Before I even heard the term ‘anxiety,’ I knew something wasn’t right. I thought I was ‘a worrier,’ or had a case of ‘nerves’ like my gran. As an adult I have been treated for generalised anxiety and it’s been suggested I have OCD tendencies and possibly complex trauma (a type of PTSD). Last month I was diagnosed with noise sensitivity disorders (often linked to anxiety). I’ve struggled with insomnia on and off for years.
This is what living with anxiety is like: I wake with my heart racing. It takes hours to fall asleep. I am scared of everyday noise. I am scared of falling. I am scared of things falling on me. I am terrified of loved ones dying. I worry obsessively and see danger everywhere. I worry about my own and others’ health. If my children don’t get back to my texts or calls I imagine the worst. I don’t like people sitting or standing behind me, or sitting in between two people. I look for the ‘safest’ seat when I am out.
When a CBT therapist suggested I might have OCD it made sense. Although the condition is widely associated with a fear of germs and hand-washing, there is more to it such as ruminating, intrusive thoughts and seeking reassurance, all of which I experience. I like things to be clean – if there are crumbs, hairs or other evidence of humans’ bodies around me I feel contaminated. When my children were babies I’d constantly check they were breathing and engaged in ‘magical thinking’ – if I got things right (like answering a phone before it stopped) I believed it would protect us all from death.