Keeping anxiety a secret makes it thrive

I recently wrote this article for a website started by Niall Breslin a fellow Anxiety sufferer who is creating awareness in the mental health space to support others

When I had my first major anxiety attack it took me completely by surprise. Yes, I’d felt nervous in the past but really only natural nerves, the kind you get before a big presentation or job interview. I knew deep down that once I got going I’d be fine and the nerves would dissipate.

This time I felt like I’d been punched hard right in the face. I was totally out of sorts, sweating, cold, dizzy, shaking and extremely concerned about what everyone thought of me.

My first major panic attack happened when I was giving a presentation in a business setting, with a group of people eagerly awaiting my wisdom. The shame and judgment I felt was massive. I would have loved to have been swallowed up by the ground at that point. That day was the beginning of a number of years of struggle for me. Each day, the what if’s and worst case scenarios would pulse through my mind, always keeping me on edge and constantly drip fed with adrenalin.

On one occasion I was interviewing a potential employee, when I broke out sweating, a lot! The person stopped talking and looked at me and said ‘are you okay? You look really nervous?’ to which I replied ‘no I’m fine, please, carry on’. Oh no I thought, my secret is going to get out and then everyone will know. What am I going to do? Obviously that person didn’t get the job. Secret safe for now.

My anxiety kicked off because of the huge amount of pressure I was under, some self-induced, some from work, some from home. I was desperately trying to make the anxiety stop while keeping everything intact.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.

Everyday keeping the anxiety at bay, fighting it, suppressing it and feeling generally terrible was doing nothing but feeding it and making it grow.

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