Sunday, February 07, 2016

Waffle: 'She looks fine to me'. Anxiety Mum.

'She looks fine to me'. That common phrase you have probably heard about someone suffering with an invisible illness. Well, it is just that my friends, invisible. As normal and as put together people can look on the outside, it doesn't mean that everything isn't crumbled, terrifying or painful inside. I suffer from anxiety and have recently been dealt the 'she looks fine to me' card and it's really not much fun. It's not something that is going to go away over night.

Looking back, I know I have suffered since I was a child - sat in my bedroom crying while everyone slept, because of some scenario or other I had written in my head and feeling guilty at the same time for having morbid over imaginative thoughts. 'What would I do if my Mum died? How would I cope?' was a common one, now fast forward 25 years and that's me now worrying about my children, husband, family, everything. I don't even do it consciously, my body and mind just do the worrying for me. A couple of unfortunate situations since my childhood have made it a little worse at times and I certainly have a few luckily avoidable triggers that can make it worse.

One big struggle, OK the biggest struggle I have is that people just don't understand it. Perhaps it's the name. If it was called 'Mental and Physical Body Pain', maybe people would be a lot more sympathetic; anxiety makes it sound like we are just a 'little but anxious', this is just so not the case. In actual fact, having to continuously justify and explain myself, just adds to it all. I don't know what, I don't know why, it just is. Why can't that be enough?

I never wanted to discuss anxiety in a blog article, it's my happy, motivating, therapeutic space for me to share my words and be creative, but I decided to write this in a vain attempt to explain how anxiety feels for me and why I may look 'OK' at times, I may have to avoid certain situations, places or people. It's not something I want, or choose to have. It's not always there and I can't control it. It's a massive pain in the arse.

This is something I'm not ashamed of now, but I don't have the energy to battle with it as well as explain myself and I need to be with people, and in places that make me feel well and above all else, happy. I am putting myself first, not before my family, but before things that really don't matter that I usually allow to cloud my days.  I wrote a little poem below to help those without experience of it, maybe understand anxiety a little better. Maybe if you suffer too this could help you explain to others who misunderstand how you are. It varies from person to person, but for me it goes a little something like this;

She looks fine to me?

I walk in the room with a smile on my face,
But inside my heart is beginning to race.

They can't see the tears held back in my eyes, 
Or the pain that's now rushing right up to my thighs.

They can't see my chest closing up really tight, 
Or that trying to breathe is becoming a fight.

They can't see the sound bouncing round in my head, 
Their words making no sense however they're said.

They can't see the danger I write in my mind, 
Why can't they understand, why can't they be kind?

They can't feel the pain I have down in my tummy, 
I have to be strong, to be a good Mummy.

It's not that I'm scared, anxious or worried, 
I just feel that life is so terribly hurried.

I feel like I'm terrified, frightened and wary,
But have no idea what my body finds scary.

They can't see how desperate I am to get out, 
To breathe some fresh air and get rid of this doubt.

I try to be calm and I try to be well, 
But sometimes my body just thinks 'what the hell?'.

I can't stop the pains or the tears or the panic, 
Some days I am fine, some days I feel manic.

So I may well look fine with that smile on my face, 
But please give me time to find my own pace.

I don't need your pity, but please just be kind,  
I'm fighting a battle, right here in my mind.

An attempt to explain anxiety for me, by Laura Jane Wilson. If you're struggling with anxiety or depression, then please do speak up.