You're standing on the edge. Any minute you can drop into a pit of sadness and fear. Sometimes you have no idea what put you there and sometimes the smallest of things has done it. You're totally out of control with what's going on in your head and the rational side of you knows it's going to pass but it's way back behind that big dark cloud. You feel guilty for putting this on those close to you over and over again so you end up sat alone on your bed (or on a bench in the street, or in front of a carriage of strangers on the tube...) in tears waiting for it to pass.
I've struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. I'm outgoing, sociable and I like to think I try and find the best in every situation, but sometime I've totally overcome by this awful feeling I can't control and can't get rid of. One of the worst times was when I was about 14 at boarding school not long after 9/11. I was sure that the world was going to end and I spent night after night in tears, having panic attacks and feeling totally out of control. My uncle called me one day after my mum had rallied the family round to try and help me. He told me that even if it was going to happen there was nothing I could do about it and we'd all be in the same boat. That sense of not being alone with this (very irrational!) outcome I had envisaged actually helped...I think that loneliness really sums up my own experiences with anxiety but it's different for everyone.
This has happened on and off for as long as I can remember but there is an element of it that affects my day to day life and relationships a lot, and was one of my friends' biggest worries for me going on Married at First Sight. Having anxiety sometimes means thinking the worst of everything. It's seeing a missed call and wondering what you've done wrong rather than thinking someone wants a catch up. It's getting a meeting request at work and thinking you're getting a warning rather than praise (or most of the time, just a catch up or a new assignment). When I wasn't J's plus one at his friend's birthday last weekend I immediately assumed it was because he was ashamed of me (not because we've been dating for 2 months and he probably just hadn't considered it properly). My mind went immediately to the worst possible scenario, without having even spoken to him. And you know what happened when I did speak to him? I'd worked myself up for nothing and completely misinterpreted the situation. When I asked if he was ashamed of me I got a message back:
J: "Of course not! Stop being self conscious."
Me: "I'm probably just being sensitive."
J: "No need to be. You'll be at the next one."
It's the unknown that I can never really help and sometimes totally cripples me. When Married at First Sight was about to air, I used to work myself up so much before going outside because I didn't know what the public reaction would be, or if the press would be waiting outside my house or place of work, as I had been warned might happen.
I don't think my anxiety is ever going to totally go away but I'm gradually learning to deal with it more by being honest with myself and l talking more openly with those around me. I'm trying to stop the negativity seeping into every aspect of my life because, really, who wants to be around someone who is constantly looking at the worst case scenario. Perhaps baring my soul on a tv show wasn't the smartest idea I've made but I'm refusing to let it be another negative in my life and drawing every possible positive that I can.
If you need help with mental health, contact Mind on 0300 123 3393