I am sitting in a room. It’s not too big, most of the time it’s actually just the right size for me. It’s not a sterile room, there are no tall white walls and fluorescent lights. It’s not a threatening room. It’s actually a place where I usually feel quite safe. One one wall is a large window. It’s a little too high for me to see out of but it lets in lots of natural light. Opposite is a door. It’s usually slightly ajar so that I can see what’s outside. It’s never locked. I can leave this room whenever I want to.
I wasn’t put in this room. I created it myself. I placed every single brick with precision and built the walls. I don’t let others come in.
There are days where the sky outside is grey and miserable. Days were the sounds outside the door, the noises, the smells are just too overwhelming for me so I close the door for the day. I sit inside the room and I close myself off.
There are days where the sun is shining so brightly. It’s a day where I open the door wider and venture outside the room, happy and content. A day were I won’t feel completely overwhelmed or ashamed. I will tackle the day, it might be an adventure or it might be incredibly mundane but I will still leave the room.
Then there are days where the rain is pounding against the window so loud that no amount of shutting the curtains will drown it out. Where I have to sit in front of the door holding it shut because something is pounding on the other side, threatening to come into my safe place. Trying to break down my walls. Trying to ruin my room. Sometimes it just doesn’t stop and it continues for days and days.
On these days my skin hurts. My skin is too tight across my bones, my teeth ache and I am exhausted. I want to rest and just let go of the door, but I can’t because whatever is outside is just too much to deal with. It is all just too much for me, but I can’t stop because it will overwhelm me. It will lead me to fail. But I can’t fail because I have people that rely on me, but those people aren’t in my room, there outside the door, past the noise, past the pounding. I know they’re okay, I know that they’re safe from this but I can’t get to them. So I give up. I get angry at myself. I lash out because they can’t get to me either, because they don’t understand why I’m in this room. They can’t see this room because it’s not real.
I’m sitting in this room because I have anxiety.
I have the type of anxiety that sometimes makes me too scared to leave the house because of what other people will think of me when they look at me. My anxiety drives total paranoia and I literally can not get the horrible insults out of my mind. What makes it worse is that someone else’s thoughts aren’t my business and I completely understand that but these paranoid fueled thoughts that other people might or might not have stop me from leaving the house. Because if I can’t think positively of myself so why would anyone else? But honestly, the people out there, shopping, on their lunch break, running, driving past…well lets be honest I doubt very much they’re thinking about me. People are selfish thinkers, we think about what we need to do, where we need to go, what we’re having for dinner…and I know this because that’s how I think when I do actually have the courage to leave the house and get out there and do what I have to do.
It is a never ending vicious circle really.
Things are better now. I have more of the sunny days than any of the others. I’ve grown up and for the most part I don’t really care what other people think of me. I don’t seek approval of others. I speak my mind, I do what I want, I work really hard to remove the negativity from my life that holds me back but I still have anxiety. My anxiety hasn’t gone anywhere. I’ve just got better at dealing with it. It is a daily battle to keep it under control.
Large crowds still completely overwhelm me and make me feel absolutely sick to my stomach. Catching someone’s eye in the street makes me put my head down and walk forward faster with my clammy hands. Meeting and speaking with people I don’t know terrifies me but I’ve done those things in the last twelve months. I’ve got trains and tubes on my own to London and back without worrying. I’ve spoke to people I’ve not met before and really enjoyed their company. I haven’t embarrassed myself or made a fool out of myself too much. I have battled with my anxiety and I’m not going to let it win.