Anxiety: it’s OK to not be OK but it’s good to talk and even better to get help

A few years ago, I went through a pretty bad patch. The stresses and strains of adult life caught up with me and I didn’t deal with it well.

On the surface I was my normal, jokey self but I would burst into tears on my way to and from work or avoid situations I couldn’t handle. I drank more than I probably should’ve done and then used coffee as a pick-me-up, creating a vicious cycle. I didn’t talk to anyone about it until I couldn’t cope anymore and I broke down in front of my manager. It felt humiliating.

They gave me the number for the Employee Assistance Programme who in turn referred me for counselling. Like most people, and especially most men, I was dubious it would be of any benefit and put up all sorts of barriers to protect myself from getting the help I needed.

Little by little, the wall came down and I began to explore why I felt like I did and though a combination of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and just saying things out loud to a “neutral” person, began to feel better.

Today I’m still better but I don’t think I’ll ever be “cured” or “fixed”, I just have more tools to cope with the anxiety.

At the weekend I found out that my granddad, who died last year, used to sometimes be so anxious that he wouldn’t leave the room and my grandma would have to eat alone. I don’t know if anxiety it genetic but I never want it to get to the stage where I miss out on life when there are ways to feel better.

I also found my “anxiety book” – part of the exercises to externalising how I felt.

If you’re reading this, maybe I’m not a neutral but I’m more than happy to listen to how you feel or explain what I went through and my experience of how I got help.

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