Life

This is what happened when I told my friend I had anxiety

In partnership with
Lloyds Bank

Opening up about mental illness isn’t always easy. But it can make all the difference – as Sarah, 31, found out…

My anxiety manifested over time. It was like being in a really messy room and not knowing where to begin to make it tidy. That’s how I felt inside; my head was the messy room. 

I couldn’t concentrate on anything and it took me ages to get menial, mundane, little things done – like invoices and sending emails. That’s where it started.

At the time it started to really surface, my dad was really ill. I was working both as an exam invigilator for children with special educational needs and part-time as an actor after doing a degree in theatre a few years before. 

So I had an unwell parent, I was going to auditions, I was sorting out school schedules, I still had a house to run and the gravity of the situation just started to shut me down.

I wasn’t turning up to things on time, not sending auditions off – even the build-up of my washing pile at home was ridiculous. The only thing I stayed true to were the schoolkids.  

It took me a good while to tell my best friend. She kept asking me to come out and there were about about five occasions I agreed and then cancelled – we even had a fallout about it. 

I began to lie about why I couldn’t make it – I was telling her I couldn’t meet up because I was too busy when actually I was just sat in bed in the same place all day. 

There was one occasion when I got dressed, had my bag ready to go at the front door, but still couldn’t bring myself to leave. 

It was then that I called her and said I was too nervous to leave the house. She asked if I was OK and I said, “No, I don’t think I am.”

She told me that while she might be qualified in the world of friendship, I’d probably benefit from talking to a counsellor. 

I didn’t really want to go and talk to someone about my feelings, but she explained that I didn’t have to – that I could just explain it the way I’d explained to her. 

Even though she’d just had a baby she said she’d come with me if I was nervous, which I can’t thank her enough for – not many people would do that just after giving birth.

So I made the phone call. After that conversation with her I started to look for some real answers about what I was feeling. 

It was the first time I thought, “Oh my god, I actually do suffer from anxiety.” That was the first step to getting better.   

Now I feel way more comfortable talking to people about it. 

Opening up doesn’t mean your problems go out of the window – you have good days and bad days. But the fact that I know what’s going on has given me enough clarity to know when I’m feeling anxious and how to work through it.

I’m so grateful I had a friend to say, “You should talk to somebody” – and I’m grateful to myself for actually listening and doing something about it. 

A lot of people – myself included, initially – don’t want to do it because of the stigma. 

But if you don’t open up, the bigger and heavier it all gets. 

Even if it’s only a tiny alleyway they can sidestep down, let someone in. 

It’s the best thing to ever happen to me. 

#GetTheInsideOut

Lloyds Bank is working with Mental Health UK to help end the silence and stigma surrounding mental health, encouraging us all to #GetTheInsideOut.

To find out more visit lloydsbank.com/getttheinsideout