It comes as a shock to most people when they find out about my struggle with generalised and social anxiety. I spoke about my experience with anxiety at the beginning of the year which took a lot of balls for me to publicly post and I’ve received some incredible feedback from it. I’m so glad it’s helped people or given them more of an insight into what it’s actually like to suffer from mental health problems because I genuinely thought it would go down like a shit sandwich!
We’re almost a year down the line now and I’m so pleased to say that a lot has changed since I last discussed my anxiety with you. Just to recap, I concluded my previous blog post saying that I was going to go back into CBT because my panic attacks were getting worse and I was really struggling to cope. Socialising became tough and I felt like I was letting people down constantly.
Fast forward to today and so much has changed. In fact, I was spurred on to write this post after I recently overcame a huge ordeal which made me realise how far I’ve progressed this year.
So in November 2017, I unfortunately had to bail on a big event which I was supposed to be attending with work. It was embarrassing and I didn’t want to let the company down but I was at a stage where I couldn’t physically leave my house without facing a bout of anxiety. I cried for weeks leading up to the event and I genuinely felt like if I had attended it would’ve been the end of the world.
This year, we had that exact same event to attend. But d’ya know what? I fucking went. I fucking did it!
I had so much determination to go ever since we got the tickets and there was absolutely nothing that was going to stop me from getting my glad rags on and hopping on the train to London. I think the fact that I actually wanted to go had such a positive impact on my anxiety because it made me more excited rather than anxious which is a feeling I’ve rarely experienced with social events. I was enthused by the thought of whacking the old St Moriz out, digging into my collection of LBDs and practising my makeup look for the evening whereas a year ago I just laid in bed whimpering like a lost soul. I barely experienced any anxiety in the lead up until until two nights before but luckily Toby was on hand to reassure me that everything was going to be okay in the way that works best.
I think the reason I could keep my anxiety at bay was because for once, I wasn’t actually thinking about the night itself. Yanno when someone says ‘don’t think of the colour blue’ and your first thought is to think of the colour blue? Well, I wasn’t even thinking about the colour blue.. BLUE BLUE BLUE.. How many more times can I say it haha but you get the gist. My anxiety was reduced because I kept myself busy (mentally and physically) and even though for the two days prior to the event, I had that horrid anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach, I didn’t invest my time in thinking about it and making myself worse.
When it eventually rolled around to the night, I felt sick as a fucking dog all afternoon, especially when I started getting ready (that’s my trigger) but I battled on through. I kept talking to people in the office about mindless shit which helped and before I knew it, I was on the train heading to London. Once we were up there, I could smoke and drink without feeling too dodgy which is a big deal for someone like me who normally feels even more nauseous after a couple of fags and half a pint. I socialised with people I had never met, didn’t experience a single panic attack and went the entire night without being sick. Now, if there’s anything you need to know about my anxiety, it’s that I normally spend 80% of my night being sick. Like really sick. So getting through a whole awards ceremony without chucking up is an enormous achievement for me and I’m so proud of myself.
But how could my anxiety have changed so much in a year? What did I do differently? What are my coping mechanisms? The simple and extremely unhelpful answer, I don’t know! Obviously, I’m chuffed that on this particular occasion, I didn’t have a panic attack or a severe bout of anxiety and sickness but that’s not to say that there haven’t been times like that this year.
I think the difference between 2018 Katy and 2017 Katy is that I think I’m finally learning how to cope with my anxiety in different situations. I know what I need and who I need it from and I think cutting alcohol from my diet (for the best part anyway) has had an effect too. And even though I did want to go back into therapy in January, I chose not to because I thought I could do it on my own and I’m so glad I made that decision because I’ve proved to myself that I can.
So there’s the update for anyone interested. Just being able to spend the night at a big, swanky work do in London has shown me that I can battle this and even though there are lows, there’s always gonna be a high too!
If you have anxiety, how do you cope with it?