‘I am a work in progress’
I am still battling with my thoughts whether this is a good post or something maybe too personal. To be honest, the very thing that helped with my Anxiety, was knowing I wasn’t as alone as I thought I was, so I’m hoping, even though my blog is so small in the wide space of the Universe, that maybe someone has feeling what I have felt and therefore it will help them feel less alone.
Also, you’ll get to see some of my favourite photos from my visit to the Tate Modern in London, somewhere I’d never been before, and somewhere I probably wouldn’t have gone if you were to ask me a year ago.
Growing up, I was working my life around an eating disorder and of course, my oldest friend, anxiety. I hated food, I hated every aspect of it and even in the past year I remember thinking how much easier my life would be if I just didn’t need food.
I understand that will seem ridiculous, and I even thought that at the time, but I just hated it. Every time it came to ‘meal time’, sitting around people forcing myself to eat as much as I could of a big plate of food, just felt like torture.
Of course, when I was young this meant I had a very low weight. I never wanted to be unhealthy of course, but I just had a bad relationship with food and it’s not something I’d ever enjoyed. Luckily, my parents were very supportive, I started to go to group therapy with other children my age and this helped me a little. Enough to get my eating back on track anyway.
As I grew up and made my way through things like School and College, Anxiety was always a horrible feeling in the back of my mind. I remember leaving school and college early a lot because it could just take over.
When I left College and started working, I feel like Anxiety took over my life entirely. Thinking the worst case in every possible scenario became exhausting, the sleepless nights, panic attacks, lack of eating and in the worst cases, anxiety would end up making me physically sick that I eventually came to conclusion that things that I’d missed out on probably weren’t worth it….
As my life came to this point, I hadn’t took too much notice of it. I let anxiety take everything from me, and for a long time all I did was go to work and go home and go to work and go home. Work made me anxious enough, every single day, that by the time a day off came I had made myself exhausted.
It took me a very long time before I realised how sad my life had become.
As a young adult, you are given your own choices. Of course, like any parents do, I was made to go to parties and school and events but as I got older, the choices are now my own, and if I want to avoid everything, I can, and I don’t even have to give you a reason.
The truth is, when you let Anxiety, or any Mental Health, rule your life your world becomes very safe but also very very small. When all you do is go to work and go home, you can simply look on facebook or instagram or whatever, and see all your friends moving away from home, getting careers and going to university and you realise how dull you’ve made your life.
Even though I was at my oldest, I’d never felt younger and more lost.
The worst part about my Anxiety was the fact it had started making me physically ill, so I went to the doctors and was prescribed some medication, which helped me get through a few events I couldn’t avoid, like a job interview and a day out with a friend.
I was also told to go to a 6 week Therapy course, which honestly was not helpful to me at all and changed my view on therapy for a while. By the time the 6 weeks was over it just felt like I was thrown back out into the world and had been labelled as ‘Better’ when really, I just felt the same.
I began to wonder if this is just how I would be forever.
I still had a very close friend, supportive family and a wonderful boyfriend, but even with these people in my life I still felt depressed and weak, like the world was just too big and chaotic for me to ever be ‘okay’ in.
There was only one thing that gave me comfort, and in my younger days helped me a lot. That thing, was making.
I can’t even remember what happened, but I remember reading an article online, that there was a lady with depression, who started to make Teddy Bears. Out of her sadness, she started making these Bears, she must have made 100s of them, and I believe she gave them to children in hospitals or something along those lines (I tried to search but I couldn’t find the article now).
I found this to be so wonderful, like making something beautiful from the bad. So instead of spending days and days feeling low, I started to put my feelings into making, and I felt like I had reconnected with myself, somehow.
I started drawing more again, selling more online, then I found some fun tutorials online for making plushies and I really loved the idea of that. I made a Yeti with cute horns following a tutorial, I went and picked out the softest fur before I started work one day and sewed it all by hand.
I felt like I had found something to have fun with again. My dad gave me his old sewing machine, which barely worked but did the job, so I made simple stretchy skater skirts and tshirts with help from the internet.
I enjoyed making so much, that even though I was so afraid, I decided to go for a day class in a nearby town to sew more. I was so scared that I wanted to turn back the whole time I was going, and as I entered the class (late too) I thought I would only last a few minutes.
And all I remember thinking was ‘I need this’ so I stayed and did the whole day. Everyone there was much older then me, but I had fun and we made cute pin cushions. The lady in the class worked at a University nearby too, and asked about whether it would be something I’d be interested, considering my age. I said I’d like too, but I didn’t think I was good enough, she said ‘Well, you’re there to learn’.
The thought of studying seemed like a nightmare to me, and something I ‘wouldn’t last 10 minutes at’ but all the same I said I’d think about it.
I worked a lot of shifts so I could save up and brought a sewing machine with all the singing and dancing features.
And through the more days and nights I spent sewing, I decided that I all I ever wanted to do was making. I wanted to try to make a career out of it.
So, I went back to college and my old tutor helped me create my portfolio. I applied for only one University that I liked, and got an interview. I remember hearing that only 10% off the people that apply get in, so when I refreshed my emails every day for an answer, I began to assume it wasn’t meant to be…
But I got in!
And I’d like to say I instantly got better, but the fact was I got a whole lot worse. As it lead to me starting University, I stopped eating again and became quite ill. I had to got to the doctors, fill out forms and then I got sent back to Therapy. They offered me a six week course, which I politely declined. Instead, they put me down with a different therapist, who didn’t have a time limit, just as long as I needed her.
This made a lot more sense to me, and on meeting her I got a whole new feeling, she was kind and I felt more like she listened and took on my feelings. She gave me work sheets to do as ‘homework’ so I would get more out of it then just the hour session every week, just simple tasks like filling out my thoughts on when I panicked and working out why I had these feelings.
I found this so helpful, and I was able to learn so much about myself and how my brain worked.
And through all this, here I am now, midway through my first year of University, finishing therapy and getting healthy again.
I would like to say that, Anxiety or any sort of it, can be solved just by changing your way of thinking, but it’s not that easy at all. For almost all my life I felt like I didn’t belong in the world. It’s only when you truly believe that you deserve more, that you can start to make little changes and except help when its offered.
I still get Anxiety most days now, but when this feeling once made me hide away, I am able to push it to one side and think ‘not today’. I feel I have a little more power over it, which has really changed my life.
I know that Anxiety will probably always be there, but when I think about it now its just a much smaller part, and I don’t feel like it has to define who I am anymore.
The conclusion is, never settle for anything. If you have Anxiety, or any other form of Mental Health, it doesn’t need to control your life. Yes, it’s a hard and tiring journey, but its so worth it in the end to be able to get your life back. Just opening up to a Doctor and see what can be done to help, there is nothing to be ashamed off, especially when you think that 1 in 4 people will experience a Mental Health problem each year. You are really not alone.
So, I guess this post was a little different the my usual, but its something I felt I needed to write about for a while and come to terms with. I’ve felt so ashamed of my Mental Health for years, I always feared people would find out and I’d be labelled as crazy or weak or maybe just looking for attention. So now, as I write this post, I’m happy for people to know, because although I had this problem, it’s absolutely not what defines me!
I’ll be back with something more joyful soon! Thank you so much for reading anyway! – Ellie