When I look back on my life, I realise just how much Anxiety has inhibited my life. This was particularly so when I was 18. In 1998 I wanted to go to university to study computer engineering at the University of Portsmouth, UK. This involved moving away from my then home town of Halesowen, and relocating some 200 miles away. After being bullied for around 7 years at high school and sixth form college, I was in no way emotionally prepared to be able to do so, due to my crippling anxiety. Being bullied for this amount of time, left me weakened, I had trouble sleeping, being in crowds and coping with life in general.
I remember distinctly, way back in 1998 I would have panic attacks at the prospect of going away to university. My mind would fill up with irrational fears, “What if nobody liked me? How would I make friends?” It didn’t help that my brother was mocking me for feeling the way I did, saying that I needed to go away to university. People at the sixth form college where I went said that I was “A puff” for wanting to go to a local University, where I could stay at home and commute. My father, an accountant started doing financial forecasts, instilling further fears in me saying that if I went away to university that I would be financially worse off and in severe amounts of debt. All in all, it felt terrifying. I felt that I was in a “tug of war”, on one side there was the desire to move on in my life and go and do something that I really wanted to do, on the other side my mind was sounding the alert, preventing me from doing so. I kept vacillating between staying and going, one minute I had made my mind up I was going, the next I was staying. In the process I was annoying all those around me.
It all came to end when I broke down in tears. I called my mother on the phone at work telling her that I couldn’t do it, I simply could not face the prospect of going away to University. My mother confirmed that she agreed that it was the right thing to do, due to my emotional state. My anxiety had defeated me. I accepted that the only option was for me to stay at home and for me to commute to my local university.
I decided to go to a local University, Aston University in Birmingham. Before I embarked on going, I had a mental breakdown. I was enveloped with fear at the prospect of going, as I literally knew nobody. I was terrified at the thought of having to find my way around new buildings and meet new people. The first week I remember was hell for me. I was literally battling my anxiety. I would have frequent panic attacks and need to go to the toilet many times a day. I remember the first few days of University were extremely difficult for me, I felt so alone and vulnerable. I remember coming home and crying some nights because I felt that I would never settle, never make friends and never achieve academically. My mother went to the water stones book store in our local shopping centre and brought a book for me to read called “feel the fear and do it anyway” by Susan Jeffers. This helped a little and gradually I began to get into University life. I made some new friends and began to really settle in at University. I found that the people there were there because they wanted to be there, they had a genuine interest in the course that they were undertaking, so they weren’t interested in messing about and bothering others, as I had found at college and school. I enjoyed my time at Aston University; however, I can’t help thinking what if? What if I had gone away to University, to my first choice at Portsmouth?
In hindsight I see that there are opportunities that have been missed due to my anxiety. It is sad to think that had I dealt with my anxiety a lot earlier that I could have been able to do some of the things that I had planned to do, such as to go away to University in Portsmouth. I implore anybody reading this to take action in dealing with their anxiety as a matter of urgency. Living your life with anxiety isn’t living at all, it impacts on practically every aspect of your life, from working to dating. I have created a free course to help you with your anxiety.