I’ve lived with anxiety for as long as I can remember. Sometimes depression too. At times, I’ve been prescribed medication. At others, I’ve avoided medication. I’ve tried a whole lot of different treatments over the years, but nothing has magically cured me.
When I was younger I was even filled with anxiety about my anxiety. I was consumed with the need to be cured, so I could move on with my life and be the fabulous person I knew I could be, if I just wasn’t so worried about every little thing all the time.
Anxiety stopped me from doing well at high school, from leaving bad relationships in a timely fashion and (for many years) from pursuing the career that I wanted. It held me back when I went travelling overseas. It made me doubt my value as a human being, as a partner and as a mother.
Some years ago, I named my anxiety Clive. It felt less threatening that way, giving Clive a name and a face. He’s a bit comical, and personifying him in that way makes him easier for me to deal with.
“Clive’s here again,” is a much easier thought to deal with than thinking, “I suck and everything I do is going wrong.”
And the big lesson I’ve learned about anxiety is that I don’t need to cure it. I need to manage it. And I need to push through and learn how to live that awesome life while Clive is still living in my attic.
If I play my cards right, Clive lives quietly and doesn’t make too much trouble. I do that by:
- exercising regularly
- eating well
- chipping away at my comfort zone constantly
- practising mindfulness and meditation
- practising gratitude (that one even makes me go ‘ugh’, but it can help).
The other thing I’ve learned about anxiety, is that it’s incredibly common. The more I talk about it, the more people I discover who are living with it. People who, like me, have learned to manage their anxiety and live their best life anyway.
Those people are my inspiration when times get tough and Clive starts to bang on his pots and pans. And when Clive gets loud, I now know I am not alone and can live my life even louder, and drown that sucker out.
To align with World Mental Health day, Bupa has put together resources to help raise awareness, and give you some tips on how you can manage your own ‘Clive’. Find out more by visiting the Bupa Blue Room here.
This post is sponsored by Bupa.