What does an episode of anxiety actually feel like?

IMG_2037

This is my first post upon arriving back to the UK (or the Ukraine, if you’ve seen my delightful typo on Instagram) and i’d planned to write something cute and relatable about the holiday season – pardon my Americanism there, the holiday season just sounds so much more damn jolly than anything else, and I like it, mostly because I bloody love the film The Holiday and CANNOT wait to start watching Christmas films.

But today, probably thanks to a sneaky side-helping of jet lag, i’m not feeling quite right. In fact, i’m currently in the midst of a troublesome bout of anxiety.

I hate anxiety. I hate depression. I hate mental illness. I hate that they’re invisible, I hate that because they’re invisible they make you feel like they can’t be real because you can’t see them, that you must be making them up in your head.

And even as I write this an I know it’s a very real thing, I still feel like i’m making it up. I was diagnosed over two years ago, that doesn’t mean I still have it, heck even when I was diagnosed it didn’t even mean I had it. What if this whole mental illness is something i’ve made up in my head, what if it’s just an excuse I feel for wanting to curl up on the sofa, what if it’s just me begging for attention? It’s something that runs through my head constantly, and I can never tell whether that’s because it’s a symptom of a very real disease, or because, well, I am making it up.

I struggled to get out of bed this morning – not surprising considering I was on a red-eye flat from Washington Dulles Airport that landed at Heathrow at about 11am yesterday – i’d had four hours of very, very interrupted sleep – anyone who’s done a similar flight will tell you how difficult it is to get any sleep even with sleeping tablets because you know what? Plane seats aren’t comfortable, even when you’ve been upgraded to Premium Economy (thanks BA, you’re absolute gems). But ever since that feeling at 8am this morning that I should be getting up, replying to unanswered emails, writing posts to boost blog traffic and working on freelance projects, I haven’t been able to do anything. Except oh, I did wash my face and eat some Pringles, so there’s that.

My whole morning has been filled with labored breathing. Not labored in a tight chest way, but in a I NEED TO KEEP GASPING FOR AIR BECAUSE AIR, I NEED AIR. I’ve felt like i’ve had butterflies in my stomach that are all consuming – but it’s not butterflies with excitement, the sort you get before a holiday you’ve been so darned excited for, more like dread – and i’ve felt twitchy and on edge.

My eyes welled up when I saw last night’s dinner plates needed washing.ย I basically exploded when I saw how dirty the bathroom sink was, and the fact there was no food in the house made me feel pure panic and this immense feeling of being out of control – like there was no way of getting it back. No way of getting food or cleaning the house, like there was so much to do there was nowhere to start – and it left me feeling handicapped, so overwhelmed by every day chores and things that I was frozen, unable to move and do anything except curl up on the sofa.

I think that’s the main thing for me when I start to feel like this, this feeling of being overwhelmed by the little things, as if to me they are mountains that are threatening to suffocate me, that I am out of control and there is no way to gain control again.

There is also this irritating pressure that you put on yourself to snap out of it. And it fills you up with anger at yourself that you can’t snap out of it – you can’t have a productive day, feel sane, feel normal.

I’m not entirely sure that this makes any sense and I won’t sub it, because i’m not thinking as I write, i’m just writing the things going through my head as I continue through each sentence.

A lot of my feeling out of control today has come from this blog. I had a week away, because, well, I was on holiday and obviously I was going to have some time away from it. But seeing traffic dip right down low is scary, it makes me feel like maybe my moment in the blogging limelight has come to an end. Like it’s time to give up, pack away my WordPress account and go back to being a journalist without her own space on the internet. As i’m sure many of you have done in the past, i’ve had many blogs that were fun for a week before I got bored and stopped writing, and i’m scared that because I couldn’t will myself to write today, that maybe that had happened. Like i’d stopped wanting to do this.

I haven’t just FYI, it’s the anxiety talking. I know that now because I did the only thing anyone working through depression or anxiety can do, I took it one step at a time. I walked to the shop to get money out for the carpet fitter (because I had to force myself because I had literally no say in the matter because he was at my house and i’m not sure he would have appreciated me not paying him for the soon to be lovely beige carpet in the hallway). Then I got back and thought i’d check my bank balance, then all the comments and stats on my blog, and then before I knew it id’s started typing this, i’d started to feel in control again.

But I won’t force myself to have a productive day. Maybe i’ll sweep the kitchen, maybe i’ll reply to some emails, but maybe not, maybe i’ll go back to the sofa for the foreseeable future. Because you have to allow yourself the time out your body and brain need. It’s OK to step back from work to make sure you’re 100%, because yes work makes you money, but going without those new Zara heels and that ASOS faux fur coat you’ve been eyeing up (uh huh, that’s aimed at you Hannah), won’t make you unhappy, trying to survive without having your mental health in tact will.

