Catherine provides a young voice and a touching account as our wonderful guest author for Day 4 of this week long series. She is courageous in sharing her story and I found when reading this account, whilst preparing it for publication, a number of thoughts and emotions. I felt incredible compassion but also a sense of hope – that with the determination Catherine holds, she will continue to grow trust in the world.
Hey, so I’m Catherine, 21 years old and I suffer with anxiety, depression and bits of other mental health issues! I’m going to chat away about my anxiety, just how it affects me in every area of my life. Anxiety, something that we ALL experience at some point; before a first date, before a job interview etc. But someone like me who has anxiety, experiences that 24/7.
Below, I’ve talked all about how anxiety affects many areas of my life and hopefully this gives you some insight into something that many people may not understand.
My anxiety started at a very young age; it was “official” at age 12, but I’m pretty sure I had anxiety since I was born, basically. Anxiety has a long standing history in my family, but that hasn’t made it any easier!
The person it has affected the most would be my brother, because it affected my school life and I often refused to go; it made for a lot of early morning rows with my mum. My brother, who is younger saw a lot of this and to this day still brings it up. My Mum has always been my rock, she’s a very stable person and is always there to listen to me. She has her moments but all-in-all she is always there for me and there is no way I’d be here without her.
Finally (I’m only talking about my family I live with or I’d be here forever) my dad. He’s affected, but we are not massively close so I can’t honestly say how he’s affected. I think basically my family have been massively affected because a part of my anxiety is if I feel too nervous, I run. It means I’ve bailed on a lot of things so trust is thin on the ground!
It’s also affected money situations. I can’t work at the moment due to my mental health and I also have debt that I am lucky enough my parents are paying off. This obviously puts a strain on my parents money as they are supporting me again.
As my anxiety came to light while I was in school, I basically lost every friend I had and I didn’t gain any until I was 15/16.
Children/young teens don’t always understand mental health problems, and so they can often be mean as they don’t understand and don’t know how to react about it.
When I was 17 I got my first job, so I then lost most friends all over again! I gained some via my job but since then I basically don’t really have friends. The few I do have now are amazing; they are very supportive and always understanding! I’m not very social, I don’t go out or anything like that, most of my friends have been made via the internet.
I’m a big believer in that if your friends don’t stay with you in your worst moments, they don’t deserve you in your best.
For me, as my school life was so massively affected I didn’t have any love interests in school; I had zero love life until I was 19. When I was 19, I felt in a really good place so I joined a dating site; I did this as I was in a good place but I wasn’t a very socially out there person.
I had 2 dates when I was 19, but when I hit my 20th year I started struggling again, and I had problems. I would talk to a guy online, really like them, arrange to meet then bail when I got too nervous. This has happened many times and nowadays I basically don’t have a love life! I’m fed up ending up hurting myself and the guy in question.
In the future, of course, I want my love life back! But I’m not hurting anybody else any more for now.
Obviously, anxiety does affect the person who suffers with it! For me, not being too dramatic – but its ruined my life, quite simply – in various ways:
- I don’t have a love life. I’m 22 this year and all I’ve ever wanted is to get married and have children, but I don’t see it happening any time soon.
- I’m not very independent. I can’t leave the house by myself very easily. I need other people with me (normally my mum) when I’m not at the house. I do not feel like a 21 year old!
- I have no social life. I do sometimes feel like I’ve experienced nothing of what I would have liked to by my age!
- I don’t work at the moment.
- I don’t do what I want to.
- I don’t have the life I want. I know many people would say “Well, go get it then!” but it doesn’t work like that! When stepping out into the back garden gives me the shakes, I can’t have the life I want!
Basically, anxiety is a horrible thing. I’ve had many things for it, CBT, meds, therapy you name it! I haven’t found much that works. I still take meds and I use CBT sometimes but basically its a never-ending fight, but I’ll get there!
If you know someone with anxiety, please be there for them. Its a lot harder than many people think, to cope with anxiety, but having supportive people around you makes a lot of difference.