The other day, I was walking down a quiet street which leads to my house, when a small red van passed me. The man peered out of his window at me, and as I got half way down the street I realised he had pulled over and was sat there waiting. I quickly sped past, got to my door, fumbled with my keys and opened it quickly, and as I closed the door I seen the van through my window pulling out into my street and driving off, but he hadn’t seen me go into my house. Thank fuck.
Instead of thinking this was completely normal, he probably pulled over to check his phone or to give someone a quick call, or even eat a sandwich, I was convinced he was watching me and was going to follow me home. My palms were sweating, my heart was beating out of my chest, and my legs were working faster than they ever had. I had my pram, I was vulnerable, I was in a quiet street with nobody around.
The worst part, is that I feel like this a lot. No matter where I go, if I do go somewhere on my own,
I also have intense claustrophobia. I don’t mind small spaces as such (well, it depends how small), but when I am crowded by people I feel like I can’t breathe. It feels like they’re sucking in all of the decent air and I am drowning slowly in their carbon dioxide. This is when the panic attacks kick in. I dread going into our local card shop, which is the equivalent of a broom cupboard, and usually filled with 7000 people, and I couldn’t even dream of going to a festival, even though I have always wanted to. Probably not the most appropriate place to take O though, lets be honest.
The anxiety about leaving the house came about when I was pregnant with O. If I had to go anywhere on my own and anybody was walking near me, I would cross the street immediately. My heart would start doing back flips if somebody shouted the typical “Oy!” and I used to power walk everywhere. It’s just, I don’t want to bring ANY harm to O’s way. I panic when he’s in the car, I panic when we’re walking along a busy road. I’m pretty much a big panic machine waiting to explode.
The thing that is starting to affect me the most is the lack of sleep. I am going back to work tomorrow, and I stayed up till 2am last night thinking “Oh my god, what’s it going to be like? What are people going to say? Am I going to be centre of attention? Please god no“. This is a regular occurrence now, though. For example, I couldn’t remember where O’s health book was the other day, so I was up for hours thinking about where I might have put it and if I had lost it completely, and when I got up the next day I discovered it in his nappy bag.
I know I don’t suffer with agoraphobia, because I can go out, but just not on my own. I know I don’t have social anxiety, because I can talk to and make friends with anybody. I don’t find communicating with people difficult at all. I don’t know what I have. I would describe it as an overthinking problem.
As much as I like to pretend these thoughts are normal, I know they aren’t, but I do know there are so many people out there like me. I’m so silly, but I put off going to the doctors because my anxiety is completely situational, where I can go days and even months without having an attack. Seeing all of these wonderful, inspiring posts has made me realise that I should just take the leap and go seek the help, though. I know they aren’t going to think any less of me, and that they aren’t going to take O away, and they aren’t going to presume I am a terrible mother. The overthinking strikes again.
One day I will feel myself again. I always have hope. The best thing to come out of today is that I know I am not alone, and I hope this post makes other people realise that too.