I’m not the type of person that people would think of as being anxious. I work as a teacher and so deal with people on a daily basis. I can take an assembly, chair a staff meeting or give a talk to groups of parents without blinking an eye. I’m confident and chatty. Now on career break I go to two mother and toddler group and a library toddler reading hour. I strike up conversations with mums and dads in the playground and the park. I am sociable.
I am also sitting here dreading the doorbell ringing because I hate answering it. Today I know there is a parcel arriving and someone is coming to fix the timer on the heating and I’ve been stressed about it since yesterday. I have no reason to be. But I am. I don’t think I’m alone in this.
I don’t suffer from any anxiety disorder but here is a list of daily little things that make me anxious.
- Answering the phone. I often let it go to voicemail. If it is a private number I just don’t answer it.
- Making a phonecall. I have to build myself up to do this. Again I am perfectly capable of making phonecalls, I just hate it. When we moved house I cursed every business that didn’t allow me to change address online.
- Answering the door. Again I’ll ignore it if I can, signing for parcels, charity collectors, a neighbour or the delivery guy. If my husband is here I will get him to answer.
- Buses: in particular knowing what the right fare is. Also ticket inspectors, even though I always have a valid ticket.
- Driving somewhere if I don’t know the route, or if I haven’t worked out beforehand where to park when I get there.
- Going to restaurants or pubs when I don’t know where the toilets are.
- Being late. I had a massive row with my husband the last time we went out because going to the bank machine would make us five minutes late for our restaurant reservation. (we live in a pretty chilled out town and I doubt the restaurant even noticed)
- Spiders, I know scan every room I go into for spiders and if there is one i need to watch it constantly so that I know if it moves.
There is a lot of talk in the media at the moment about mental health, about how it is something we should discuss openly and support people. I am lucky enough to be in good mental health at the moment but we all need to be aware that difficulties can hit any of us at any time. There is no-one who could confidently say that they will never experience mental health problems. No one is immune. As my mother-in-law (a former psychiatric nurse) says “We are all hanging by a thread”