There’s a classic phrase that we are all familiar with, which is spoken retrospectively, and I am going to use it now.
A few years ago, if someone had told me that I’d be in my third year of university contemplating a career in Journalism, whilst trying to establish myself as a writer by writing poetry on a WordPress blog and working on three novels, one of which would be my dissertation project, I wouldn’t have believed them.
I’ve found that life has a funny way of making you realise how far you’ve come, and how amazing you can be if you just try. At one point in my life, I didn’t try at all. Well, I did, but I didn’t feel like I was doing anything worthwhile. I hadn’t found my passion. There wasn’t a spark in my life that said, ‘Hey, you’re on the right path, you’re doing the right things.’ I felt like I was on the wrong path, doing things that I didn’t really want to do. This meant that I would believe I had to start all over again by taking a leap of faith. It turned out that when I leapt, I landed on the edge of the new path and it immediately felt wrong, and that’s when I realised I had to jump back.
I landed back onto the right path, which is the one I had been walking all along, without realising that I was heading towards the future meant for me.
So, where does anxiety fit into all this? My final year of college (which was in fact an extra year, because the year most people went to university, I wasn’t ready and I wanted to delay the inevitable) gave me so much stress that I got anxiety about what I was doing and where I was going. This, coupled with the fact that I thought I was a terrible friend, and then heightened by the grief I was suffering due to the loss of my Grandad, meant that I felt hollow. I was empty. I had nothing to give myself or anyone else. I was waking up miserable, wishing for a different life. I wished for change, I wanted to be a different person, a better version of myself, because who I was then didn’t feel like anyone at all. I wrote ‘I do not exist’ on a piece of paper and stuck it on my late Grandad’s corkboard.
It got to the point where I had to take a week off college to get my head around things. In my mind, I wanted to leave for good. It scares me to think where I would be if I had dropped out, but I’m grateful for the fact that I realised I needed help and I went straight to my GP and told her how I’d been feeling. Before I knew it, I was having Cognitive Behavioural Therapy over the phone. I’d studied CBT in Psychology in my first year of college and suffice to say I didn’t make it to a second year. Ironically, it was too much for my mind to handle.
Gradually, I started to feel better and began seeing the world differently. It was after my therapy ended that my coping techniques really kicked in, because at that point I was out on my own. I’d got through my exams, applied to university and was awaiting the results. I knew that this was the new chapter I had been aching after. I just needed to wait a little longer.
Results Day was surreal but massively overwhelming in a good way. It was official; I would be going to Nottingham Trent University to study English with Creative Writing. I was shocked, but relieved. Shocked because it felt like a complete accident (I don’t entirely remember selecting that course, or being aware of what course I had chosen) and relieved because I knew I had, somehow, chosen the right course. I realised that I had been lucky not to ruin everything for myself. I very nearly did, but it turned out that although the last few months of college had been some of the hardest, everything happened for a reason, and everything fell into place in a way that I could only have dreamed of.
However, just because I finally felt in the right place, it doesn’t mean that my anxiety disappeared. I was managing it then, and I’m managing it now, but it still creeps in once in a while to remind me that it’s there. Some problems don’t leave or get resolved no matter how hard you try, so you stop trying and it gets worse. Until you end up with nothing at all, and that in itself is a problem. But, change your way of thinking, and you can turn your problem into a solution. I still felt like a terrible friend, but then I realised that it didn’t matter, because I know that I am a good friend. I’m reluctant to write it, but I need to reassure myself that I am a good person and a good friend to the people that love me and appreciate me, those who understand my story, and believe in me and where I am going. I realised that if I was to defeat my anxiety, I needed to overcome the source of it, and this was a losing battle. A conflicting, confusing and, at times, terrifying battle that saw my self-esteem plummet back to square one. When you look at yourself through the eyes of someone who causes you intense anxiety (shaking, sickness, worry) you begin to think that you deserve to feel that way, and that you’re trapped in an endless cycle.
Break the cycle. It’s not a case of quitting while you’re ahead, because getting ahead might not be possible, it’s a case of realising that you’re losing, and the only way you’re going to come out a winner is to let yourself get out. Do it for you, not to get ahead, or to give up, but to stay happy. If you’re sad, something needs to change. If you’re anxious, something needs to change. Until you are happy, you need to look at yourself and ask: What do you want?
I matter, you matter, we all matter, albeit in different ways and in different circumstances. You need to find that point where you know you can be peaceful; smile despite the pain that you felt, or even caused, to get there. It’s not selfish; it’s simply looking out for yourself.
I write poetry to cope with my anxiety. I talk to my anxiety and try to understand it as well as deal with it. I don’t let it get to me anymore. I rise above the pain and try to create something I can be proud of. It has shaped me into the person I am today, and when I think of my lowest points I am thankful for them. I’m thankful for everything that went wrong, and everything that went right, because if they hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be here, writing these words now.
I am a good person, I am a storyteller, I am a poet.
I have friends, I have words, I have anxiety.
I have mindfulness and clarity of thought; I have peace.
Right now, I am exactly where I am, and always was, meant to be.
Jade K. Moore
EDITOR’S NOTE: Hi, it’s Memee. Jade was offered the opportunity to guest blog on my site when she won the Love’n Hate Poetry Challenge I held last month. The challenge truly inspired her and out of it came An Open Letter which personified her anxiety allowing her to recognize the growth that her disorder has gifted her which inspired her even further, prompting her to create a project entitled, Letters to the Mind blog. A blog where every one can submit creative expressions of our mental health struggles and triumphs. I am proud to be affiliated with the project as an editor and contributor on the site. I hope you will join me in participating in this brand-new, much needed, project. So, please, help spread the news. Non-bloggers and family members impacted by mental illness are encouraged to participate as well!
To read, follow or join Letters to the Mind project click here.