Anxiety - my own personal journey


Anxiety - my own personal journey

 | By David Cole | @Physicole

I’m writing this to share my experiences and hope to help other people out who have anxiety.

Currently (1st May 2017), I’m going through a very rough time myself, having a couple of major things happening and finding ways to deal with it again and this time to take more of an action to stop it controlling my life and the people it affects. This may work or may backfire on me but hope it helps.

Firstly lets look at what anxiety is

Anxiety can be defined as a feeling of worry, fear, unease or nervousness about something that has an uncertain outcome.

We all have feelings of anxiety in our lives but for some of us it more intense and hard to control, affecting our daily lives. Anxiety is the main symptom of several conditions but for this piece I will talking about what I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a BITCH!

GAD is a long-term condition that makes you feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event.

We feel anxious most days and often struggle to remember the last day we relaxed. We can resolve one issue and as that is sorted we could have another pop up. Even worse when having quite a few worries at the same time, it can be very overwhelming for ourselves and definitely affects those closet to us.

Psychological symptoms:

Physical symptoms which include:

Sometimes we will not know what triggers our anxiety as it can build up or be sudden. Not knowing what triggers anxiety can intensify and may worry that there is no solution.

My Journey with Anxiety - Childhood

Throughout my own childhood since primary school as any other child I was bullied every single day from what I remember, for being really and having a stammer. I never fought back until near the end of school. It was a bad time there but going to secondary school I thought screw this and turned it around. People tried to bully me and I would fight back. I absolutely hated drama - anything where I had to stand up in front of people I was petrified. Telling teachers to F off a lot in drama. 

The biggest point where my anxiety started the most was when from year 9 from bullied boy to superstar because of the High Jump. Once I was competing and started jumping very high going to the English Schools Champs then girls seemed to notice who I was and I got carried away. At year 10/11 I came down with glandular fever and this screwed it all up. The glandular fever wiped me out big time, I ended up wasting away. I found it very hard to eat and with all the training I came to a point I could not even do a warm up. 

The standard session would be:

I ended up losing muscle and fat to the point I was border line anorexic, if i didn't have the muscle left that I had I would of been well in being anorexic - my body fat was under 5% at 15/16 years old. I looked like I was 40 years old.

I would be training nearly every day after school, competing every weekend across the country from youth league to senior men competitions with some of the best in the country. With the glandular fever and girls I got myself in trouble trying to do everything and it was all too much. I got carried with girls and it was messing with my head big time. I got cocky back then with a couple of girls which looking back I always hated doing. The stress was too much on my body and my head - I lost the plot and didn't want to live anymore, I went to jump in front of a car in front of friends and a girl I really liked - luckily I was pulled back.

This is the major point where it all began:

I came home and mum found me in an absolute state and I told her what happened and I needed help.  I felt absolutely worthless. So we went to the doctors for help and got lots of anti-depressants and got referred to the hospital for counselling. I was depressed at 15/16 years old and a lot of people would say how can a child be depressed at that age, yet it can happen to anyone. There are children all around the world who have been in a lot worse than me who would have been severely affected by horrors that they have faced. Depression can happen to anyone at any time. Playing computer games kept me busy and I really enjoyed doing this which helped me out a lot.

“I really struggled with gaining weight. I just could not get enough food in and with the training I was doing”

After this I found it impossible to eat - I struggled to even eat a bit of toast. It pissed me off big time. I ended up eating what I could and drinking a slimfast after to get the extra calories, vitamins and minerals in. I did not know much about high calorie shakes at that age. My nutrition ended up being lots of fast food to get easy calories in. I didn't care what it was along as I could get it in me.

I was fortunate enough to of been selected and compete for England as with all this I still managed to jump and came second in the National Champs which got me in the team. The competition was great representing my country in Belgium.

For many years after this until the age of 21/22 I really struggled with gaining weight. I just could not get enough food in and with the training I was doing I was not stimulating muscle growth and became susceptible to injuries big time.

There were lots of ups and downs as anyone would have but this was the big one.

College and onwards

After school and when my sessions at the hospital finished I never got CBT or any other form of help to deal with my problems. I was just given tablets and off I went. I never stuck to the tablets as when I felt good I thought I could stop but it may have been one of those things where to stay on them for a long time. Back then I did not understand anything about the effects of exercise on the mind etc. until I did my Personal Training course years later.

As I was at college I wanted to fit in with the nights out and parties with my friends and stupidly drank on the antidepressants which did not react well drinking far past excess. I would make a fool of myself and hindered my progress in weight gain and high jump training with the throwing up. I always stood up for my friends I would jump in the way of them having fights and I fought them for them as my anger was through the roof. Whilst being in that state and the mess I was in for a few years I got angry easily. I believed what people told me as I trusted them and found out I was being cheated on lied to a lot and being let down by those closest to me. Which impacted on the anxiety, finding it hard to trust people, as when I needed help people ran the other way or maybe I could not see if they were helping. 

I was fortunate to of worked whilst at college at my athletics club venue for a few years as a causal member of staff doing lots of various positions - multi skilled as I like to be hands on helping others. Learnt lots of skills and made lots of friends in athletics. It was like a second home after time I needed more work and wanted to gain weight so had to cut back on the athletics, start weight training and focus on earning money. As there is no money in athletics unless I was sponsored. I was able to manage my anxiety over time and I have been able to hide it.

With Prime shutting down this has also affected my anxiety as this was like a home to me all my friends and the members I helped were there, where I also met someone - it was a great place and with it gone my own business got affected and worries about the future kicked in, which put pressure on my relationship, could I afford the rent, will I have the money to take us out and do things, could I afford to buy her things. Worries everywhere.


