I wanted to chat about the past year and how this has affected my anxiety. I suffer from social anxiety so I’m not going to lie, the last year has been good for me, not having to deal with crowds, not having to go to places where lots of people will be, not going on a train which is really triggering of my anxiety.
I like my own company and my own world, so for me, I haven’t felt like I was missing out on anything – apart from seeing my family and friends when I wanted and going on holiday! But I’m lucky, I have a house with a garden so the space is good for the two of us, we aren’t hemmed in or have felt claustrophobic during the time we’ve been in lockdown.
I am looking forward to catching up with people again, but it’s going to take time, I’m wary, as I think many people are, to jump straight back into it all. But we will get there and thankfully we are doing it in stages.
My world before COVID was a quiet one, I caught up with friends as and when, I didn’t go out much except to a pub/restaurant for lunch/dinner and drinks. It was a peaceful time. I lived in my own wee world with my husband and our cat and we enjoyed it. We make arrangements to catch up with our friends or family and we do it. But I was and still am not the kind of person who fills up her diary. I like to know I have time for me to do what I want. I’m living a lovely life and I don’t want it to be too crowded.
My friends, I love them dearly and will catch up with them when I can, but it will be spaced out, I can’t do it all together or in a few weekends. Spending quality time with my friends is important to me.
Now, It’s hard to say but the thought of going out for meals with people and sitting in a noisy crowded restaurant really does make my anxiety start to rise. I know it will all be perfectly planned and no one will be sitting jammed up against the next table like we were before, but I am still wary. And the thing is, I’m not worried about the COVID aspect of it, that’s not what is making me anxious, it’s having to get back out of my bubble and into the reality again, pushing myself to do something I really do want to do, but it is difficult to feel comfortable doing.
My anxiety will be ticking through my head saying ‘make sure you know where the exits are’ or ‘why did we have to come here’ or the most popular one is ‘just run, just run and leave and go back to the comfort of your home’. I want people to be aware, that I am not saying I don’t want to be there with them as I do, but I have to work hard to make my mind see it the same way. Usually, once I am settled and have ordered then my mind quietens for a bit and I can then relax into the flow of fun conversations. This is what is happening to me in a normal situation, but having not been out very often over the past year, then I will almost be starting from scratch.
If you, like me suffer from social anxiety and the thought of going out and about again, going to pubs and restaurants, the cinema/theatre or even to the shops again is making you worry. Then take a moment to yourself, have a think about how you coped before, can you employ these methods again? Speak to your friends and family if you are feeling uncomfortable about being in a situation, tell them you need a moment or talk about whats going through your mind. I am quite bad at sharing how I’m feeling when my anxiety kicks in. I try to ride through the storm that’s going on in my mind and usually after a while, it eases and I can enjoy what I went out to do. It may be later that day, a few days or in a few weeks.when I say (usually to Scott) that I was really struggling and wanted to run. He is usually surprised as it doesn’t show.
I know, for me, I am trying to calm my mind, make it see the situation is safe and there is no need to worry and I do try to act normal. I focus on one thing, like how my food tastes, what flavours are there, or I tell myself just have one more mouthful and then we can go….but I stay and do my best to enjoy my meal. And I do.
All this time spent away from being out and about, it will take time to get back into the rhythm of it all again. We need not put pressure on ourselves to jump in with two feet and be doing all the normal things we did, particularly if you are not feeling it! Allow yourself time and don’t feel pressure from others to do so, your friends or family may not even realise how hard it can be for you to do something as simple as go out for a meal, let alone anything else. Tell them if you feel you can.
Anxiety to me is silent, it rises up at times when I want to do something great, trying to keep me in my own safe bubble, but pushing out of it, by doing the things I love, helps me, I don’t want to let it win, so each uncomfortable step forward for me is a win. I am strong, you are strong, anxiety wants to keep us safe so is trying to protect us and you have to admire it for that.
To all those that suffer from anxiety, stay strong and please be kind to yourself, go at your own pace and do what you want to do, when you want to do it.
Thanks for reading, have a lovely week and look after you.
Love Emma xx
For the month of May I am taking part in Take Action, Get Active for Mental Health Awareness Week 10th – 16th May, for the Mental Health Foundation to raise awareness for mental health. This years theme is nature, so I’ll be walking and/or running outside for 60 minutes a day. I encourage you all to go outside and spend some time walking or cycling or whatever you wish and enjoy being out in the fresh air connecting with nature.