Writing through anxiety…

I’m shaking slightly and am over alert to every person, every noise –anyone who’s near me. A man talks to me asking if I’m getting the train to London. I say yes and he tells me that the next train goes to Baker Street. That’s where I want to go but my mind has gone blank. I can’t think and the more I try to think the more there’s just fog. I’m taking my deep breaths as I recognise the familiar underground signs and trains as this was my daily life some 18 years ago and I did it with a ‘cello on my back.

My train journeys then were long and always standing as a ‘cello is a large thing in small space and seats on trains are precious at the best of times. I’ve travelled back early, late and got the last train home filled with other weary travellers desperate to get home and away from the crammed train. The highlight of one of my journeys being a drunk businessman trying to chat up my ‘cello. It is large and small person shaped but he must have had a few more than a few to many to chat to a ‘cello case! There are announcements over tannoys then as now and I listen as ever I used to but I’m a totally different person from the young girl with a place at Music College and a ‘cello on her back travelling around London…

I suffer from anxiety.

I have done all my life. I make friends, people seem to like me, but I have trouble being a friend. I don’t ring new friends –did they really mean it when they said they’d like to meet up or were they just being kind? I don’t follow up invites to nights out –I’m sure I was included just because I was there. I fret over things, I’ve said too much –I hope they realise this is just my sense of humour, and I really want to be a better friend and I honestly believe I would if it weren’t for the nagging doubts that constantly fill my mind in new situations.

I say new situations as old situations are fine. Familiarity is my real friend and perhaps my best friend. I know where I am with familiarity. I know the expectations, the pitfalls and that there are no hidden extras. Nothing will sneak up on me. Unfortunately I am currently not with familiarity but with her ugly sister un-familiarity as I am sat on a train going into the heart of London. The smell hasn’t changed neither has the destination – Baker Street – as I’ve been there many times before. What has changed is my heart is beating fast and I am hyper sensitive to everyone around me. I am writing this just to stop my mind racing about how far away from home I am, going who knows quite where…Well, yes I do know quite where but the blank fog that is my mind would have me believe it is the road to nowhere. You do not know how hard it is to go stop by stop down the line and how hard it is not to get off, run as fast as I can back to my car, my home and my children…

Anxiety is debilitating, it’s paralysing and it’s bloody scary. I can be fine one minute and then absolutely terrified the next for little or no reason. Old friends are fabulous as they understand (Mrs B and Mrs F, amongst others, have been amazing over the years and I thank you x) they know me and they’ve seen the panic attacks, the weight loss and the sheer unhappiness that anxiety can bring. They support, listen and help but most of all they give me the space I need to act a little strange, cancel meet ups and appear to disappear as answering the phone and letters become too difficult.

I sometimes do things to keep me well having been through sessions of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy –what we think influences how we behave so we can alter our behaviour by altering our thinking) I know this is important. I’ll pop into an estate agent and ask for details of a house I’ve no intentions of buying just to put myself in unfamiliar territory. The agent will never know how much he has helped me when he asks about no of bedrooms needed and possible budget. I’ll invite people over even though it scares the heck out of me as I know I won’t feel comfortable. Even though the house will be immaculate I’ll still worry over those jobs that haven’t been done as they shine out at me like a belisha beacon shouting ‘HERE I AM, YOU KNOW I LOOK AWFUL!!’ I know no-one really cares about my house, I know I don’t judge others for theirs but anxiety makes an otherwise sane person lose sleep unnecessarily over cracked paint, dirty sinks and stains on the carpet…

4 stops down the line and I’m feeling slowly better. My heart is no longer racing and the shakes have also gone. The anxieties are going; just as they always do so running home wouldn’t have solved the problem. Avoidance is unfamiliarity’s best buddy and turning home would have made the next time far worse. So the sleepless nights I’ve had the past few nights that weren’t entirely due to the baby and the clenching of my jaw (when I am aware of it) that causes aching will all have been worth it when I step off the train in Baker Street; the station that’s famous for Sherlock Holmes. I would love to be able to walk round to 221b Baker Street, knock on the door and ask Sherlock Holmes directly for help in solving the mystery of me. He would analyse, deduce and then pronounce a cure or at the very least a reason…

I would give anything to be braver, to be freer, to not be quite so uptight and to be able to dive headfirst into new opportunities instead of ‘What if’s..?’ filling my mind.

The pencil is marking the paper; this is an old fashioned ‘written’ blog and I am coming to the end. Listening to the ladies next to me complaining about their work day and seeing the businessman in his grey suit with his polished shoes reading the paper left behind by someone else makes me remember the normality of the situation and I think, maybe, that this time, it really will be okay…


About littlewhitecottage

Emma is a qualified teacher with 14 years of teaching in many different settings. From teaching adults and children at a music school to choosing to work in a demanding primary school that was failing (which meant moving from an outstanding school – her colleagues were aghast!) to running her own sewing business for the last 5 ½ years teaching all ages how to sew: Emma loves to teach.
This entry was posted in Read about me, The random thoughts of me and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Writing through anxiety…

  1. You could have written that about me. It’s very hard to explain simply to people what you are going through when you cancel or say you “just can’t go there”. I too had CBT which has helped a little, but I am in no way cured. I wish there was a cure, a pill that could take it all away.
    You just learn to cope. I hope that one day I will realise that I have stopped coping and I am free from the binds that anxiety holds over me.

