It’s all I can think. I keep wondering if my body could kill me. There are moments when my heart is beating so hard in my chest that it feels like it’s attacking my breastbone, trying to punch its way out. I was walking down the street today to look at a co-working space that I knew I couldn’t afford, but just wanted an excuse to leave the house, feel professional – feel like I’m achieving something. I had to stop mid-walk to take deep breaths to calm my heart. I was so sure it was going to escape my body.
Anxiety isn’t some physical being, no matter how much it feels like it. It’s chemical and it cannot kill me.
I had a 10 day emotional trip to Vancouver, Canada. Myself, some cousins, uncles and aunties were spending time with my grandad since my grandma past away last year. It was the first time back in Duncan, Vancouver Island since she had gone. The first time in the house without her incessant pot banging. Without her ‘Sharan! Come help me in the kitchen you useless child!’. It was all missed dearly. I would look out at her garden but was too scared to spend any time there. Instead I asked my grandad “who’s taking care of the garden”.
“The community”, he responded and I felt a wave of happiness. My grandad still looked sad, though. As I beamed, his clouds were still surrounding me.
That’s when my anxiety started getting bad.
I’ve been unable to cry for a long time. When I returned from Vancouver, I was feeling on edge, suffering from jet lag and having to return to meetings. I was finding it harder and harder to spend time on my own because I knew doing so would mean dealing with my ‘monster’.
My flat mate and good friend moved out on Saturday to live with her boyfriend and I felt loss. When she left the flat, memories of sitting alone in my old flat after splitting up with my fiance came back to me. She saved me from the tears by getting me to our new flat but now she had gone.
I finally cried, but for a few seconds. My body wouldn’t allow me much more.
That night I went to a good friend’s leaving do (he’s moving to Canada), and I find out that very ex I was thinking about earlier was going to turn up. It would be the first time since last year, when we parted at the flat. I felt scared and excited - I was nervous (my anxiety was the only constant in my life) but really wanted to see him and ask him how he was doing. I wanted to hear stories from him about his life and wanted to see how happy he was.
It may have been selfish for me to think this. The interaction didn’t go like that, it was dismissive, lasted under 10 seconds and he left. It was cold.
I cried again, in the toilets of a pub. This lasted for probably 30 seconds, but I was quite drunk at that point. The sadness was taking over my emotions and feeding my anxiety. I was no fun the rest of the night and hadn’t really slept or eaten properly since my return from Canada, so as you may expect, found myself very drunk, quite emotional and the next day - the most hungover I’ve been in years.
This was now peak anxiety. My heart was beating so hard and fast, it was all I could hear. I couldn’t sleep and hallucinations were taking over.
I suffer from sleep paralysis on occasion, but this was different. I would see figures, movements and different scenes inside my bedroom. People were talking directly in my ear. The whole atmosphere around me would change and I knew I would fall into deep fear. I couldn’t sleep. I haven’t slept. I’m too scared to sleep. I’m scared of my room. My light is always on, Friends always on in the background and I find myself throwing water on my face regularly to stay awake.
I have so much to do in my life, that I can’t let this be it. So, I’m taking some steps to deal with it. I’m reading a book leant to me from my good friend Saima, called DARE: A New Way To End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks by Barry McDonagh. It’s 2:30am right now and I’m planning on waiting until daybreak so I can go for a run. I can’t remember the last time I exercised. I want to come back, have a shower, go to a cafe and do some work before my meetings. That feels like normal behaviour.
So I guess this is me documenting my journey. Who knows what will happen. I’m terrible at taking care of myself, I hate exercise, I barely eat and when I do it’s awful food. I want to change all that but my willpower is weak. I want to be able to function without fear and I need to put energy into it.
I also want to normalise these symptoms and struggles. Yes I talk about my mental health regularly, because I have no filter, but it’s important to talk about it in depth, about all the things you can’t or won’t imagine can be shared experiences.
I’m going to regularly update my journey. Hopefully.