Jessica, 26, Manchester

“In the picture, I look like I really had everything together. The reality was I didn’t and behind this picture my mind was sending me into a downwards spiral.

Although sometimes shy when I first met people, I always considered myself quite confident. I was always up for a new adventure, a chance to travel to new places and to meet new people, I was quite an independent person, so when I was first diagnosed with anxiety I really struggled in accepting the diagnosis. I know now this was purely because I didn’t have a proper understanding of anxiety. I thought people who battled anxiety were nervous around people, almost jittery, I thought they would be socially awkward, not want to go out, I suppose I mainly looked at it as fear. And even though these are symptoms of anxiety I just didn’t feel they applied to me. I would still socialise with my friends, I would go out on my own with Zach as a new-born, I wasn’t afraid to take myself to the local library to join in one of the baby clubs, so how could I have anxiety?

Now I look back its glaringly obvious I did but its only because I’ve become more educated on anxiety. If one thing fell out of routine for me then my mind would spiral. I would start to imagine every scenario of where something had gone wrong, for example if my partner didn’t call back in a certain amount of time I would be out of my mind with worry, convinced that the worst had happened. If a friend didn’t return a text right away I would worry they had fallen out with me. If I let a family member look after Zach I imagined everything going wrong (even though they had way more practice than me!). I was even scared and worried about my appearance offending people.

It left me not really engaging properly in anything I did, my mind was constantly spinning around with worry, envisioning the worst-case scenario for everything. It led to me shutting down, switching off completely. There were days where I would be completely racked with anxiety that I couldn’t eat, let alone drink. I couldn’t even feel hunger because my anxiety over-ridded nearly every other feeling or emotion.

Anxiety had always plagued me I just hadn’t really noticed. From being overbearing with my brothers sometimes, worried that they would be affected by my mother hospital stays to shutting myself away when I put weight on all because I was unhappy with my appearance. Zach in the end had just been a big trigger into making it so much more apparent that I wasn’t okay. I genuinely hadn’t loved anything like I had loved Zach before and knowing that I was responsible for him really upped the pressure and made my anxiety sky rocket.

I’m so much better now, I still have my moments and I think I always will but I know how to handle it when I do. If I start to think that somebody is annoyed or upset at me then I’ll ask instead of letting the scenarios fester in my head. As much as I will always worry about Zach, I don’t fret when I leave him with family members because I know he is fine. A simple check in to see how his day is going has helped to teach me that he is absolutely fine and with people who love him just as much as me. I found the best way for me was therapy, I really got to the root of it all and then everything else just seemed to fall into place, my thoughts became less tangled in the scenarios I had created in my head and I no longer let it take over.

I don’t think you can truly define anxiety, everyone will always feel affected by it in a different way, and it really can affect anyone from any walk of life. But we do need to understand it better. In my case that might have meant a much earlier diagnosis, it might not have, but I feel if we know more about it then we really can help ourselves and others to seek help sooner.”

You can follow Jessica’s healing journey on her homepage.


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