My anxiety took away my friends

Aly is determined to not let her anxiety define who she is

Written by Aly Walshe


I could write pages about anxiety and how it affects me but we would be here forever. Anxiety is a disorder and is more common than you would think. It manifests itself differently, i.e. to different strengths and with different effects, in each sufferer. For me, it makes many things so much more difficult.

I read something today on social media in a post entitled something like “Things people with anxiety love to hear”, and all of them were so accurate and I realised that I wasn’t alone in how I felt. One of the things that stuck out to me the most was the idea that an anxious person may say they will do something, or go somewhere, with the full intention of doing it but end up bailing at the last minute on many occasions. I do that, a lot.

It’s not that I don’t want to go, it’s the fact that the idea of going out, going outside of my comfort zone, is so overwhelming that I would prefer to hide away in the safety of my own home. This resulted in me leaving secondary school with no friends, because my friends thought I just didn’t want to go out with them, and I was too afraid to admit the truth. I was sick.

I’m in my second year of college now and I’m doing quite well, because I decided when I went to college that any friends I made were going to be told, up front that this is how I am. To my pleasant surprise, nine times out of ten, people are understanding.

As I stated, anxiety manifests itself in different ways for everyone so I cannot speak for anyone else when I say that anxiety is a big factor in everyday life, but it doesn’t define me. I am not anxious 24/7, jumping at any little thing that pops out at me.

I get anxious when overwhelmed with an enormous amount of things, resulting in a total meltdown. I get anxious when I’m not in control, when life seems to be running away on me. People with anxiety are just like anyone else, but just have different tolerances and different reactions to things.

In the past few years, I found strength in the campaigns run by Bressie(Niall Breslin). The reason I believe he has helped me so much is that he appears like just another person. He’s not Bressie from the tv, or from the band, he’s Bressie from Mullingar and he has problems just like we do.  He is honest, and promotes honesty. People who are suffering internally need to talk, and he encourages that because he makes it such a normal thing. He encourages us to fight, and he even shows us how to. We need more people like Bressie, and we need more people to listen to Bressie!

Before this starts sounding like a plug for Bressie, I’ll end it with the most important message I feel I have. If you are suffering, even in the slightest, talk to someone. Even start with your pet! The first step towards making progress is to voice how you’re feeling, and if that’s sitting in your room with your pet, it’s a start.

I talk to my dog all the time, because she always listens and she’s never going to judge. The reality is, most people are like my dog, they will listen and they won’t judge you. They may even be feeling the same. I’ve gotten to the stage now where I can tell people all about my anxiety and depression without even flinching because I have realised that it is nothing to be ashamed of. 

I can do that now, because I started by telling someone. You can’t do it alone, and people will help. Whether it is your dog, cat, parent, friend or someone on the internet, voice your feelings and I promise you, you’ll be making incredible progress in no time.  

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