  2. a brave retort, that in writing and sharing, you’re poking anxiety in the chest. “not today, old man, not today”. From another confidant on the surface, quaking underneath person xxx

  3. This is so me, i also have depression really bad & have to take slow release medication every day to try & help with that, i am always scared of what people think, especially about me, i just want people to like me, i always try & find an excuse not to go any where, i always think the invites come because they feel sorry for me. I find it hard to keep friends as i think they just get fed up with & so the invites stop coming, my neighbour who i will chat with if he see’s me calls me a hurmit, sometimes i just want to run free i would love to be able to just take off & go somewhere & not care about anything, i feel awful for my children as i know i have let them down as i will not go anywhere with I need someone with me, i feel i have failed them big time 😥 sorry

  4. Yvonne says:

    I can relate to everything you have written about. For years I suffered anxiety and depression, avoiding going into town, avoiding meeting friends for coffee and making excuses not to attend social functions. The paranoia can be debilitating. Like you I worry what people think about me, my house and my work. Taking my home-made crafts round craft shops in the hope that they will like my work enough to take on a few pieces for sale in their shop, while the whole time fearing rejection. On the other hand I don’t take compliments well,as I’m always thinking someone is just saying it to be polite.

    Like you when I was younger I was a confident person taking each day as it comes, without a care. Where does that confidence go? I think there must be a ‘lost & found for confidences’ somewhere, full of people’s lost confidences, all waiting to be reclaimed by their owners!

  5. shona alderson says:

    Thank you for such a frank and heartbreaking blog. I look at your blog and think, Ive done that, but isnt that just who I am, no one will believe me when I say Im worried, anxious or paraniod. Everyone thinks Im so confident but its a mask I wear to hide underneath. The worry of rejection is imense, its probably why Im really bad at keeping in touch with friends, luckily I have some wonderful friends and a fantastic partner who understands this and helps me through the day. Again Thank You

  6. Hello, Zoe here from Scented Sweetpeas. Loved this bloggy post. x

  7. I have sat here reading your blog Emma with so much emapathy,I suffer from panic attacks and
    agoraphobia and the only thing that makes it bearable is familiarity. I’ve always tried to help myself and not yet relied on medication. On a good day I will go shopping with my son as long as he’s taking me ther and back in the car , On a bad day ,I can’t even venture out to the local shop for a pint of milk. My family seem to think I’m unsociable but they so wrong. Lovley read Emma thanks for sharing x

  8. Mrs B says:

    xxx – great blog love from Mrs B.

  9. loved this as sums up the way i am.constanly worrying about every choice i make.am i doing the right thing?should iv brought tha+?will it affect others around?cant say no incase it upset o+hers and if i do what will they think of me or be saying!thank u for this blog knowing others are like this makes me feel less crazy!x

  10. Ana says:

    dear me – I am starting to wonder if fate brought me to stumble on your facebook page the other day. your breastfeeding/bottle feeding post could have been me writing and so could this. anxiety ruins my life and I hate life because of it, I am terrified of passing it on to my children. but just reading that other people suffer the same really helps. thank you for being honest x

  11. jill schofield says:

    Very brave being so open & honest about it, well done you, how long has it took you to get to this stage pls, I can relate to every word 🙂

  12. Gillian says:

    Fate has sent me here because a friend on facebook liked your comment. Are you sure that you weren’t in my head when you wrote your blog? lol I wish their was a magic wand that could be waived and be told you are are cured. Alas there is not. I wish you and all others well on your journey to health. Thank you. xx

  13. Jules says:

    Have you been living in my brain?? You have just described me perfectly, I’ve never been able to fully describe how debilitating it is, and how painful…..I suffer with abdominal pains when I get anxious and then can’t eat properly for weeks as I feel like throwing up every meal time, and that’s just facing one thing I really don’t want to do 😦 I haven’t answered post or the home phone in 6 years, only a couple of REAL friends call my mobile and I sometimes answer them, but not always, most of my communication is done by text with them. I am so thankful for an understanding husband and daughter, and also for my sewing and crochet, I can lose myself in that and forget the world exists…….have tried counseling, CBT, all manner of things but just cannot get a handle on it and I really couldn’t cope with going over and over it, it just made me feel worse than ever and highlighted to me what a freak I am, in my case I think it did more damage than good 😦 thanks for being so brave and eloquent and good on you for any step, however big or small, you take in moving forward, lots of love 🙂

  14. Kat says:

    It’s a strange world. Only yesterday while I was at an event with my goodies. I got chatting to a nearby stand and she mentioned her blog, I asked her more as my head must be in the sand or I’m far too busy to stop and read. Either way I then realised that blogging is like a diary entry and your thoughts . So while I sit here now breast feeding I had a moment to look at fb, what did I find but your status directing me to your blog….. I read it and like all the other comments find myself realising its me I feel this way too and always have. I have good batches of time when it’s flowing well then it kicks in real sudden again without warning. I didn’t Realize others were feeling the same. It’s refreshing to feel quite normal and it’s no just me. Thanks xxx

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