My 21st birthday was the best birthday I have ever had.
I don’t do anything in halves, and I am most definitely that person who throws my birthday in everyone’s face. I love being made a fuss off, big surprises and being surrounded by everyone I love. My lovely housemates this year went above and beyond to make my day special, and truly made me feel like the luckiest girl in the world.
I spent the night in an over the top dress, with big hair, big heels and forcing everyone at the bar to do tequila shots with me. I epitomised your stereotypical party girl.
You wouldn’t think that a girl dealing with anxiety would be a fan of all that attention and partying. But on a good week, that’s the kind of girl I am. On a bad week, it’s a whole other story.
There are a lot of times where I don’t want to see or talk to anybody. I don’t want to socialise or have to start a conversation. I want to hide in my room, under all the duvet and blankets I can and block everything and everyone, out.
This is how my anxiety makes me feel. I get this overwhelming feeling of fear that I’ll manage to fuck up whatever I attempt. I start to convince myself that my work isn’t good enough, that I’m wasting my time. I start to think that I’m bad at what I do, that I’m a bad friend and a bad daughter. All because on that particular day, my anxiety has gotten the better of me.
So, on days like that I keep myself to myself. I shut off, and shut people out until I’ve done what I need to do to make it go away. Knowing that you’re isolating yourself from people who care about you is a very odd and horrible feeling. You’re fully aware of what you’re doing, and you know you should probably stop, but you don’t. Because you’re scared of burdening people.
For me, I know I have a group of friends that would never judge me. They may not always understand the way I’m feeling, but they are always there for me. Same goes for my parents and the rest of my family. They all know that sometimes, I just need to be alone for a while to gather my own thoughts and come up with my own solution to my problem.
On a bad day, I don’t want to talk about it, because then I have to confront it. I don’t want to take my mind off it by socialising, because then I’ll just be in the same mood, but surrounded by people and having to fake being ok. I just want to zone out, and care for myself. And I do that by writing, reading, working or having a 45 minute shower listening to Adele. Belting out chasing pavements is oddly therapeutic, try it yourself.
Nevertheless, being 21 and having this mindset can make you feel abnormal. You start to feel like the awkward kid on the playground that people whisper about. And you start to become paranoid that people really are judging you.
“How can she expect to make things better if all she does is spend her time alone?”
You look around, and it seems like everyone else in your life is galavanting out and about, care-free and enjoying themselves. It makes you wonder why that’s not you. You start asking yourself, “Why can’t I be spontaneous and fun? Why don’t I want to be out of the house more and with people? Am I causing my own anxiety?”
But the reality is, I am this way, because I am an anxious person. It’s in me, like it is in everyone to an extent, only mine creeps up to the surface and tries to take over more often than normal. My anxiety can go from mild to chronic in a matter of minutes sometimes. Other times, it can go months without affecting me. But it’s a part of who I am.
What I’m learning now is that it doesn’t have to control me. My mental health needs to be nurtured, not ignored, and accepting that it’s a part of me, but not something that has to change me is the first step to tackling it. Accepting my issues, and learning what to do for myself to make it manageable is the best thing I’ve done. It’s enabled me to stop worrying about what other people think about me, and start to tackle how I think about myself.
I’m still in my beta state. But I’m getting there.