I've always struggled with a small form of anxiety. Some folks have scoffed when I've confided in them because I'm always chatty. I'm a great hostess. I'm the life of the party - but mostly I talk so no one can ask me questions. I talk so people will like me. I talk so I'm not a burden to entertain. I talk to drown out my inside thoughts.
For years I dealt with it well...or so I thought. But then seemingly overnight I was done with seeing everyone. I was done with going outside. Weight crept up and sadness dug deeper even when life looked like it was going so well. I had met the love of my life, and marriage was on the cards and oh how exciting a wedding can be, right? Except it made me miss my mum so much, and it made me hate my body more, and the people pleaser in me wanted to throw the best party so everyone else would be happy, which left me crying in the reception cloakroom before midnight on our wedding day because it was nearly over, and I was so glad because I was exhausted in every way.
Work worries were hovering always. Since moving back to Northern Ireland, writing gigs haven't been constant. I didn't speak to anyone about the thoughts I was having at 2am. I couldn't sleep. I kept getting sick. I wanted to fix everything on my own, but one night as my husband lay next to me sleeping soundly, I was lying looking at the ceiling thinking, "He'd be better off if I was dead. Everyone would".
That thought scared me, but didn't leave. It was dark and it lingered. I remember moments of telling myself how stupid I was being, how heartbroken my family would be. But just as quickly I would remind myself of how much of a drain I was to them. How I sucked the life out of people. What worth to the world was I?
I didn't know my fear storage was at breaking point, but on one unremarkable evening while discussing what film we should watch as I sat in my sister's house, I just cry/screamed everything out to her without warning, which led to spilling out all the noise within, and to lots of hugging and further talking. Soon after over some nonsense conversation I blurted everything out to my husband. I cried and he did the best thing - he listened. He didn't try to fix it or tell me I was silly, he simply sat and took what my sorrow was telling him. Once I'd voiced the concerns that had crushed my soul, I listened to him and I vowed to not keep any secrets - to talk to him and to my family about what worried me, and how I could go about changing things for the better. Letting them into my deepest darkest fears, not always being the clown or the cheerleader, has allowed those thoughts to die - they're gone. And I'm still here.
I know how lucky I am to have amazing humans who I can trust wholeheartedly. I've never written or spoken so publicly about my past issues, and I'm sure it'll be a bit of a shock. I feel no shame for having to stop and rethink how I deal with pressures. For me, decades of holding it all in was putting me in harm's way, and I'm astonished what honest communication has done. I'm taking down the metaphorical blocks I spent too long building, and it's truly freeing.
Life is a constantly changing journey, and the best thing you can do is understand yourself. If you're feeling like you're not worth a damn, think again. You are so very important. There is no reason to feel like you're wading through thick mud every day. If you're lost there is someone out there who can help you find your way - open up. Please see a doctor if you feel you need professional help - many many folks have had their lives given back to them once they've spoken to a therapist or gotten on a proper medical track. Or if you're feeling so alone, you don't know who to talk to, then write to me and I'll grab hold of you so hard - we can do it together.