Guys I just want to talk a bit about anxiety today.
Those closest to me are aware that I have battled anxiety for nearly all my life. It has affected countless decisions I have made and for better or worse it has played a massive part in shaping who I am. I have never really opened up in public about it before and its a bit scary, but they say its good therapy and who knows - someone out there might get something positive from my words.
After 40 years on this earth I am at a place where I know myself extremely well and for the most part I successfully manage anxiety and have structured my life to a point where generally I can keep the worst of it at bay. It wasn’t always this way however.
I have had months on end, living petrified, unable to sleep or eat. So crippled by anxiety that my body starts to break down. So conscious of my heart beat at night I would be scared that I might forget to breathe. Unable to do anything but pace around the house hour after hour. Exhausted and worn down by the battles my logical side has with my anxious side in my head. And believe it or not as strange as it seems, I have a very logical side to me that gets disgusted by any anxious thoughts.
I have struggled with two types of anxiety over the years. Extreme breakdowns which render me completely unable to function - and every day anxiety that pops up and causes chaos - but can be managed with knowledge and self awareness. It has been many years since I had an extreme breakdown - but nothing I have ever experienced compares to the horror. I liken it to the feeling you might get if there was a truck in front of you, milliseconds away from running over you and you know there is nothing you can do to stop it. That feeling, 60 seconds a minute, 60 minutes an hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. My extreme breakdowns were for the most part triggered by serious health scares. Obviously a doctor saying theres a good chance you have cancer is cause for concern for anybody.. but my anxiety riddled brain took that news and decided to completely lose the plot!
I have been dealing with every day anxiety for as long as I can remember. Whether it is skipping school on every day I was due to give an oral presentation or an extreme fear of meeting new people and taking on new challenges - its something that is always there. Back many years ago when mental health was not talked about it used to make me feel like I was failing at life. Thankfully society is much more open these days and it’s encouraging to know I’m not the only one with such issues. I have accepted this is who I am - for better or worse.
As horrible and debilitating as anxiety is - I’m not sure I would ever change a thing even if I could. Without anxiety there is very little chance I would have ever put so much time and passion into creating a life that works for me. Landscape photography is something I found that made me feel free and peaceful, no matter how many storms were ranging in my head. It is my escape and a big reason why I have been able to manage my anxiety so well. Without anxiety I doubt I would have thrown myself into it like I have and I am certain I would not be making a career out of capturing beautiful natural scenes. I am extremely blessed in my life to have a dream job, two amazing boys and a loving wife. Its amazing how powerful focussing on these positives can be for me when anxiety threatens to cause problems these days.
If you’re out there dealing with similar issues at the moment, please know you’re not alone - and life can still be incredibly joyful and fulfilling. Hang in there, surround yourself with good people, go easy on yourself and always stop to enjoy the small things in life.