Who is Anxious Fran . . ?
I find that the best time to write about my anxiety is when I’m actually anxious.
I need to be somewhere between ‘cool, calm and collected’ (a frame of mind I’ve never really experienced!) and irrational (my state of mind more often than not). As I begin this first piece for my new column on Headcase, my whole body is shaking, my stomach is churning and my mind is dancing between “stop what you are doing and freak out!” and “keep going, you need to share this”.
I am Frances, or ‘Anxious Fran’ as you’ll get to know me. I am 27 years old and have suffered with panic attacks since I was 19, and with ‘Generalised Anxiety Disorder’ (GAD) all my life. I wasn’t actually diagnosed with GAD until I found myself crying uncontrollably at the doctor’s in 2008, but as I’ve had more time to look back on life and reflect on my behaviour as a child I can safely say I have always been “this way”.
I’ve often wondered, Why me? Have I always been this way? Will I get better?
AM I NORMAL?
I’ve never found the answers. What I have found is that accepting yourself, just the way you are, and learning to love every aspect of your personality, allows the negatives and the positives to balance. Sometimes!
I won’t lie; it's pretty hard to find the positives when one is learning to balance out something small, like….having a mental breakdown during adolescence; it’s also not an overnight process. It is, however, a rewarding one.
One thing I’ve realised more recently is that, rather than being weak, I am actually one tough cookie.
There have been times when it would have been easy for me to permit my mental health disorder to consume and control my everyday existence; but it doesn’t. That’s because every day when I get out of bed I make the conscious decision to hold my own, and battle with my subconscious mind so that I can have the quality of life I want and deserve.
Being open about who I am, ‘Anxious Fran’, has lead me to meet the most beautiful people that life has to offer. So I share my story, for better or for worse, with you; so that you know that it’s ok, you are not alone and that (at least) one in five of us face this daily battle.