“What have YOU got to be anxious about?”
New Life Gym – Wellness and Fitness Diary By Stephy
Please note this entry may contain triggers as it covers self harm, depression and anxiety.
“Yeah, but what’s worrying you?” – If I burned 10 calories for every time I’ve heard that then I wouldn’t be here at New Life… People never say this to be mean or malicious; they just genuinely believe that anxiety must be caused by an underlying worry or concern… I, along with most of those dealing with anxiety, wish this was the case.
Anxiety and Self Harm.
I’ve lived with anxiety for about 6 years or so; it’s difficult to say exactly when it “started”. Perhaps it’s been there my whole life (who knows?) but we’ll say 6 years because that’s when it started to really have an impact on my life. It started with the little things; I would cancel on friends an awful lot because pubs and clubs made me feel a little uncomfortable. I would sit at the back of lecture halls at University because having people sit behind me gave me the creeps. More and more I would stop doing the things that had previously made me happy. I just put it down to growing up and perhaps becoming more “responsible” (I’m almost 100% positive that’s not the case now). It wasn’t until I left University that I started to really notice the huge impact it was having on my life. I rarely left the house other than to go to work and spent little time with my family or friends. Instead, I would hide in my room – I felt safe there – and watch boxset after boxset. I would kid myself and say that it was bliss having a cosy weekend with lots of snacks but deep down I really just wanted to go out and have fun. Up until that point I hadn’t experienced much of the physical symptoms of anxiety but shortly after my 22 birthday I was cursed with the dreaded panic attack. I didn’t really understand what was happening to me, the sickness, shortness of breath, waking up with pyjamas soaked through with sweat, that inability to calm down and just “sit at peace”. All I knew was that it was the most awful feeling I have ever experienced in my entire life. I spent hours every night searching the internet for a diagnosis or for a cure. I started self-harming because that helped stop the intrusive thinking that so often comes hand in hand with anxiety. This became an awful habit and although it stopped the intrusive thoughts for a short while it had and still does have a lasting impact on my self-confidence. Never much of a private person before, I now kept how I was feeling to myself and just hid at home. It wasn’t until one of my colleagues suffered from a panic attack and explained the symptoms to me that I realised what I was dealing with. I quickly made an appointment with my GP (what I should have done to begin with – GOOGLE is great but it’s not a Dr). Finally, I got the help I needed – medication, CBT and most importantly NO JUDGEMENT. I was then able to do the most amazing and helpful thing in my recovery… tell my mum and dad. They were so supportive and made sure I did everything possible to help myself get better.
Thankfully, self harming was short lived and I moved on to more productive ways to stop the intrusive thinking I was experiencing… BAKING, now part of the reason I have to go to the gym but it really helped calm me down at the time. With the help I received from my Dr, family and friends I slowly began to get more confident and start doing things I hadn’t done in years. I fell in love with volunteering, I started doing really well at work, I travelled (a little – I still have MAJOR travel anxiety), I bought a house, met a wonderful new boyfriend and adopted a cat (she’s totally sassy but we love her).
Road to Recovery....
Last summer I had just moved in to my first flat and received the fantastic news that I got a new job. I couldn’t have been happier, I had achieved so much in the past couple of years and I was really proud of myself. I fully expected the stress of moving house and jobs to trigger panic attacks but surprisingly the anxiety never came… I was lured in to a false sense of security. I WAS CURED – YAY!
That didn’t last long. I started noticing a few of my old habits creeping back. I was once again making excuses for not wanting to go out but I was lucky, winter was fast approaching and that’s an anxiety sufferer’s best friend. When the weather is awful we can easily use that as an excuse, people understand “wanting to be cosy” a lot better than “too many people turn me in to a human sized ball of anxiety”. More and more I could see my anxiety starting to creep back in to different areas of my life but something was different. I was different, this time I wouldn’t stand for it. I pushed myself to do the things that made me uncomfortable. I was so determined to not go back to who I was before that I forgot the most important thing; there’s so much help out there. I visited my Dr who put me back on medication and I started exploring Mindfulness and that’s how I became involved with New Life Gym. Jill and I have been friends for a long time; we have had similar experiences with mental illness and have ALWAYS been there to support each other. I have wanted to get fit for some time and tried other gyms but I have always been too uncomfortable to go back after the first month (I am also pretty lazy!). So it is with Jill that I will start my fitness and wellness journey hoping to become as physically and mentally healthy as a self-confessed chocaholic can be.
I visited the New Life Gym last night for the first time. I will admit I was absolutely terrified! Wee wimpy Stephy on her way to a MMA gym, I even had a mini panic attack on my walk up. I was nervous at first but luckily there was a kids class on at the time so I quickly calmed down. By the time the mixed adult’s class was on a little later I felt so comfortable and I just couldn’t wait to get on the mats and get training. I have my first PT class on Friday morning and I will let you all know how I get on. I don’t think Jill has to be worried about her new sparring partner doing any sort of damage… for now (hehe!)
Wish me luck!