I used to be embarrassed of my anxiety, but now I embrace it. I have suffered from anxiety since I was little, but it only really started to show a few years ago.
I found myself cancelling plans with friends, family and colleagues. I would accept an invite and then a couple of days before I would cancel and make something up.
I started calling in sick to work more often because I didn't feel well enough to go in. Not because I had a stomach bug etc, but because my anxiety was really bad.
I felt embarrassed to tell people the truth and I would also tell myself that it wasn't anxiety. I was in denial. It kept getting worse and worse until I went on holiday and I had such a bad panic attack I was hospitalised. This was a turning point for me to reach out, to admit to myself that I have anxiety and get help.
My dad did not understand and he always thought I was being "dramatic" or "over-exaggerating". These words from people are what made me embarrassed. I was made to feel like it wasn't a big deal but it was for me. Once I got help from my doctor and my therapist I felt so much better.
I am now nearly a year into my recovery journey and I embrace my anxiety. I have the tools to cope with it and now all I want to do is help others.
Anxiety can feel lonely and isolating at times. A lot of people say they are "fine" because of this. Talking about how you are feeling can be intimidating and you can be made to feel awkward and embarrassed.
Maybe you know someone who suffers but you don't know what to do? Just listen to them. It is so liberating to be able to talk to someone without being judged. For me it was like a big weight was taken off my shoulders and I felt so much better! We do not expect you to be an expert or know what you are doing when we talk to you. Just listening can make a massive difference.
Stigma is a really big issue and I feel this is why so many people feel they cannot talk about this. I now know it is okay not to feel okay and I want others to feel this way too. My mental health does not define me. It does not define others. It does not make us any different as individuals.