My Life Journey – Living With Anxiety
I was born into this world premature. After specialist care and inner resolve to battle through I was then under the care of my very loving parents. My family was building up around me over the years with four brothers and one sister. I am third in line of succession.
I am very grateful to Mum and Dad today for a wonderful upbringing. I always remember having a very happy childhood, but do remember being very shy, quiet and somewhat nervous with little confidence.
I have never forgotten sports days at school. I was absolutely petrified of lining up and competing, being observed and really did everything I could to get out of that and many other situations. I also remember our class being transported to woodwork shop at another school. During this time I realized that I was struggling to keep up with the others, and when it came to measuring things and doing practical things around others I would get really shaky. I relied heavily on one of my friends to help me out. That was just another experience that I dreaded.
I didn’t know why I was like this or why I was unable to talk to my family or friends about what was going on. I’m sure I did say things, but how many parents or friends would have known or understood about Anxiety back then, and would have just thought of it as fairly normal growing up stuff. I really don’t remember. I’m sure that I thought I was normal but the other kids were just better at hiding their symptoms than me.
Approaching my early teens, I started to become aware of myself in comparison with others. I felt that I stood out because I was small. At the age of about 12, a boy made a comment to me at a local park about how I walked and this has been one of the main factors that have contributed towards some aspects of my Social Phobia.
When I got to high school I also started to get bullied as well. All these things started to affect my confidence and self-esteem.
From that point on, walking anywhere became difficult for me. Whether it was getting off the bus and walking away as the bus left, walking around school or walking with friends and family, walking in town, walking up to people I know. Walking anywhere became a constant reminder- “how am I walking?” This way of thinking became so ingrained, that just the thought of, and then the action of walking would make me anxious. My legs would tighten up to the point where sometimes I would have trouble walking at all. My inner talk would be going flat out – “How am I walking, am I walking funny, will people notice me walking differently,” and so on.
I put up with this for many years skillfully doing things and hiding symptoms.
I joined the workforce straight out of high school employed as an Automotive Parts Assistant at a Nissan Franchise in Christchurch. At this time I started drinking socially with friends in the weekends and regularly on Friday night with work colleagues. The only time that I felt I could walk properly was when I was drinking alcohol and became relaxed. I had no problems at all. So alcohol really did help me in social situations. I used to binge drink quite heavily and regularly but I knew that I could not apply this to my daily life.