  • Hi Hannah

    I totally get what you are saying. Coming back to reality is so scary and realistic but I think you’ve got an amazing message in your post; take it all one step at a time. I have a busy job and sometimes I just think, where do I start. I take a step back, go for a walk to Starbucks, clear my head and start again. To me you an inspiration and I love reading you blog. I’ve been going through a rough patch recently and feeling down, I’ve fought off depression and this year I had a close call. In actual fact, this post has made me honest with myself and that sharing might help. Thank you Hannah for being you, but not only that but being amazing.

    Much love xx

  • I save up your posts like a tonic to drink when I’m having a bad day. It doesn’t mean that I don’t want to refresh for new post every second, but I’m a binger and love sitting and reading your writing for an hour and not ten minutes which I’m certain is reflected in how many time I view your pages.

    Sure, I might not be indicative of every reader out there but just because your stats are down doesn’t mean people are losing interest. You’re brilliant. Seriously. Pleas keep writing because, if nothing else, you brighten up a shit morning at work every week while I’m drinking my coffee.

  • jayem

    Hi Hannah,
    thanks for this post, I also suffer from anxiety and at one stage really bad depression. Only a few days ago I was absolutley crippled with a feeling of impending doom and jitters, like something was going to go horribly wrong! for no reason at all. No amounts of tea or baths could settle me! Anyway I woke up the next day fine, so I know it was just one of those days.
    Your blog is a comfort to me when Im like that because I know Im not alone in this. I read your posts regarding mental health and all the comments from people with similar problems and it reassures me!
    Keep doing what you’re doing Hannah, you are an amazing blogger because you are real and true to you. Ive read other blogs and compared to yours they are materialistic and shallow and I cannot relate at all!
    Thanks for being human! x

  • PernicketyP

    Hi Hannah,

    Not usually a commenty person, but sounds like you need a dose of girl power and some love and support today!
    I just wanted to totally echo what the other girls have said. As I type this (sneakily type I may add) I am at work, in a freezing cold office, with a scarf (blanket!!) around my shoulders, a cup of very weak cheap squash and a scowl on my face. It’s really crappy in here BUT your posts always come to the rescue!
    Anxiety is a bitch. Depression – just as big of a bitch. I have my fair share of the mentals. But, as long as you give yourself the time to mend and heal, you’ll come out of it fighting strong and readuy for battle/blogging!
    Just remember that it’s not a permanent feeling. Although sitting in a duvet nest on the sofa binge watching episodes of Friends (that you know so well that the tv is almost pointless) is one of the best things ever – it isn’t as good as the feeling when the anxiety subsides and you want to do some air kicks and some kung fu fighting stances in celebration. You aren’t really sat there by choice, otherwise you’d just stop nagging yourself. No more judging yourself today! It’s just nnecessary and mean – you wouldn’t let anyone else speak to you that way, or if they did, they would have to succomb to your mighty Jackie Chan chop (hiii ya!) ((I really don’t know why all the weird fight references – just go with it)).
    All I’m saying is – you are such a role model. I read your posts thinking, “she did it you know. I sit here moaning all day about this crappy office with it’s crappy squash and it’s crappy air con, but she actually did it. She stopped the 9-5 torture, got off her arse, ignored the scaredy cat voices in her head and she bloomin did it! And look how well she’s ddone!” Don’t be mean to yourself because none of us are. If anything, we’re cheering you on! Those readers could just be Christmas shopping for all you know! We’ve only got admiration for you gurl. So leave the frickin dishes and settle down with a cuppa (out of the teapot if the washing up situation really is that bad) and just let yourself recover! We’ll be here tomorrow!

    Much Love x

  • Hannah, your honesty and writing is so pure, I love your style.
    I will simply keep reading when you write. Take time off as you need and be well!
    I don’t suffer any mental illness though I have raging cycles of pmt that sometimes feel debilitating. sometimes I feel literally like I’m losing it. Then the next day comes and I’m like, oh yeah, ready to take on the world again!
    Just go with what suits you and slowly!
    Ps. Enjoy your Pringles xx

  • Really identifiable post, thank you for it. The little things that turn into mountains panic me too, I once had a full panic attack because I couldn’t untie my lace on my Converse. Lots of little things that seem mundane to others can turn into mountains for those who suffer from anxiety. x

  • Sarah

    I spent the whole time reading that post just wanting to give you a big hug.
    (I realise because I’m a randomer that might sound creepy, but it’s meant in the most well-meaning of ways! lol)
    Yeah, you deserve a big hug. To say ‘thanks for brightening up my day’ (not just today, but regularly), and to say ‘stuff the washing up, just wait it out’.
    You’re a cool girl. Don’t stop being honest – it helps us.
    x

  • LydiaGrace

    It’s so, so awful that a huge number of readers (including me!) have worked their way down this post with nods of agreement. I wouldn’t wish anxiety on my worst enemy, it’s like a chain made of nasty thoughts that holds me back from what I want to do and who I want to be.

