Ever have one of those days when everything seems to be slipping out of your fingertips?
Ever looked in the mirror and not recognised the person looking back at you?
Sometimes that can be a good thing. If you’ve been dieting or exercising and then one day you look at yourself and you see those changes that you’ve been striving for.
But sometimes it’s as scary as hell.
In the last twelve days I’ve only left my house four times. I haven’t been able to work, I can’t go to the shops, I can’t drive or go to the gym. I can barely get out of bed.
Am I sick? No, I’m fine.
Okay, not so fine. But I’m not sick, I don’t have an injury or an ailment. Twelve days ago I had one of the worst anxiety attacks that I’ve had in two years, and now everything has changed.
I’m not a stranger to anxiety or depression, I’ve lived with it most of my life, but two years ago something happened to exacerbate it to the point that I could no longer ignore it, could no longer sweep it under the rug and pretend it wasn’t there. So I started seeing a psychologist and things were getting better…good even.
And then twelve days ago happened.
Just thinking about it brings the symptoms back. Since that day I’ve had numerous smaller attacks and just the thought of leaving my house is enough to bring one on.
I used to joke that I could quite happily become a hermit, now that it’s a possibility, it’s not so funny anymore. The fact that I welcome it is even more of a worry.
Being a shut-in is appealing. Never having to leave my house, not having to face the world outside, it sounds like paradise. Maybe that’s just the anxiety talking, or the introvert, either way, I like the sound of it.
I’m not saying I want to be that way forever…just for, you know, a while…just until I feel better…just until the anxiety isn’t so bad…just until…
That’s how it starts. Little by little it creeps into your life and before you know it, even if you want to go outside, you can’t. I can see the future of my life if I give in to this need to withdraw from my life. But it doesn’t make it any easier to face it. And forcing me to go outside brings on an attack that is likely to set me back yet again.
When I look in the mirror, I don’t recognise this person I’ve become. I always thought of myself as someone who was strong on the inside. Now the woman I see in the mirror is weak and I don’t like her, I don’t want to be her.
When did this happen? Surely I haven’t become this person in just twelve days? No. This has been a long time coming. Every time I told myself I was fine when I wasn’t. Every time I told someone else I was fine when I wasn’t. Every time I gave in to the fear and the anxiety, every time I withdrew, every time I kept silent. Little by little those small, seemingly inconsequential compromises changed me, changed who I thought I was.
Now I’m someone who can’t leave my house.
But I’m fine, really.