My Anxiety & Me
From the outside, I am confident, I have a great job, great family and friends, but underneath is a very different story altogether. My name is Darragh and for the past 20 years I have been tackling the crippling effects of anxiety.
I was a pretty shy kid, but always happy-go-lucky. I was full of energy, but always a little different to everyone else. I remember my first wave of anxiety, sitting at the top of the class, the teacher said I must never play rounders’ with the girls again, that I was sissy and go play with the boys. All eyes were on me, judging and laughing, I never felt so alone. At age 10, I just wanted the floor to swallow me up.
This was only the start of it.
When I started secondary school, those differences to the other kids were magnified, highlighted and ridiculed. It began small mocking how I spoke, laughing at my interests and my appearance.
But then I started to hear the word gay, queer, puff… I couldn’t fight back, I said nothing, how could I? They were right! I was gay, I did dislike football, I was spotty, I was awkward. I agreed with what they were saying, so how could I possibly fight back? I lost my voice, my strength, my courage.
When I went on to college, my peers no longer bullied me, instead I did. My own thoughts more cutting than anything I heard in the school yard. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. I hid my face when out in public. It lead to persistent panic attacks. I hated socializing in pubs and when I did, I used alcohol to numb that internal voice, the negativity, the anxiety – however fleeting the silence.
My turning point
One day in my early 20’s, when visiting home, my mum turned to me and asked “are you okay?” I had reached my limit, my heart couldn’t take it any longer and something had to give. I just broke down in front of her. I wept and wept, I opened up, told mum everything. She put her arms around me, rang a GP and brought me straight to him.
The thing is, I didn’t know I was suffering from anxiety, extreme low self-worth and depression. I put all my focus on fixing the outside, my appearance, unable to cope with the internal turmoil. But I got the help I needed. I spoke to a therapist and he helped me retrain my mind with CBT.
The ceiling was lifted, my confidence grew, I came out, no one disowned me, slowly I started to heal inside and start accepting myself, flaws and all. This took years and to be honest I am still healing.
My anxiety is not as severe as it was before, but it’s still there. For me it is the judgment. I make the assumption people are thinking negatively of me, but I have learned to manage these thoughts. I can breathe, let the thoughts flow in and out, not giving anxiety the power.
Something that works for me when managing these feelings is meditation. I have incorporated into my daily life and I haven’t looked back. It has helped me heal the pain, become more comfortable in my own skin, to accept and love myself.
The only advice I can give anyone who is suffering from anxiety, depression, low self-worth, suicidal thoughts is to please reach out and tell someone how you are feeling. You are not alone. Asking for help is not a weakness, but such an unbelievable act of courage.
- Darragh O'Boyle
If you would like to talk to peers about your mood and your experience with depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder - Aware Support & Self Care Groups have no waiting lists, no queues, they're free of charge and they take place weekly in locations all over the country. You can share as much or as little as you would like in an open, non-judgemental environment. Find out more>>>