By all rights I should not be an anxious person. On the surface I am a man who has succeeded in most things I have attempted and have achieved more before the age of 30 than most people will achieve in their lifetime. So surely I should be one of the most confident, outgoing people out there right?
I was never an anxious person back in the day, If I wanted to do something, I simply got my head down and did it through pure determination. Some things were easier than others, but in general I tended to hit my near impossible targets I had set myself looking back at them.
I came back to England over six months ago expecting some form of a culture shock knowing it would take a while for me to adapt back in life in England, as five years is a long time and this country – and everyone else -has moved on without me. But the truth is I knew I didn’t feel myself before then, and I knew deep down I needed some form of help once I had finished my sixth book ‘The Pornstar’ and swiftly decided to give my brain a rest.
However six months later I was still finding it difficult to hold a conversation in English (which must sound strange when you consider I am an author), I had forgotten my extensive vocabulary and more often than not would stare at people blankly when they were talking to me, unable to absorb anything they were saying to me or react quickly enough like a normal human being would. I even found it difficult to be able to write something vaguely compelling. To be frank, I felt like I had become stupid…
Last week I went to the doctor realising that self-diagnosing creates more questions than answers, and when I went there I was diagnosed with a mild form of anxiety and/or depression.
I don’t like the word ‘depression’, mainly because of the stigma attached to it. Sure, I’m ‘sad’ sometimes but isn’t that what makes us human? To experience such a vast array of emotions and get through to the other side makes us better people in the long run. Whereas depression in my eyes was an easy excuse to throw around and use when I couldn’t achieve my ever growing list of goals. I don’t want excuses, I want results…
Anxiety felt the same way for me. However I know I’m not 100%. I’m currently working in Suffolk and have some incredible people around me (I know that’s an easy thing to throw out, but I mean it.) these people have no connection to me whatsoever, and I know right now I’m not an easy person to be around, but they keep persevering and going out of their way to be nice to me when it would be much easier to go through the motions and take the piss out of me behind my back. Maybe they are, you never truly know what is going on in someone else’s head, but I don’t get the impression that they are two faced; and when I do (And I will…) recover for this horrific mental illness, they will be an integral reason for me getting back to normal again, and there is no way I could ever repay them…
Mental illness is something that gets swept under the carpet because you can’t see it so it can’t be there. “You don’t look ill.” and “Just go and do it, what’s the problem?” Are two common phrases that people who have these illnesses hear quite often. I recently read that Zayn Malik cancelled his tour due to anxiety, cue thousands of people sending him abuse saying that his excuse is obviously bullshit. But I get it, and I really feel for the guy. If you met me for the first time and heard about how I’ve travelled around the world, can speak three languages, can do football freestyle tricks (well, used to anyway…) and write novels for fun you would expect someone exuding confidence to be facing you. But all I feel are nerves. There are no reasons for this, it’s just something I have built up in my head and the simplest of tasks such as talking to a co-worker can fill me with such dread in case I make a fool of myself. And this is not me, I’m a happy go lucky person with a quick wit usually, but anxiety can take that away from you and slowly erode your confidence until you are too scared to even leave your house.
It’s a long road to recovery, but I am getting better which is the key thing. I can’t wait until I am mentally ready to face the challenges of life again because I still have a lot of unfinished business with the world, lots of countries I haven’t explored and lots of books I haven’t written. One day I will look back on this year and see it as an obstacle I had to overcome, but for now it is solely about recovery. For those of you who think I have stopped everything you will be pleased to know I haven’t, I have simply slowed down. For example:
- I have my fifth book ready to be published, all I am waiting on is the book cover and that will be available to buy
- My sixth book is currently being reviewed in a publishing competition, and if it gets rejected I will continue to submit it to other publishers
- I am currently saving some money so I can continue to travel, then possibly settle in another country that I fall in love with and experience a new culture
- I have created a profile for ‘Upwork’ to generate another revenue of income through writing and gain experience in this field
- I will be writing a guest post very soon promoting my other three published books
- Although I have stopped writing book number 8 for the time being, I am still jotting down notes for it every so often for when I am mentally ready to continue writing the book again
Anxiety is something that the majority of people will go through at some point in our lives. I know more than anyone how frustrating and embarrassing it is when you can’t let your true personality shine through, but I want to tell any of you that may be suffering in silence that you have nothing to be ashamed of. I got it, and I have all but beaten it now, but for many of you who are too scared to tell anyone about anxiety please talk to someone and don’t be scared of what others think, chances are they are suffering as well and are too afraid to tell you. Talking about it to the right people was a key aspect to my very long recovery and I would encourage people to do the same…
One thing I have learned in the last few years is that the world is full of beautiful people who won’t mock you when you are struggling to be yourself, but see you for the real you and want to build you up and see you thrive in being yourself again. I was fortunate enough to have a great group of family and friends behind me and the worst part is over for me, I see light at the end of the tunnel and I’m starting to feel like the old me again, but for others it may not be as simple as that. Please believe in yourself, because I believe in you…