If you watch the video I linked to in my previous post (The Alphabet), you’ll see that I spoke in front of 200 people earlier this year. If somebody told me five years ago that I would do that, I wouldn’t have believed them, because from 2005 until around 2011 I frequently suffered from anxiety attacks, which stopped me from living my life to the full.
I was on the London Underground on a Sunday when I first had an attack, the morning after a drunken night out with my mates from uni. The carriage was relatively quiet and there were plenty of seats, but a weird-looking man chose to stand close to where I sat. I hadn’t really noticed him until he started swaying. He was trying to balance without holding onto a handrail, whilst holding a cardboard cup of coffee and I suddenly felt as if he was about to either fall on me or spill his coffee. When I looked up at him, his face appeared to be completely grey and there was something really odd about it. He started to fall towards me in what seemed like slow-motion. Later, I realised that he was probably on heroin or something but at the time my only thought was, “he’s not human”. I realise that this is not an assumption that most person would make, but I have watched a lot of horror films and I own the complete Buffy the Vampire Slayer box set. And the X-Files one.
My body’s immediate reaction to this was to shut down – I went through all the sensations of passing out, but I didn’t faint. I don’t really remember what happened afterwards; I presumably made it safely to Paddington and then back to Cardiff. At the time, I had no idea what had happened and it took months of it happening again and again in various public situations for me to discover that it was anxiety.
I’m fine now. My lovely friend and unofficial life coach Andrea Callanan, who runs Sing and Inspire, published an email that I sent her about my anxiety on her blog, All about the Voice. If you want to know what happened between my zombie man attack and today, you can read about it here.
So many people have suffered or are currently suffering from anxiety. I know at least 20. If you’re one of them, I want to let you know that it does get better but you do need to work at it. Start by learning how to breathe properly – breathe slowly and deeply into your belly, pushing it out as you breathe in and drawing your belly button in as you breathe out. Get out in the fresh air more. Live more healthily – excessive alcohol is no friend of the anxious person, you might feel great while you’re drunk but hangovers can contribute to the worst anxiety attacks. Drugs are not a good idea. Do the things you love to do instead. Sing, dance, run, laugh, live.