    I decided this week that I’ve had enough. It’s time to live my life, so I’ve started by posting a youtube video to hold myself accountable, appreciating the little things that ease my anxiety, and setting myself little goals each week. It’s not a guaranteed cure but in a few weeks I want to be able to look in the mirror and see a healthier, happier me.

    • Hi Lydia, your comment really got to me, I have episodes where all my anxieties gang up, and I can’t breathe, or relax. It’s the worst feeling
      I think you can have. Complete dread of all situations xx

  • Kate

    Hi Hannah,

    Please don’t give up on your blogs as I love reading them and so does one of my best friends. I really appreciate that you have taken the time to write this one in what sounds like a really difficult day for you. I hope that tomorrow is better. Take care x

  • Thanks so much for writing this post Hannah! I have ups and downs with anxiety too, and it is so helpful to read such an honest and relatable post about it. Also, the thing that helps me the most with anxiety – even more than macaroni cheese and romcoms and mindfulness – is going for a run. I am not saying this as some gazelle like creature who sprints around all the time – my run is more half waddle half power walk – but it clears my head of those simmering nerves like nothing else. I think it is because you a) can’t cry or hyperventilate whilst running and b) because at some point you have to use all your concentration to just run another step so it completely distracts you. I really recommend it next time you are having an anxious day or week! And yes, what everyone else has said, don’t stop writing! x

  • Hang in there hun – we all have days when we feel overwhelmed by the little things. Like you, I could sometimes explode because I get home from work late on a Friday night and the house is a sty (it isn’t) and my fiancรฉ doesn’t help me enough with the house chores (he absolutely does) and I can’t tackle it all so I might as well not to any of it (melodrama queen, no?) The key is to breathe, take some head space, regain perspective and do some little bits of it. Slowly your world will restore to its rightful crazy place. Personally I find international travel quite traumatic and already have plans for my return from Chicago to spend that entire day under the doona either sleeping or watching Suits episodes. Be gentle with yourself when you need to be ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Helenka

    Hey Hannah,

    Just a note to say don’t ever feel guilty for having days like these. I have had them and there fecking horrible, and it sucks when you live on your own and you think that the world has ended because there is no food in the house.. Oh except for dried Gojoo berries that you can live off for a little while longer, right? Untill the pack runs out and you consider boiling up some dried lentils for a couple of hours, because surely that will be more pleasant than walking down the road to get actual food! But the shop… its just so far to walk that whole 5 minutes.. And oh, I haven’t left the house for two and half days so the whole experience is just going to be horrendous.. And what the hell am I meant to wear! So ye the smallest things sometimes are the hardest, but I managed to get a masters degree and and save up and get organised to move to Australia, so maybe we need to remind ourselves next time that walking to the shop wont be so hard

  • Amy

    Hi Hannah,

    Reading your post was like reading what’s currently going on in my mind right now. I’ve had anxiety, depression, eating disorders since I was a teen and I go through waves of feeling ok and feeling anxious. I almost get worried to say that ‘yes, I’m ok’, as I know that a bout of anxiety can hit me like a bolt so unexpectedly.

    Take care of yourself and yes hit that sofa! My mental health nurse suggests a ‘first aid’ kit for days such as these. ยฃ20 in an envelope to order take out (no need to go out), a comfy outfit (or pjs) that you feel good in, a book, bubble bath and chocolate, or anything else that makes you feel better. Actually, I may do a post on this as it’s helped me so much. I’m currently attending a mindfulness course aswell.

    I hope you feel better soon, get plenty of rest.
    Amy x

  • So many people can relate to this Han. Keep doing what you’re doing ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s great to read. x

  • This is the most real thing I’ve ever read. And, after reading your blog daily, that’s quite a big statement!
    I’ve always suffered from anxiety, and sometimes, trying to pinpoint the real reason you’re feeling overwhelmed, can be part of the problem!
    Your blog is amazing, and very real, keep up the good work ๐Ÿ™‚
    (after watching love actually of course, which I will be doing myself tonight!) x

  • Lucy

    Ahh, I just love reading your posts! Cheers for being a courageous & lovely human.
    I’ve just started a mindfulness course which has worked wonders, I can’t recommend it enough.
    My favourite youtube video is…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YW-TDOgstSE
    (his voice is just like pure silk & it instantly gets me in a better place.) Hope it helps!
    Lucy x

  • Ali

    As always Hannah, thank you for this post. I suffer from anxiety and depression (thanks life) and sometimes I think the anxiety can be the worst part simply because it turns me, quite a capable and rational individual, into a raving monster who weeps at the site of socks that need to be paired up after washing.

