Some days my anxiety can be a pain and it makes me question what I do. But thankfully at the moment I’m having way more good days than bad, and usually it’s only for a short period of time and I’m able to carry on with my day. At the moment because of the whole pandemic, my anxiety has been in check, well, that is until we were allowed out and about. So when do you know when being anxious is due to your anxiety or it’s a typical butterfly in your stomach situation?
Going back to 2009 and the years before, I used to get butterflies when doing something new or unusual or just plain scary! It could be an exam, an interview or travelling somewhere new, whatever it was my stomach would be fluttering away as I sucked in my breath and got on with it. Once I completed my task or arrived at my destination I would feel calm again and relieved it was over or excited and happy as I enjoyed taking part in a new experience.
It was a natural response and although I never liked feeling that way, everyone I knew was the same. There was nothing unusual about it.
Then BOOM! Autumn 2009 happened and my life with anxiety began. It was a accumulation of things that all collided causing my mind to react in a natural way but to a non threatening situation! I’d moved away from home and all that I knew, got a new job, moved in with Scott, had to start again in so many ways. All of which were amazing positive steps which have taken me to the life I have now! I started getting cluster migraines and although I was happy, all the change was piling up on me and something had to give.
I remember sitting at my desk, getting into the swing of the morning and I was looking at a spreadsheet and all of a sudden I needed to move, I needed to run and I just needed to get out of there. It was an overwhelming wave that came over me, like I was in danger and my life was threatened. I had never felt like that before. I got up and went for a walk to the toilets to give myself a moment. Feeling jittery I went back to my seat and tried my best to get on with things. This happened a number of times.
But one day it was awful, I couldn’t concentrate, all the numbers and words on my spreadsheets were merging into one another, I didn’t know what to do or where to go. I got up and walked out into the corridor and up the stairs, I went to the bathroom and tried to breath, I was anxious and shaky and had no idea what to do. I was overwhelmed. But I gathered myself together, and walked back towards the stairs and as I did, a colleague was coming towards me, she clearly could see I wasn’t ok. She sat me down and talked to me, she was a pure gem! I explained how I felt and she suggested I speak with my doctor and told me to make sure I got an appointment that day. I did.
From that day, my anxiety affected everything! Going to the shops was awful I felt claustrophobic and trapped and anxious I wouldn’t get out, the same feelings would come when at the cinema or at the theatre. I kept thinking if I needed to leave, then l’d run and escape the danger my mind was perceiving.
After going to counselling and seeing a lovely lady who helped me understand what was happening as well as giving me a toolbox of coping mechanisms I was able to start getting back to living my life and not being afraid of my anxiety!
One thing I noticed though whilst moving forward, my butterflies have disappeared. I no longer have them. They have left. I now feel jittery when anxious and it’s difficult to know whether it’s a normal feeling or of it’s my anxiety rearing it’s head. It’s interesting how things have changed. Going out for lunch with a friend recently was great fun, but I did feel anxious. However, given the circumstances during this Covid time, it’s a normal reaction. Most people are feeling worried or anxious at present.
It’s odd to have lost that feeling of knowing if it’s right to feel that way and wonder if other people would have butterflies in the same situation. And truth be told, it isn’t wrong to feel that way. It is what it is. But it’s strange for me to have to think if I didn’t have anxiety would a situation be making me feel anxious or would I not give it a thought.
I do miss those butterflies as I always knew they would only be with me a short time, whilst my anxiety can now be with me for days at a time. The truth is, there is no right or wrong feeling in situations, you are the only one who knows what ‘normal’ anxiety or butterflies feels to you.
Anyway, I wanted to share my experience with you in case you’ve had a similar one or are maybe going through it at the moment. How does anxiety or nervousness appear to you?
Please, please don’t feel alone, I know it’s awful to go through, you feel a loss of control and have no idea what’s going on, your mind is acting like you are being chased and are in danger and is trying to save your life. It’s protecting you. Somewhere the lines got muddled and the perceived threat isn’t actually real. The key is we have to work it out and relearn what is and what isn’t a threat. But hang on in there, it will get easier to cope with and I do recommend speaking to someone who can help you. There is no shame in it.
Be kind to yourself and if anxiety is part of your life, the bad days will pass and the feeling will likely lessen over time. You are doing great, and will be OK, make sure you look after you!
Love Emma xx 🤩