As a child I felt different from others, feeling uncomfortable in social settings and out of place at home. I would feel restless and irritable in any situation that required interaction with others. Always needing to put on a persona to fit the surroundings, feeling a struggle to fit in.
Life at home was difficult, mum was not in an emotional position to have a son and therefore I was moved in and out of foster homes. Always returning home only to be moved on within 6 months. This left me with an underlying feeling of abandonment and not being good enough or belonging. At the time I was unable to identify with these feelings/emotions. I was just in a permanent state of restlessness, irritability and discontentment.
In my teenage years I discovered alcohol. I had found my solution! or so I believed. My relationship with alcohol for many years was to use it as a social lubricant. It allowed me to relax and feel a sense of comfort around others. I was able to have a productive career during the week. But on weekends I need to relax and the only thing that would give me a sense of ease and make me feel comfortable in my skin was a few drinks. For 15 years this worked well for me, but in my mid 30s alcohol no longer worked. I was in a position where I could not live with alcohol as it was destroying my health, relationships … life. I also could not live without it, as it was the only way I could get a sense of ease and comfort.
For the next 7 years I struggled with not needing to drink, anytime a situation caused major anxiety I would rely on alcohol. Always regretting the binge it would trigger and wondering whats going on and what do I need to do. I would always think that it was alcohol that was the problem. Not understanding that it was merely the relief symptom to the anxiety problem I was suffering from.
My recovery, like all recoveries has been a long journey. Each step allowing for more growth and insight. A major turning point was identifying that I suffered from anxiety. It wasn’t a light bulb moment but rather a slow realisation. It’s a journey that I am and will be on for many years. And that is ok, I now have tools to help me whenever I feel anxious. Acceptance I would have to say is a corner stone. I know what I have and what I can do to ground achieve a sense of comfort in my skin.
Tools that have been shown to me include:
a. Grounding in the moment, I do this through regulated breathing and pressing my feet on the ground, getting in touch with my body.
b. Talking to someone who has also suffered from anxiety, letting them know how I feel. They can relate, offer solutions, lend an ear and make me feel normal.
c. Participate in life and not isolating, at home or in my head.
d. I exercise releasing endorphins making me feel energetic and positive.
e. Cooking, It allows me to get out of my head and focus on something that I love! Finding activities that bring me happiness is very important, I feel alive and apart of something greater that me or my thoughts.
f. Accepting who I am at any given moment, I no longer wish to be someone or somewhere else. I am who I am. I can strive for improvement and progress is fine. Progress and not perfection!
g. Try and not please everyone, that a tough one for a people pleaser like me. But if I don’t I end up burned-out, feeling empty and removed from who I am. Expressing my views allows me to know who I am.
h. If I’m down, helping someone always makes me feel good about myself. It is even better if they are unaware of what I have done. Doing it from a place of not needing recognition.
i. Write a gratitude list, recognise all the positive things in my life.
j. Talk to my partner, connecting to another person revealing my thoughts and feelings.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story. I hope that someone finds some useful tools above that might help them enjoy life for a moment. I know how had it can be at times, not knowing if the anxiety will ever pass. From my experience it does …. and it can be a most amazing life!