This week’s Blog Tag- Mental Health- is one close to my heart.
Anxiety…stress…depression… All different sides of the same tarnished coin. It’s an issue most of us just don’t feel comfortable talking about, but it’s not something we can ignore.
I think it can be difficult for those that don’t have these problems to understand the gravity of the situation. It’s easy to say ‘oh, just cheer up will you!’… But that’s not helping, if anything it makes us worse.
Today I want to talk triggers- those little (or big) things which can trigger feelings of anxiousness and stress. More specifically, I want to talk about MY triggers. I want to share this with you all so that any of you out there feeling the same as me don’t feel alone. You’re not alone.
1.Crowds and Strangers
I feel like this is probably one of the more common triggers for those of us suffering with anxiety. The thought of being around a big group of people and having to talk is enough to make us want to curl up in a ball and hibernate forever. For me, this started when I started high school. I attended a tiny primary school, with only 12 people in my class. We were all close friends and we had a great bond. Only problem was, I was the only one to pass our 11+, meaning I was enrolled into our local grammar school alone, with no friendly faces.
My first day was terrifying, and up until this point in my life I had been a confident person, but that changed as soon as I met the 120 pupils who also attended my year group. I think there was a feeling of isolation there which i had never experienced before, and this made my life really difficult. I was too nervous to talk to people and make friends, meaning that in that few few months of school where most friend groups are made, I hadn’t made much progress at all. I had a few friends- non of which shared my classes.
The whole thing developed from there really, and the longer I left it, the harder it was. And by the time I left high school I had a small number of friends and an anxious disposition.
Starting work in retail at 18 and beginning university in the same year, it was a big shocker for me. Having to interact with a completely new set of people sent me into meltdown mentally. Physically I was attending my lectures and work, but mentally my stress was going into overdrive. Because of this, when I finally hit second and third year, my energy was drained and I had a lot of problems. You can read more about how I overcame this here: Deciding to be Happy
Public places always make me nervous, but not many more than self-serve restaurants and buffets. I feel like a rabbit in front of headlights when I think about having to get up and find my own food, drink or even just to pick up a sauce. It’s petty I know, but if I know i’m going to be going to somewhere like Nandos for instance (where you have to go and pick your cutlery, sauces and drinks) I get nervous.
For days it will be in the back of my mind, knowing that I’m going to have to stand up in front loads of people and find my way to the condiments. I think what triggers me the most, is visions in my head of me knocking into chairs or tables, or not being able to find the drinks machine and drawing attention to myself by walking back the other way. God, even writing this is making me feel anxious.
And when the time finally comes and I’m sitting at the table, knowing I need to get up and walk around, I have to watch other people first and plan which path will get me noticed the least. I know in my logical mind that no one will even take a second glance, but that doesn’t stop that devil on my shoulder telling me to stand up straight, keep my head down and not to make a fool out of myself.
So, of course, most of the time this is all going on in my mind before I even grasp the courage to get out of my seat. It’s an trigger that I know is silly, but I just can’t seem to shake it.
You know when you’re waiting in the queue at the checkout in a shop and there’s that one annoying person who is routing through their bag because they haven’t got any money ready? That’s my worst nightmare when it comes to shopping.
My anxiety with shopping stems from the worry of inconveniencing people. I have to be prepared well in advance, even to the point of having my card ready in my open purse (in my handbag) at the perfect angle for me to reach it as I get to the till. And I don’t do this while I’m stood in the queue, I usually do this on my way to the shop, you know, just in case. Of course it’s ridiculous, and I’m sitting here shaking my head at how this sounds. But this is a real issue for me. I always have to have things done ahead of time, because I can’t stand the thought of anyone being inconvenienced by me. I can’t help it.
4.Walking down the Street
This is the most frequent of my triggers, as I have to do this every day. It sounds silly, how can walking down the street cause anxiety?
Again, it’s that overwhelming thought that people are watching me, judging me. Even when I’m walking down the road. I only ever get this anxiety when I’m on my own, but I get it pretty bad.
I’m always thankful when it’s sunny outside because I can wear my sunglasses and kind of hide. But it’s too easy to be conscious of the way you walk, where to look etc… and I have on occasion lost my footing because I was paying too much attention to walking in a straight line.
That’s it for my main triggers, there are more but none as extreme as these.What I really want to get across, is we all have our pitfalls and worries. We all have times where we just don’t want to face the day, or we get anxious over silly things. But we are only human, after all. We are all unique and beautiful in our own way.