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I thought people would think less of me for having anxiety

Kimberley - Time to Change

"Anxiety is not just being a little bit nervous"

Anxiety is a thing that everybody experiences to different extents, but people need to realise that when anxiety dictates your every move and action, that it’s not just being a “little bit nervous”. It’s an exhausting battle fighting with your mind every day and it doesn’t always feel like you’re winning.

I have always been a “worrier” as people call it, ever since I was a child. It wasn’t until I went to university that my anxiety started to dictate my whole life and strip away my independence. I struggled for so long, staying silent because I thought people would think less of me, especially because I was studying Mental Health Nursing at the time. I no longer felt able to cope with the overwhelming feelings I experienced every single minute of my life. I stepped off my course in third year, and yes, I was so close to finishing, but my anxiety was also so close to beating me.

The stigma associated with mental illness needs to stop. When my doctor told me that I had anxiety and obsessive-compulsive thoughts, I thought people would think less of me. Why is this? I’m still the same person I’ve always been, even if I don’t feel like it. It’s hard to face something that you struggle so much with and have someone say “oh, OCD, doesn’t that just mean you like to clean?”

How I wish it was that simple. I have constant intrusive thoughts that feel impossible to ignore, I need constant reassurance to complete my day; my anxiety convinces me that those around me don’t love me, my anxiety convinces me that there’s nothing I can love about my body, it convinces me that anything that I do will never be good enough, constant doubts in my mind that never seem to fade. I have missed out on so much because of this but I am determined to beat it, I will no longer stay silent.

This is a running battle that I am working on fixing. I am having some good days. I am doing some things that I used to love doing. I am slowly getting my independence back. It will be a long journey but one that I want to take, I know it’s worth it.  This is a reminder to always be kind to those around you, you never know what someone is going through. I know there are others out there like me, I want to inspire those people to speak out about the struggles that they face. Our voices are louder together.

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