    You hit the nail on the head with the feelings of being overwhelmed. You are a great writer and the fact you manage to run this (hilllariouuss) blog whilst battling mental health is amazing. Keep up the good work and take time out when you need it.

    Just an FYI, when I’m curling up in an anxiety fueled ball and ignoring the world I like to whack on the website Rainy Mood (it literally just plays the sound of rainfall on a loop). I don’t know why it works but it does. It is SO calming. I also have the app so I can listen on the tube and I honestly think this is what has prevented me from becoming a serial killer on my morning commute xxx

    • hannahgale9

      Thanks for this – that app sounds like the most incredible thing in the world. Downloading immediately. xx

  • Saz

    I cant believe how much I can relate when you post about mental illnesses etc. Its nice knowing that Im not alone and you’re blogs have really helped me… like alooooot ! I don’t usually comment on stuff like this or read blogs but keep doing what youre doing. When you wrote about ‘SAD’ it genuinley opened my eyes so much. I thought I’d never be able to get out this circle that kept going round and round.

    Thankyou Hannah
    Stay blessed !

  • Rachel Louise

    This year i started to suffer from aniexty from time to time, and i am so glad ive found your blog in the past few months.

    I feel like your in a similar stage of your life to me and its so refreshing to read things you write and think omg that like me. It really makes me feel better when im having a bad day, and makes me feel like im not the only one who has bad days over absolutly nothing.

    Xxx

  • Hi Hannah,

    I’m a new reader/subscriber and I love your blog. It’s amazing to read something which honestly feels like it’s come from my own head; you’re posts are so relateable and make me laugh because my thought processes are so similar.

    I, too, have suffered with anxiety and depression, and I, too, hate them. This post is so wonderful and honest, it makes me so happy that I’m not alone in my feelings of “am I using this illness as an excuse for not being super productive and sociable today?”

    A friend in a similar situation said the other day “how lucky are those people with normal brains, and they don’t even realise it”. It’s so true. But your post gives them an insight.

    And it reassures me that it’s OK to allow myself a time-out when anxiety hits. And I’m currently on a beach in Sydney and it’s raining so I guess I’ll end this comment there!

    Keep up the awesome blog, you’re a star ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Lois

    Hi, I love reading your blogs and do so whenever i get time.
    Lately i have been feeling like how you describe in your post. I feel like i know i am in a bad mood and tearful for no reason but i just cant pick myself out of it. It can be anything sometimes things that normally wouldn’t bother me. But when i get these feelings it feels like a big bad pressure on my shoulders and i just cant help but get angry, upset and cry. I always just put it down to pms but then i realized it would happen at other times of the month too. So then i put it down to being stressed ect. I never really thought about anxiety as i don’t really know much about it, It wasn’t until i read your post that i suddenly thought that’s how i feel. I just would like to say thank you for writing this post as i feel maybe this should be something i look into for myself, not that i am saying i have anxiety or not but its food for thought and something i never thought about looking into.
    Thank you

  • Lindsey

    Wow It’s like you have just described my life

    Thank you so much xxxxxxxxx

  • Char

    Hi Hannah,

    I just wanted to say that it’s really nice to hear someone else’s story about anxiety and depression, I’ve suffered with both for the last 5 years and it’s been really difficult and I’m sure you know how alone it can make you feel. I recently made a pledge with Mind.co.uk for the time to change project to share my story in the hope that it would help other people feel more able to share their experience but so far I’ve not been able to bring my self to do it! I think it’s great that you write about it so honestly, I think the stigma for people with a mental illness would be much less if more sufferers spoke out, I think it would help more people who have never dealt with mental illness understand more about what we go through and then maybe it would be less of an embarrasing think for sufferers to speak about.

    Thanks again,

    Char

  • Chooch

    It’s as if you took a little snippet out of my life reading this. Thats exactly how i feel and you described it perfectly so thanks ๐Ÿ™‚ I always find it pretty hard to explain to other people how I feel when anxiety hits other then I just don’t feel right today. Such a difficult illness but I hope you are feeling a little better with it all.

    Really refreshing to hear it from another person!

    Chooch x


Recent Videos

Follow Me