A lecturer who suffered from acute anxiety said it was an “invisible force” that prevented him from living his day-to-day life.

Connor Howard, 26, felt isolated when he moved to St Albans in 2018. New surroundings, a new job and a new-born child left him housebound as he was resulted in staying housebound as he was overwhelmed and housebound.

Anxiety was not something new for Mr Howard, as he recalls his anxiety taking over moments of his life for “years and years”, but without a support network which he could feel comfortable in, it was at its worst due to many aspects of his life changing.

While he found comfort in hiding from his problems at home, even his wife shared a similar anxiousness and issues of depression, which only worsened when placed in the new environment.

Mr Howard said: “There’s a big difference when you have everyone around you to nothing. It was difficult because my wife struggled more than me at times – I was able to still go to work, so I tried to keep her busy and going to baby groups.

“The anxiety – it causes me to overthink a lot of things. You convince yourself the worst scenario is going to happen. At the worst of times you get ready for work and feel this invisible force trying to stop you from going. It’s hard to pinpoint what it is.”

“If there was a trigger, it would be easier to try avoid it, but there is no trigger.”

Bridgestone helped Connor and others overcome their anxiety

In the moment, the lecturer Mr Howard would get caught up in his emotions and overthink a situation, but he acknowledges that sometimes he would look back once he’s calmed down and realised, he overreacted.

It was a reoccurring issue since he was younger and he assumed that when he felt bad for “no reason”, that it was a natural stage of being a teenager.

It was when he signed up to tyre company and sports sponsor Bridgestone's Everyday Battlers campaign that things began to change.

He added: “It was going on for a long time in my life, I didn’t give it a name and I didn’t look more into it until I signed up to Bridgestone.”

St Albans & Harpenden Review:

Connor started to train for the 10km run with the help of Bridgestone. © Sam Mellish Photo

With the help of Bridgestone, an Olympic and Paralympic world partner, Mr Howard received therapy and counselling to help deal with his anxiety.

Bridgestone also encouraged Mr Howard and eight other people to take part in a 10km run at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on September 21 for the campaign, which was launched in May.

The training became a “driving force” for Mr Howard to leave the house, meet his newly found friends with the other runners and to have a goal in life.

He said taking part was important not just for his anxiety, but so he can become a good role model for his child.

A 2016 gold medalist, Chris Mears, and performance psychologist Professor Greg Whyte, helped push the participants to prepare themselves for the 10km run.

St Albans & Harpenden Review:

A team picture of the participants and Greg Whyte. © Sam Mellish Photo

After completing the run, Mr Howard said: “It has been one of the best experiences of my life. I have never done anything like this before, but I’m proud to have completed the challenge. After each jog I have felt so much better. I’ve found new levels of confidence through this challenge which I never thought I had.”

Fortunately, with Mr Howard feeling in a better place, his wife is also receiving help through social work and attending baby groups.

Anxiety is something he knows he cannot remove completely from his life, but he points out that to think about it constantly is unhealthy. Instead he has decided to cope with his anxiety by just working with it instead of complaining about it.