I misplaced my debit card today. It was fine in the end- I'd just left it in the supermarket yesterday, and it was returned to me by kindly Geordies (98% of Geordies are kindly, I've decided).
A year ago I'd have been in a panic. My stomach would have been churning all the way to the supermarket once I'd realised that I'd lost the card. I'd have been struggling to breath, quite possibly, and entirely unable to focus on anything other than the fact that I'd lost something crucially important and needed to find it again.
This, of course, would have been an extreme reaction, but it gets worse when you consider that the above set of symptoms, together with several others, didn't just apply to relatively serious situations like this, but to almost every situation I found myself in, from going to work each day to meeting up with friends. Having anxiety means that you have a constant litany of potential disasters running through your mind at any given moment, and there's no real way of logicing yourself out of them. So when I used to get up and go to work, it'd be 'OhnoIhavetogotoworkbybikeI'llprobablycrashorgetrunoverandifIgettoworkpeoplewillshoutatmeandI'llmakeanidiotofmyself'. Telling me not to worry in that scenario (while well-meaning) was about as useful as telling me to grow an extra leg.
Anxiety often comes with a side helping of depression, but I've found several major differences between the two, an important one being that anxiety is caring lots and lots, and depression is caring hardly at all. Another one is that in terms of social stigma, people tend to understand that a person and their depression can be entirely different things. Anyone can be hit by depression, and I think this is something that's increasingly accepted. Anxiety's a different matter, though- it's seen generally as something that mainly affects very reserved young women. As a very reserved young woman, this is problematic for me. I sometimes don't know where the anxiety stops and the Katie begins, because I've had anxiety for longer than I've had depression. For most of my childhood years, I didn't even realise it. Anxiety was hugely useful to me in my early teens. I never worked hard at school because I wanted to do well- I worked hard because I didn't want to fail, or rather because I was terrified of failure. This subtle distinction didn't make any difference to anyone but me, because the results (a collections of GCSEs and A-levels at A and B grades) were the same. But then I got a job where I was put under a lot of pressure to succeed, but where I didn't have control over all the elements that were essential to said success. Translator delivers late? Not my fault, but still my problem. And thus I had a bundle of anxiety with nowhere to go, and nothing to show for it, and thus insanity ensued.
This brings me fairly neatly onto my main point of why it's so important to get help for anxiety. If I'd have got help sooner, I wouldn't have had to have pretty much written off my late teens. I'd have developed some kind of interesting personality in this time, rather than reaching 24 and being all like 'O lol who am I again? I forgot'. It's a bit of a milestone once you've realised that no, you can't really go on this way, and the years you lose to untreated mental illness aren't somehow magically returned to you.
Obviously pills don't automatically make everything better, but they help, a lot. When I lost this debit card, I had one of those logical thought processes that sane people keep talking about. 'I'll check the supermarket, and if it's not there, I'll contact my bank and ask them to cancel the old one and send me a new one. In the meantime, I can ask someone to lend me money', No drama, no anxiety.

NB- this is a (shoddy?) attempt at grown-up proper blogging. It was going to be more of my usual 'o lol I lost my debit card, I so stupid lol', but I decided to risk writing something a bit different.