling with “serious” anxiety, those feelings (that I have CONSTANTLY) are symptoms of anxiety as well! I know it’s a constant struggle, and I’m with you! Good for you for speaking out on this!
Thanks for sharing. I don’t get nervous before tests or events but I always feel tense and rushed like I have a million things to do and not enough time to get them all done. It is exhausting. I totally agree on the exercise helping, especially if it can be outside in the fresh air!
I feel like I am reading about myself…
I very much know the “nervous poo” and the “I am going to get fired feeling”
Thanks for sharing and let us know if you find the magic cure 🙂
What a brilliant thing you’re doing. Sharing these thoughts and feelings will help so many and help reduce stigma around anxiety.
First rate post CW. X
I love MANY with anxiety and I think I never really “got it” until I ready Jenny Lawson’s first book.
Have you read that? Id be curious what you think…
This is a fantastic post and very helpful for so many people. I think there are many runners/athletes who suffer from anxiety in various forms/degrees. Before every single race, I can get worked up into a tizzy, but usually once the gun sounds, I can relax and get into a rhythm. You have shared some great ways to relax and yes, I am making my cup of morning tea!
I think you are courageous, and an inspiration to many women. Thank you for writing so honestly
So much love for the fact that you talked about your “nervous poo”! It’s like a night out ritual for me too ???? I totally relate with the desire to be liked/wanted as well – I often feel as though I’m not good enough if I don’t get invited to things, and go over and over things I’ve said to people all the time… even as much as a year or more later!
The good news? None of this comes across in person – I’ve met you a couple of times now and always found you to be friendly, interesting (and interested), and totally 100% confident – you’re killing it!
First time reader and I’m definitely adding you to my feed, so happy to find this post and your blog! I also think anxiety is a big deal with a lot of runners but also people in general. In my opinion one of the best things you mentioned is not the cure but the realization, most people don’t know it’s a “thing.” Everyone thinks your just type A stressed which might be part of it but it’s probably not all of it. I find exercise helps the most, in fact it’s one of the reasons I fell in love with running. You can work out anything on a long run, you can realize how much you don’t have to be anxious about, you can come up with solutions to your problems. I also love the hot tea, I’ve almost always got a glass with me when I work on my computer, helps quel the anxiety for sure! Thanks for posting!
Thank you for writing this. The line, “he just thought I was tense, got stressed out easily and needed to have irrational fears calmed on a regular basis” really struck a chord.
I suffer from anxiety too and it is something I find myself dealing with, in some form or other, on a daily basis.
Over the years I have developed coping mechanisms that work best for me and I am lucky enough to have a very supportive husband. It isn’t something he suffers from, or knew much about, but he has gone out of his way to understand how and why it affects me. It seems like Tom provides brilliant support for you too.
Thank you for sharing your experience, it is absolutely something that resonates with me and certainly makes me feel less alone ???? x
Girl, I totally hear you! I suffer from anxiety (a bit differently than you – I get heart palpitations, chest pain, and a really weird shaking feeling inside my body but not on the outside) and for a while I was terrified that something awful was wrong with me. It took a visit to the doctor to help me realize what it was and how to make it better. What really helped me was when I told all my friends what was going on, and quite a few of them told me about their experiences with anxiety too! It was amazing to realize that other people were going through similar things and that I wasn’t alone or weird. I love that you’re so open about sharing it. It’s so important to own it and find ways to move past it when we can!
So we are not alone out there!It is good to here about others !Anxiety is the new modern world illness I think!I could see myself in your words.Thank’s for sharing I feel better now!
Hope you’re coping ok with it. I’ve never met you but the impression I get from reading your blog is that you’re a very confident person. Don’t worry what people think of you (easy for me to say I know), just be happy with yourself and enjoy spending time with your friends and family. And I agree, life outside central London is much more relaxing!
I too suffer from anxiety. I’ve always been nervous & a worrier. About the most ridiculous little things & the big stuff. Going through infertility really brought things to a head. I wasn’t sleeping & I felt awful. I finally talked to my Dr. & she diagnosed me & I discovered I was having anxiety attacks. I’m on meds & have been for 10 years now. I don’t love that I have to take a pill everyday but I do feel better & feel like I’m in better control. It tends to really intensify around the holidays when there’s so much to do & not enough time. Last week while planning a engagement party with friends on top of all of the other things going on the week before Christmas I honestly thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest. People that don’t suffer with anxiety don’t understand which only adds to my stress levels. I’m glad you wrote this post. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.
Great post Charlie! Have you ever discovered where your anxiety comes from? That could be key to understanding it and effectively removing it, or at least reducing the effect it has on you 🙂
I’m a bit behind, but wanted to say great post. I have suffered with anxiety since school. Then it was getting nervous about speaking in class or with people I didn’t know. Then at uni I was worried I wasn’t good enough at my degree subject (languages – so speaking classes were a nightmare for me!!), and then after uni it turned into panic attacks. I managed to get the panic under control with CBT and meditation/mindfulness but I still have daily anxiety about life – it’s mostly thinking I’m not good enough and my job / my nutrition course, and worrying about what I’ve said in meetings or with friends (replaying it afterwards). I manage my anxiety with yoga, meditation and exercise. I also like reading inspiring and self-help books, there are loads out there now. I think it’s great to share our feelings about this too – it’s good to realise I’m not alone! I find that blogging and social media are really bad for my anxiety and so I have recently stepped away from it – I quit Instagram and Twitter, and have taken my blog offline for a while. It has helped with not comparing myself to other so much, although I miss blogging 🙂 Thanks for posting about this! Louise xx
Thanks so much for commenting Louise. I agree social media and blogging can be awful for my anxiety and there are days that I do want to switch everything off and move to the Outer Hebrides to get away from it all. However when people like you comment or reach out it makes it all worth it. Comparing myself to others – blogs, bodies, life is so tough and something I really struggle with and it does make me feel completely useless and inadequate some days. Hope you can find a place where you can blog again soon (if that’s what you want to do!) xxx