For almost a year, I have lived with a severe anxiety disorder and I don’t think people truly understand how challenging that can be. My anxiety affects everything; from the moment I wake up to when I fall asleep I am battling my anxious thoughts. I wanted to share how a typical day for me is, as an attempt to provide a deeper understanding of this disorder. And to anyone out there who lives with this illness – you are doing amazing!
Each days come with their own challenges but as I’m at University and this is my most common type of day, I’ll detail a weekday. However, my anxiety can sometimes be more extreme depending on what’s going on in my life and sometimes if I’m spending the day in my house I can be a lot calmer.
The day begins with breakfast, which is something that I have to force myself to eat every single day. I have three digestive biscuits and tea, which isn’t your standard breakfast but it is better than nothing. Ever since I was hospitalised I eat breakfast in order to prevent anything like that happening again. Then I’ll take my medications, and if I’m feeling particularly nauseas, I’ll take them later on so I don’t throw them back up and lose their effect. I’ll also take diazepam if I’m very anxious, or as a preventative measure, if I know that I have something stressful on that day. I get dressed – I only wear tops that have a low neck line because otherwise I feel suffocated. As the weather is cold right now, I wear a lot of layers to make up for me wearing a vest top; having layers allows me to cool down by taking them off if I begin to panic and overheat.
After I’m ready, I will check that I have everything I could possibly need for the day; a few reliever inhalers in case one fails to work; a lot of water; gum to distract myself with; a hair tie in case I get too warm and diazepam. I get a lift into town from one of my amazing friends or family members (I am so grateful that they sacrifice their time as they know I cannot get public transport). Then I will walk to wherever I need to be on campus – I hate walking alone in town, as I am scared that I collapse again, but I force myself to face my fears. And when I see my friends, my anxiety normally subsides (just a little).
I normally get through the workshops and lectures at uni feeling fine, albeit with a lot of breaks mid class to compose myself and calm down. Furthermore, I will eat some snacks to keep my blood sugar up as I don’t want to risk my health and I’ll continue to feel anxious when I have to walk to the next class, even if I’m with my friends. For me, everything looks so bright and unreal which probably sounds ridiculous but it is terrifying. Sometimes I feel like I am on a different planet, as no one else seems to be overwhelmed by the chaos of the crowds in the city centre. But I keep going, I make it to my next lecture to take notes and at the end of the day, I get a lift home and return to my house exhausted.
As my timetable for uni is quite intense, I am normally in university from 9-5 and after that I am supposed to study, attend placements and complete preparation for my classes. But as a side effect from my antidepressants is drowsiness, I normally have to nap or go to bed early as I can’t concentrate – or occasionally keep my eyes open. Before becoming unwell, I could never get to sleep and would stay up late but now I am asleep as soon as the light goes off.
That is my life – five days a week. On a Saturday I work all day and on a Sunday I either desperately try to catch up on everything or have a day of self-care (as it’s often needed).
Living with anxiety is a huge challenge for me. It can be debilitating. It can make you feel weak. It can make you feel powerless and fed up. But I do it nevertheless. I have faced my anxiety everyday for around 10 months – it feels like such a long time that I cannot remember what life was like without it. To be able to run out the door and just drive somewhere and do anything seems impossible now – but it is a goal. If you wonder why someone with mental health issues constantly talks about them, it is because it is permanently on their mind.
But living with anxiety can be done – I prove that every single day. And you can recover from anxiety – I just don’t have time to dedicate to my recovery right now. You may want to give up, to hide away or just cry, but you can handle it! Even although, I am not “recovered” I have made a lot of progress with my anxiety. I am no longer house-bound and I work alongside studying full-time; it’s no easy task but I somehow manage. Progress and recovery are both very different but hopefully I’ll reach the latter soon. I hope this has provided some insight into what it is like to live with anxiety and how difficult it can be to deal with. For anyone suffering, I am immensely proud of you and with hope and hard work you will make it.