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This week on Sex Bloggers for Mental Health the question was posed ‘What is the biggest struggle you face with your mental health?’, it’s a great question, really thought-provoking and one I absolutely wasn’t going to answer. Except I changed my mind, I answered it and then I decided not to share it. Then I hypocritically told you all to get involved and decided I really should just set this post free.
The bedfellow with whom I share my mind is anxiety. I have had anxiety for so long that it isn’t even something I see as a ‘thing’ it’s just who I am, except it isn’t who I am, I am just so ridiculously acquainted with the face of my anxiety that it is hard to tell us apart. To offer a contrasting experience, I do not feel like this way when I have episodes of depression. I feel like depression is happening to me, my depression is usually a reaction to something specific, but anxiety is just a reaction to living so it is a constant companion, not an occasional visitor.
I first discovered I had anxiety when I explained my sleeping habits to the doctor who informed me that it isn’t normal to go to bed at 9pm because you’re so tired, but lay awake until 1, 2, 3am because you’re worrying so much about the next day or some unknown incident that will likely cause impending doom. I was 21 years old when I had that conversation and that had been my sleep pattern since I was about 10.
That’s 11 years that I was anxious as hell in many aspects of my life and I had no idea because I didn’t ever think to tell anyone how I was feeling. Perhaps in some cases did think about telling them but decided not to worry them because other people are a huge cause of my anxiety.
People and especially people I love are a massive cause for anxiety in my life, though less so now than when I was younger. They just go off to work, driving cars, motorbikes or going on buses and I’m expected to not worry about every possible scenario that might befall them on a daily basis? That always seemed like such an impossible task to me. In my mind worrying about and imagining the worse kept the worse case scenarios away. I always felt like living it in my head would mean I wouldn’t be forced to live it in real life.
In probably a tragic case of irony, my Mum’s death actually calmed this particular part of my anxiety. When she got her diagnosis I went into full worry mode, I imagined all the scenarios in my head, the worst, of course, having to say goodbye to her. When that happened I realised my worrying was for nothing and no matter what silly games my head plays with me, life with happen the way it happens.
That one small aspect of how anxiety manifests within me. February is looking to be quite a busy month for me, most of it good, awesome stuff. It will, however, involve a lot of contact with people and I am already panicking. I don’t always fare well when I have back to back days of interaction with others without any time alone. I could just cross that bridge when I come to it though, in about 4 weeks time, that would be the non-anxious way of doing it. My way though is to have an overwhelming feeling of anxiety surrounding it all, which is also manifesting in lack of self-confidence and a general feeling of not being good enough for all the wonderful people I have in my life.
Not to be left out my body also ensures I have physical manifestations of anxiety too, increased heartbeat, tiredness, dizziness and headaches will all be present at varying times to ensure I am well aware that there is much to fret over at the moment.
I am trying very hard to accept and acknowledge that anxiety is my main struggle with mental health and that I can work through it rather than just succumbing to it. Quite often though I feel like those episodes of increased anxiety are necessary for me to function and eventually have fun or succeed at something, they’re not, they’re absolutely not and deep down I know this. But separating myself from my anxiety for long enough to truly see this is action is something I am still working on.
Even now my anxiety is what is holding me back from sharing this post, because my doctor referred to my anxiety as functional, quite often pushing me to do more (have you seen all the blog posts lately?) not less, so I often think my experience isn’t as bad as others and it makes me anxious to take the spotlight of sharing away from some else.
That line of thinking absolutely isn’t conducive to helping myself or others though. The whole point of Cat’s project is to talk about all aspects of mental health more, to destigmatise it and let people know they are not alone. It is a cause I believe in wholeheartedly and I can’t really show that or help make any changes if I don’t put myself out there a little bit.
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I pledge my commitment to blog for my mental health. I will write about mental health topics not only for myself but for others. I do this to destigmatize mental illness and to promote mental health awareness & education. I am a sex blogger for mental health. #sb4mh #bfmh #notalone #SexNotStigma
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