Last year I wrote a post about my anxiety.
I called it Voices, because my anxiety is like living with a constant voice inside my head; a nasty controlling voice that has to point out every worst case scenario and every character flaw I have. I still stand by that analogy, but I've realised something else...anxiety takes something from you, it takes your real voice.
The problem is no-one talks about anxiety, it's not a topic you suddenly bring up in a crowded room or a topic of conversation on the school playground or the open plan office.
No-one actually says ' I suffer from anxiety'. That's because the voice in your head works its evil little magic and instead of being honest and admitting that sometimes we struggle, we say nothing. Our lips move but what we should say is replaced by something else; because that internal voice makes us think that we are the only person who feels like this, the only person who can't cope, why can't we cope? Everyone else can, right?
I have anxiety, and I am guilty of not admitting it.
As recently as last week I admitted it to my best friend and if I'm honest with myself, I only did that because she was having an anxiety attack right in front of me; and do you know something? It changed nothing between us.
I didn't look at her differently and she didn't look at me differently. Instead, I could feel it strengthening our friendship, it gave us a new level of understanding as to some of the decisions that we may not have understood, before and how to better support one another; and avoid triggering anxiety in each other.
I felt lighter. Do you know what else happened? It silenced that voice in my head and it silenced hers too. We weren't alone anymore, we weren't the only ones not dealing with it, not coping with things...and well, that left nothing for the voice to say; there was no worst case scenario, there was no insult to hurl...just beautiful silence.
When I started writing blog posts, I would only ever post them anonymously; my anxiety wouldn't let me put my name to them, I was too afraid of the comments, the negative reception or the criticism of my style, spelling or grammar. After all, who would possibly care about anything I have to say? It's only more recently, that I've felt brave enough to add my name and picture to my writing. Ironically enough because of the feedback. I am realising that I am not alone and a lot of the things that I've gone through others have too; sometimes you just need that one voice to say it out loud.
I'm not sure I'll ever be over my anxiety, I don't think it really works that way and I know that there will be times that the voice wins and I struggle to keep myself together.
I am learning that by admitting that it is there and not hiding it anymore, I am able to silence the voice more often. I am freer to use my real voice and say how I feel and not feel ashamed.
I'm not ashamed anymore and that's quite empowering, and funnily enough it leaves that little internal voice pretty much speechless.