I've been neglecting you. Well, really, I've been neglecting myself. The truth is I've been so caught up with what's in my head I haven't been able to focus on anything else. You see, dear reader, my head is haunting me. I am crippled by anxiety attacks and I don't know the cause. I've always suffered from anxiety, but in the last two months the panic attacks have increased astronomically. It starts as a feeling of bad butterflies in my stomach, becoming a pain in my chest, until my throat feels filled with a thick substance. This, in turn, makes me feel unable to breathe and I begin to hyperventilate. The tears then flow. This can happen anywhere, at any time, on the tube, at work, in my bed, in my kitchen, at a concert, at dinner....there's no telling where. But when I say they're crippling, I say that because they're crippling my life. For months I've been hiding in the bathroom at work as they hit, with my knuckles turning white. This past week new symptoms appeared: blurred vision and vomiting. And, as a result, for the first time in my life, I lost a job.
Unsurprisingly, I am demoralised. It is easy to slip into the self-hatred mode on the back of this development, but through all the anxiety, the odd thing is that I'm actually quite content these days. I wouldn't say happy, because happy seems like such a fleeting emotion. I have happy moments. I'm not where I want to be at all in my life and career, but I've learnt to cope with that. I realised over the last few weeks my biggest fear in life is fear of failure and as my friend Katie says, "Failure is just a result you didn't want". Once I heard that I was able to let go a little bit, because I can't control everything, nor would I want to. That kind of responsibility would ruin me! So yes, last week I lost a job and I don't know whether I'll get through today without a panic attack in a public place, but I've developed a surprising faith in the future. It's coming no matter what and a head full of fears has no space for dreams. And my dreams are BIG.