If anxiety feels to you like having fallen down a deep hole with no-one to save you… you will want to read this.
When I struggled with anxiety, which was all the time until my late twenties, it felt like nobody could hear me, it was like my voice was muffled. As a young woman, inside I was calling out for help, for someone to come and save me but no-one did, not for a long time.
It was as if I had fallen down a deep hole, looking upwards to the light and wondering how to get out. No rope, no ladder and I had no clue.”
In all that time I felt so isolated and alone.
Even though I had friends and family around me, it was like no-one really got it.
I felt like a freak most of the time.
Before long I had become afraid of feeling afraid; afraid of who I was… afraid to do anything, afraid of who I might be. Most of the time, I could pretend but really, I was so caught up in my head, so aware all the time of my heart pounding, and my hands sweating. I didn’t have time or energy to focus on who I actually was or how every day I was changing and shrinking a bit more within myself, deeper into a hole. When I spoke my mouth would get so dry that my top lip would stick to my gums. And then I’d be even more self-conscious that people weren’t just looking at my spots or my flat chest, I worried that I looked like some caricature with my teeth protruding.
But you know what? After a while, there’s a kind of irony, in that the hole begins to feel like home, quite familiar and oddly comfortable. Acceptance I’d say they call it.
When Anxiety Gets Too Much
A young woman who came for help recently described herself as being stuck down a hole and there that was no-one who could get her out.
She told me that anxiety had taken over her.
She confided that she didn’t know who she was anymore.
Tears fell when I told her how wonderfully her dad had described her to me. She didn’t recognize her qualities and her personality in the girl she used to be before anxiety got a grip. ‘I’m not that girl anymore.’ She sobbed. She had told herself that there wasn’t anything she could do, but give in. She even owned it – but I guess you’d never do that, would you?
‘My anxiety is too much,’ she said.”
‘Nothing and no-one can help me,’ she was convincing herself even as she said it to me.
She confessed that her only option was to be defensive and to come across as slightly arrogant, as she tried hard to seem in control. She admitted that she would act the fool amongst her friends so that she might hide how she was really feeling, and so that she could protect herself from becoming vulnerable and bringing the conversations down.
Who Can You Talk To?
I asked her who she talked to?
She said, “no-one”. Her parents were busy with their problems, her teachers seemed to judge her or didn’t have time for her, and her friends honestly were just drifting, as she was. She was in that hole and she was resigned to making it her home. I remember how that felt for me.
I told her my story.
She asked ‘did you find your way back to who you were before anxiety took over you?’
‘No, I didn’t, I answered. I told her that the journey to overcome it, to climb out of the hole meant that I had grown beyond who I ever expected I could be.
But here’s the thing…
When you are in a hole and you can’t get out yourself, you only get a chance to out of that hole if you reach out and grab the arm of the person who is winching their way down to save you. It can be scary trusting someone not to drop you as they lift you out carefully, but it is scarier to trust in yourself that you can hold on to the lifeline you’re offered, as you find your way back up.
Reach Out to Safety
The right someone who is experienced at climbing down holes will be able to help you to rescue yourself. Notice that I’ve said ‘rescue yourself!’ It takes YOU to reach out and grab their hand so that they may help you up to safety.
If you believe ‘nothing and no-one can help you’, you’re right! That can’t happen until you are ready to help yourself and reach out to accept the help you are offered.
If you’re ready, come and find me. I’ll be ready with my winch 😉
If you’d like to know more about how to feel better within yourself, AND get the help you need, my book ‘@anxiety we need to break up’ will get you off to a great start. It’s a fast track guide for young women just like you.
Order your copy today and take my hand for safety.