Throughout my 29 years of living I have had a few girlfriends mostly lasting between 1-2 years. This is where my problems come out and I end up losing people, which always sucked!

I will never say I am perfect! I am human like you all and we all make mistakes in life yet it is what we do with those mistakes.

Overtime my anxiety and fears grew. I always wanted to be a good boyfriend and do the right thing yet my anxiety would take over. With some fears over the years stuck with me. I had been cheated on a few times, lied to a lot. But sometimes when situations arise my anxiety would flair up and I would be thinking of loads of different things in my head that could go wrong, the worst scenarios - because of the past. I have a good memory which sucks!!! After some time and thinking things through I was ok and sometimes worked things out. 

As I went into another relationship I would try not to talk about my irrational thoughts and just try and control my emotions not to upset and hurt the girl or even friends. At the end of the day I would think it’s just thoughts, yet I would still panic and things would build up till I blew. Which happened a few years ago where I thought I was doing the right thing and yet I got myself into a state and had panic attack through months of nonsense.

Over such silly things I would panic, my heart would be racing, shaking, tensing up.

The silly thing has been that I started to fear talking about these thoughts in case the girl would give up with it all and leave. I would worry/fear if I was doing enough, I questioned myself a lot. I never want anyone to stop anything they want to do, as when they do it does not help the anxiety. I have learned that talking it through rationally helps out to understand the situation and I can see it in my head that everything is ok. This also applies to everything else I do. I need to understand what I am doing and then I'm ok. For most people, it is just easy and they can crack on with things - but with Generalised Anxiety Disorder there needs to be a just a little bit more talking. It’s not about control/permission/trust with things. It’s just to understand things working together as a team. 

This also applies with work and friends. When talking things through planning things out then I am able to settle and control what I need to do. Which is why over years with it all,

I really believe that communication is key:

Relationships are all about communication - without it there is not a lot. There are couples who do not talk much to each other about things and they are cool with that - but for us, talking it out helps a lot. seeking reassurance is good once or twice but not all the time as you get sucked into always asking and messing it all up. When people communicate they can achieve a lot together.

Sometimes with anxiety when your in a relationship -

Then your other half or friends may stop telling you things in fear possibly that they will upset/anger you and won't do much and this is not healthy and is unfair on the other person. So it’s important for both sides to talk things through and be able and willing to change things with the other persons support. Always working both ways. 

When you’re in love and have anxiety, though you have irrational thoughts over small things. You may panic more about losing your other half and this is not good either. Over time things should get better if you can communicate but I know you will always have that in the back of your head as you cannot really help it. I believe it is important to talk about how your partner feels even if it may hurt you so you can do what you can for the relationship and help develop yourself for her or him.

If you love someone you will do what you have to for the both of you together.

It is brutal when you do lose someone you love! Your anxiety will play up big time. The way I use to get through it was not being friends so I could focus and get on with it. But then I knew I did not really love them and I was protecting myself. 

I now would take all the pain if it meant the person I loved was happy as that is the person I want to be. My little addiction to Marvel and DC is a contributing factor to that. To be a hero standing in the way to save those closest to you - even as said before taking the pain. (Hero complex) I do not like to give up and I fight for what I believe in and love.

I have seen many people and friends who have been through worse seeing that the people they love have passed on to another world and when I see them I know I will be alright as I see how they are still going strong.

When you have been left by the person you love it feels like someone has died and part of you is gone. You won't be able to help it as this a normal reaction, you will be confused to high hell and won't be able to make sense of it all. In denial that it actually happened wishing things were different. You will look back and blame yourself for everything that could have gone wrong as you will believe deep down that your actions will of caused this to happen. You will believe that your anxiety/fear over things were a big contributor to the loss of the love of your life. You may not think that it because of them as you doubt yourself and wonder if you were even good enough as if you were then why would they leave?

You will cry its natural and normal no matter what age you are looking back at the memories you made. Wishing things could be different.

You will worry yourself big time and for some will be depressed and not be unable eat (which is due to hormones in the body). We need to relax ourselves and get some sense of control back in our lives to get our body working again.

Some Distractions

With my years of having it, it has not been very easy to live with. It will not completely disappear but we will learn to deal and cope with it better. We must be ready to make that change for it to work. We must be ready to want to be better for ourselves so we can have that future we want and one day we may find that someone who will understand us and love us for we are and be able to help each other.

Some of the things I do to help distract me:

I am looking into some extra help to deal with the anxiety at the moment to help with any future relationships I may have. A course to help build up my skills as well.

People will do various things to help them through tough times.

I do not drink much alcohol anymore because of my job as a Personal Trainer and do not want to use it as a source of relief as I know what can happen if getting addicted to it through heartache and pain. I am against the use of hard drugs like cocaine etc. in general so fuck that! This is just dumb when you have anxiety and in general again with my job as a Personal Trainer what type of example is that, ethics are way out of the window then. Drugs can get in the way of a relationship so be careful.

This is a short little write up about bits of my life the major points so far. I hope some of it helps other people out there. I want to be able to help other people and show we are all human and we all will have times of hardship. No one is a machine we all have hearts and we need to start talking about mental health and not hide.

I will always be here to talk to people about their problems always - all people need to do is ask. I’m thinking of doing some free little sessions once a week to start with to help those who do have anxiety get into fitness, by working out and even just chatting if need be.

NEVER GIVE UP - no matter hard things get - do not give up! 

Generalised Anxiety Disorder is a BITCH!


David Cole is a personal trainer working in Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey, UK . Visit his website for more information on his services.