Tara got in touch with us a little while ago and wanted to share her story of overcoming anxiety. We think she is very brave and strong and tells her story beautifully. So Tara, take it away…
Oddly enough, buses are one of the things that truly remind me how far I have come. I will hop on a bus, chat away to the bus driver, stroll down to a seat, sit down, and pop my headphones in for a nice relaxing journey. It is at this point that I will normally remember what a bus journey used to mean for me. I wouldn’t sleep properly knowing I had to get a bus the following day. I would leave for it as early as possible so that I wouldn’t be late. I would practice what I was going to say to the bus driver over and over again. I would sweat and be short of breath the entire journey. I would panic about where to sit. I would put my headphones in but not play any music so that I could keep my head down but still be alert. I would think about having to press the ‘stop’ button the entire way. I would imagine that everyone behind me was staring at me. I would dread having to get up and walk down the bus to get off. Essentially, I would spend the entire journey consumed with anxiety about every aspect of the experience. It was so bad at one point that I would walk 50 minutes to work, and 50 minutes home, no matter what the weather was like, just to avoid going through that. This was just one of the many ways that anxiety was consuming my everyday life.
The thing is, I have no idea when this all changed for me. I know now that I don’t think twice about hopping on a bus, in fact, I actually have learned to enjoy it. However, in my mind, there is no specific time that that change took place. You see, there is no “eureka moment”. There is no point in your life where you go asleep depressed or anxious or dealing with any number of problems and you wake up the next day only to discover they have completely melted away to nothing. That might sound disheartening. When you are in the midst of any struggle you just want nothing more than for it to go away. To disappear and never resurface again. So, hearing that it doesn’t just fix itself overnight, can feel like a huge letdown.
However, this is great news. What this means is, right now, you are on the road to recovery. Every day is a win. Every day is one step closer to overcoming anxiety or whatever it is you are going through. It won’t feel like it. I think back to the many times I got the bus and felt no change in the level of anxiety I was feeling. But each time was chipping off another layer, whether I was aware or not. Hindsight is the only reason I know this; in the moment I know that I felt like I would never get through it and it would never change. This might be how you feel right now. Like things aren’t getting any better and you haven’t seen any improvement. Let me make myself clear, as long as you are breathing and getting through each day whatever way you need to, you are making huge progress. You are, right now, as you read these words, growing, and changing as a person. It is a slow process, and I know that can be incredibly frustrating. It really can feel never-ending. However, slowly but surely, things will get easier. You won’t necessarily even notice it. You will just start to adjust as things get easier and it will integrate into your life. Until one day you will catch yourself doing something that you never thought in a million years you would be able to do.
Some days will feel like you take huge strides forward. Maybe you will work through something in counselling that makes everything feel clearer, celebrate these wins. Some days you will feel stuck, like nothing has changed at all, practice being kind to yourself and acknowledge you are making progress, even if it doesn’t feel that way. Other days will feel like you are going backward, just getting through the day and trusting that you won’t always feel this way is your win on these days.
No matter what you are going through, you are overcoming something, as long as you keep going you are adding pages to your story. And one day, you will realise you are in a whole new wonderful chapter.
Remember, the most amazing, compassionate, successful, and inspiring people we know are those who faced challenges, and managed to overcome them.
Hang in there, it will pass x
SPUN OUT: This is a one-stop shop for all mental health issues. The articles are very matter of fact, helpful and all bases are covered.
SAMARITANS: This helpline is open 24 hours a day and completely confidential. Call 116 123.
CHILDLINE: Helpline and online support, offering advice and support to young people under 18.
TURN2ME: Support for anyone feeling anxious, sad, or lonely.
YOURMENTALHEALTH: Lots of information about Mental Health in Ireland.