Going on a year long Erasmus exchange with anxiety

Hi Anxiety,

Since starting this blog, I figured at some point I’d end up sharing this part of my life. And this week I just thought, why the heck not, cos there’s no time like the present. Basically, I have/had anxiety for around 4 years. It would come in waves of “I’m dealing with it, it’s manageable” to “WTF, this is taking over my life”. For a long time, I was going back and forth between the two. I just thought that would be kind of it. A bit like “well, *shrugs*, this is my life now”.

I became almost comfortable with that being my situation. Comfortable up until the point where my “WTF, this is taking over my life” panic attacks were becoming more frequent. A close circle of people knew about this part of my life and knew how to help at the low points. And although it was important and necessary for me to tell friends and family, I allowed it to become a sort of comfort blanket.

“Comfort is the enemy of progress”

– P. T. BARNUM –

Time for a switch up.

A kick up the arse (excuse my French), element for me was when I was alone and had a panic attack in public. In other words, my comfort blanket was gone. A stranger saw and recognized what was happening and came over to help me through it.

This was the moment I felt like I had reached a dead end and had no choice but to turn around. In a few short months, I was about to up route my life and move to Italy. I really did not want to experience another situation like this in a foreign country, especially one where I did not speak the language.

The thing that I had been dreading doing for years I finally found myself on the doorstep of. I decided to book an appointment with a professional. I wasn’t going to get any better by not doing much about it. In a way, I almost felt like I was missing out on an opportunity to be living my best life.

A few weeks later I had my first appointment. It wasn’t easy but what she was saying was really resonating with me. When she was saying things, it was like I was hearing them all for the first time. Some of the stuff I had already heard from family and friends but when a professional with an actual degree was saying it, my brain was like:

My relationship today with anxiety,

“In the end, she became more than what she expected. She became the journey and like all journeys she did not end, she simply changed direction and kept going.”

– R. M. DRAKE –

It wasn’t like a sudden flip and all of a sudden I was anxiety free. Rome wasn’t built in a day and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have wobbles now and again. It takes time and patience. For me, I was so extremely motivated by Italy that instead of keeping anxiety at the forefront of everything I did, I shoved it to the back in an attempt to quiet it down.

Avere fiducia

Some will know that recently I got a tattoo saying “Avere Fiducia”, and you may be asking “Why Hayley, what does it mean?” Well friends, “Avere fiducia” is Italian for having faith. This for me was important because living in Italy, I’ve had to have a lot of faith in myself. This year, I’ve been faced with a lot of  “I need to do this for me” moments. Now, when it comes to doing solo trips around Italy, I’ll be nervous but I won’t be nearly as anxious, whereas before I would’ve simply written the whole thing off. So, in a nutshell, that’s what “avere fiducia” means to me.

Tattoo in Italian

Why share this?

I consider myself to a relatively private person and sharing this has been somewhat of a big deal. But I suppose the point I want to get to, is to hopefully let people know that the first step is always the hardest and that’s okay. It took me years to finally do something about it. For a long time, it seemed like I didn’t really have a lot of reason for a change. So as mentioned, Italy was my main motivation for change. This was where I finally had to start believing that mentally, I was stronger than I thought. Sharing things about mental health at the end of the day is about opening the door to a conversation. This year I’ve reached a point where I feel I’ve made a tremendous amount of progress. I suppose I want to let people know that progress is possible.

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1 Comment

  1. Theresa
    May 4, 2018 / 10:42 am

    I’m so proud of you my baby girl….
    All my love mum xx💖

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