Janine, 45

This is me:

I’m 45 years old, I've been happily married for 12 years and I have a 10 year old son.  
On the outside, I have the picture-perfect life. 
My husband and I don’t want for much; we’re by no means wealthy but we both earn well, we go abroad about twice a year and we socialise and go out often. 
I work as an EA to the CEO of a FTSE top 250 company. I’m super organised, I get things done, I don’t suffer fools gladly and I say it as it is. I‘m South African after all!!
But, yes, I think it’s true that I’m really good at what I do and I love my job. I don’t mind saying that.
My friends describe me as a real go-getter – a doer – somebody you can rely on and who gets up and gets things done. 
Confident. Happy. Good marriage. 

This is the me you don't see:

I am always anxious. 
Did I do that the right way?  Why are they talking about me?  Maybe I shouldn’t have said that. Now what do I do – what if they don’t like me? 
And my husband; why is he irritating me so much?
I really don’t think I love him – I don’t know if I have ever loved anybody.  
Marriage is extremely hard when you don’t love yourself or understand what is going on. 

I am a hard and horrible Mum, always shouting at my son. 
And I hate, hate the house being disorganised and a mess. I have to clean, clean all the time. I think during the day, and worry at night. 

I worry about everything and anything. 
I am scared.  Scared of getting up.  Scared of showering. 
And the depression.  Feeling like tomorrow I might be lucky and die.  I sometimes envy people who have cancer; I think they are lucky, because they might die. 
Life – living - is hard. 

Nobody sees this side of me – I have taught myself so many coping techniques that I’ve learnt to live like this. 
Isn’t this normal?
So every day, in everything I do, I pretend. 
I pretend to cope.  I pretend I know what I’m doing and I love what I am doing.  It has become second nature – I just get on with things. 
Medication helps.  Exercise is a life-saver and research and talking about anxiety over the last 16 years has helped a lot too.

Sharing my story on Headcase has helped me – and I hope will help a lot of other people too.


Liz Fraser