Life Update: Anxiety

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Hey all!
I started this blog to be able to share my love for food, as well as to clear my mind a bit. I’ve always felt that writing things down helps to give certain feelings a place, as well as help understand situations better. The following Life Updates will contain my life for the past couple of weeks: my first experiences with living together, improving our house even more (pictures!), I’ve been to a Toko for the first time ever (they had wasabi ice cream, really!), I learned a lot about myself and I unfortunately still have to deal with this anxiety. I’m quite busy tackling this fear: I even went to school today after almost a year! Hopefully I’ll soon feel confident enough to start going there daily again.

There’s so much going on in my head right now I don’t even know how I’m going to write this all down! But surely I can’t be the only one who feels overwhelmed sometimes, so maybe someone can identify with this. Okay, where do I start…

Anxiety 

First of all I would like to tell you a bit about what my life looks like. I’ll start at the beginning of this phase and try to keep it clear!

In December 2014, I came back in the Netherlands after spending 6 months in Australia for my internship. I was a different person then: I learned a lot, but also had been feeling very unlike myself. I had been so focussed on going home because I thought that would be the answer to all my problems, but when I came home, I learned that everything was still there.

Immediately after coming home I had to return to school. I have always had fear of failure so I started having stress right away. Long story short: this stress turned into social anxiety. After a short while, this anxiety for school turned into anxiety for almost everything. After over 2 months of working hard I was so unhappy I decided to stop going to school for half a year. This was the best decision I could have made. Slowly I started seeing life in positive perspective again, and with the help of a professional in anxiety I learned a lot about myself. I worked full-time in a restaurant, which I really enjoyed, and planned to go back to school after the summer break. However, when I started again the anxiety came rushing back. After a while of struggling I decided to postpone school for another half year.

Even though I loved my job as a waitress, it stressed me out as well. I knew I was good at it, I received compliments and it has always been my passion, but I still could not shake the fear of failing. So frustrating! So I decided to temporarily stop working as a waitress as well. Walking away from your fear is never the answer, but I felt like I had no choice and I wanted to focus on becoming happy again.

Daily life

My daily life may seem boring, but to me it feels just right. After all that time of coping with the anxiety it feels good to get up in the morning, knowing it’s just another “regular” day. I go to the gym around 3 times a week, I spend a lot of time cooking and lately, I fell in love with writing. I’m completely serious when I say that I feel like I found some sort of passion again, even though my blog is not that big or successful (yet?). When I know I have a story to write it feels like I have a goal again, and one that makes me happy too!

Back to school 

This morning I had an appointment with the dean/student counsellor (I don’t know the correct word). It was weird to be back at school but it felt good, too. We discussed a lot and I feel like this lady is very wise and will be able to help me cope a bit. Problem is, it feels like I’m walking towards the end of the cliff. That sounds extremely dramatic and I’m aware of that, but the problem with an anxiety disorder is that in fact there is no real problem: the problem is created by me being so scared for something (that might not even come) that I get frightened of fear itself.

What does this fear look like?

Let me explain this with fear of dogs. If you are scared of dogs, you see a dog and you get scared. Simple, right? You might even be able to see the difference between a big scary dog, and a tiny harmless dog, which does not frighten you at all. Now, if you have an anxiety disorder it’s a little different. If you see a dog you get frightened right away, even if that dog is tiny and has no teeth. However, you are also scared of running into a dog. You avoid cycling through the park, because that’s were dogs might be. You stop going to your nephews birthday because their neighbours have a dog. In the end, you might be scared to leave the house at all, since there are dogs out there…. Do you see how this works? An anxiety disorder is being scared of fear itself. You create fear that is not relevant: not every dog is dangerous and going outside doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to see one. In the end you get so anxious of the fear itself, you start creating this fear that it all started out with in the first place.

That’s what’s happened to me: I’m so scared of being scared, that I scare myself. 

Are you still following?

Learning process

If you are having trouble understanding all of this, welcome to my world. I spend so much time thinking and overthinking and trying to make sense out of all this that I’m completely exhausted all the time! (Maybe that’s an excuse for sleeping a lot… Hmm)

However, I already learned so much. Really! For example, I was scared of the future for a very long time. I thought I had to be successful, had to have that great job at the top of the ladder that would bring me so much stress and then I would be unhappy again…. But only now, after so many years of struggling, am I starting to realise that my perspective of the world is wrong. Oh, so wrong! I never realised that I know absolutely no one that has a job that is as high up the ladder as I thought I would have to have. I learned that everyone I know is having a “regular job” and that this is fine! (!!!!) After all this time I’m finally beginning to see that it’s not about success, that I will not fail if I don’t reach that high up level. I’m starting to have more confidence in the future, knowing that I can just work somewhere that makes me happy. DAMN!

Why I share this

Ever since I “failed” in my opinion, I have been lying about it. When I was in Australia I kept telling the world that I was having a great time all by myself. My closest friends new that I was not going to school anymore, but if anyone else would ask how I was doing at school, I would lie that everything was fiiiiiine. I told myself that it was something to be ashamed of. Not going to school means you are weak, not good enough, and not smart enough. And that should be your secret.

Only now am I starting to learn that keeping all this a secret was only making things worse. Everyone has that time in their lives where they just don’t know what to do with themselves for a moment, and there is nothing wrong with that. Hell, I learned that anxiety is one of the most common reasons for leaving work or school! So I am trying to be open now. Have not yet told anyone directly that I lied, but when a family member asks how I’m doing at school I’ll tell them I’m getting ready to go back. And that I’m not completely sure yet if I will manage. But I’m working on that.

Pheww, that was quite the story to type. I feel a little relieved though, so it worked once again.
If you are struggling with anxiety or anything else, you are more than welcome to send me a message. Really, I wish I asked for help earlier!

Next time I’ll handle a happier topic I promise 🙂 But for now, it feels good to have this out there….
See you tomorrow!
Vivian
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