Living with Anxiety

Hello.

I’ve wanted to blog about my anxiety disorder for such a long time, and today I’m finally ready to sit down and talk about it. I’ve spoken to the Journal about my mental health and shared my story over on SpunOut, but I felt like it was time to write about it here on Scribbles By Kat.

I’ve been battling with anxiety for over two years now. There have been many difficult moments during this ongoing battle, from extreme panic attacks to isolating myself from friends and family and from difficult GP visits to emotional counselling sessions. It hasn’t been easy, but as time goes by I’ve learned how to live with my anxiety.

Back in 2015 my anxiety was extremely bad. There were days when I couldn’t leave the house or get on bus or speak to anyone or visit the city centre. I was crippled with an intense fear and waves of worry flooded my mind. There were days when I cancelled plans with my dearest friends, because I was too anxious to get out of my bed. There were days when I stood at my bus stop and let dozens of buses pass me by, because I was too anxious to move and go into the city. There were nights where I had to leave bars because I just couldn’t deal with the crowds. There have been days when I’d leave to go to college and then turn back home, because I couldn’t handle the bus journey or being with my classmates or delivering a presentation. There have been sleepless nights and panic attacks and constant tears.

Anxiety isn’t cute or trendy. It’s not about being shy or bashful. I can’t just ‘get over it’ or ‘be more confident’. It’s not about being too sensitive or too nervous. It’s a serious mental illness that many people fail to treat with respect or care.

I am learning to live with my anxiety disorder. I still have my bad days, but this year there have been more good days than bad. I still have panic attacks, I still suffer from sleep paralysis triggered by my anxiety, I still struggle to go into the city centre, I still find it hard to breathe, I still get intense heart palpitations. I still have days when my mind is full of worry and dread and unbearable negative thoughts.

There are so many people that dismiss anxiety. There are so many people who don’t take it seriously. There are so many people who believe it doesn’t matter. There are so many people who don’t treat it like a real illness.

“You’re just a bit shy.”

“You need to go out in the fresh air more.”

“There’s nothing wrong with you, you’re just being silly.”

“Stop looking for attention.”

“You’re just over-reacting.”

However, there are people who are making a difference by opening up and talking about mental health. When writing about depression in Reasons To Stay Alive, Matt Haig says “Depression is also smaller than you. Always, it is smaller than you, even when it feels vast. It operates within you, you do not operate within it. It may be a dark cloud passing across the sky, but- if that is the metaphor- you are the sky.

You were there before it. And the cloud can’t exist without the sky, but the sky can exist without the cloud.”

I remind myself of his words every single day. My anxiety isn’t in control of my life. My anxiety isn’t bigger than me. My anxiety isn’t more powerful. My anxiety isn’t going to win.

People will dismiss anxiety. People will mock you and belittle you and disrespect you when you speak about anxiety. People will tell you to ‘get over yourself’ or to ‘shake it off’. People will tell you that you’re being over the top or attention seeking, but you’re not.

This is my anxiety story and I will continue to fight against my disorder, and I will continue to talk about it, no matter how many people knock me down. Living with anxiety is an ongoing battle. It is a real disorder that needs to be taken seriously. We may live in a country where many people dismiss mental health, however, together we can change things by talking about anxiety in an open and honest way.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

-Margaret Mead

Sincerely Yours,

Kat

 

Hopes and Dreams for April

Happy April! Is it just me or is 2017 flying by at the speed of light? I’ve been spending the vast majority of my time working on my final year assignments, however April is my last month in college… forever, so it’s time to wave goodbye to Harvard Referencing and essay writing, and focus on myself this month.

So here are a few things that I’d like to do in April

1: Go on a solo theatre trip

I’ve been dreaming about visiting Smock Alley Theatre, which is one of my favourite places in Dublin. This month I’m going to pluck up the courage and go on a solo theatre trip during my Easter midterm. I fell in love with Smock Alley when I went to see Spring Awakening there in 2015, so another visit is well overdue.

2: Read more

I’ve handed up most of my assignments, which means I can finally read for fun again. I’ve set myself a target to read four books in April. I’m currently swooning over Rainbow Rowell’s novel Eleanor and Park, which is a set in the 1980’s. She sure knows the way to my heart.

3: Marathon Training

I’ll be taking part in the VHI Women’s Mini Marathon on behalf of the Make A Wish Foundation in June. The marathon is such an empowering and moving day and I cannot wait to take part again this year. However, I need to start training again and now that the evenings are brighter I can finally go on some sassy power walks. If you’d like to support the Make A Wish Foundation you can make a donation over on Kat’s Fundraising Page

4: Take Care of Myself

I took part in a mindfulness workshop in college and it made me realise that I haven’t been taking care of myself or my mind lately. The stress of my final year has had a bad impact on my mental health so I’m going to focus on taking better care of myself this month. I’m going to meditate a few times a week and possibly purchase one of those dreamy adult colouring books to help me unwind in the evenings.

Have you set any goals for this month? Tweet me @katkatkatt

Here’s to a month full of happy days and new adventures.

Sincerely Yours,

Kat

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

devonbeach
I wrote this short story over a year ago and decided to share it. I studied creative writing for a year and it’s one of my biggest passions. This piece is about letting go of the past and healing hearts.

I’m not sure what made me realise that today was the day. I knew it was time to let go. It was time to breathe again. All I knew was that I needed to get out and breathe. I needed to breathe in the crisp Spring air. Just breathe.

Today was the day, the special day. The day I washed the past away. I couldn’t wait to be standing on the cool sand at Flagstown Beach. Being cooked up in my navy blue Plymouth Valiant on a dull, dreary motorway was not what I needed. A wave of serenity washed over me as the wheels of my car turned off the harsh concrete of the motorway and onto the soft, dirt track towards Flagstown.

I parked in the car park of an old, abandoned chapel. As I walked through the church grounds I noticed small flowers growing along the walls; bursts of red, yellow and lilac popped out against the old, crumbling walls. I stepped on delicate daisies as I walked through the overgrown grass in my tattered burgundy boots. I smiled as I made my way to the gate. How sweet it is to know that those flowers still blossom and bloom even though their home stands alone and abandoned.

I left the chapel grounds and strolled down passed the red brick bungalows to the beach. It was the middle of the afternoon but there wasn’t a single soul in sight. There was an eerie yet calming feeling in the air. They say it’s the town where people come when they retire, a place where they come to live the rest of their days. They say it’s one of the most tranquil towns in the South and that’s why the elderly flock down here like birds that migrate to Africa before the winter chill takes over.

I felt my lungs fill up with fresh, soothing air as I stepped onto the pale sand. I untied the laces of my boots and placed them on a pile of rocks. I took the small glass bottle that I had been carrying around in my old navy rucksack for the past six months with me. A piece of faded white paper was rolled up inside the bottle; it’s edges were bent and battered. That piece of paper was the final piece of my past that I was ready to let go of. I poured my heart onto that piece of paper one late night in April of 2015; the year my heart was broken beyond repair. It holds so many memories, emotions, feelings and is stained with a tear or two. As I walked towards the waves I watched them ebb and flow. I watched the water dance slowly against the shore. I held the glass bottle in my hand, my message in a bottle. I was ready. It was time to let go. I stepped into the cool water and let it soak the ends of my jeans. I dropped the bottle out of my hand and into the sea. I watched the bottle float away taking my past and my heartache with it; slowly becoming smaller and smaller until I could see nothing but the grand, blue sea. I smiled out at the ocean; how big, how blue, how beautiful it was.