When I saw that Spink was looking for bloggers to share their stories about dealing with anxiety I was more than happy to write a post about it. There is still so much stigma attached to mental illnesses and i do feel that it is important that we share our experiences and try our best to do our bit to educate people on what its like to deal with it on a daily basis.
Experiencing anxiety about something and suffering from anxiety are two totally different things and people do tend to confuse the two or put them in the same category.Everybody feels anxious or nervous about one thing or another and some point in their lives but suffering from anxiety is a daily struggle.
How is anxiety different to stress?
Stress is usually used to describe the feelings people experience when the demands made on them are greater than their ability to manage. For example, if you have an interview for a job it is perfectly normal to feel a bit stressed about the process. Another example could be dealing with financial problems. Generally, the cause of stress is very clear cut, but anxiety is an unease about something with an uncertain outcome – and that unease can exist even when the cause of the worry is gone.
Anxiety is the anticipation of a threat often in the absence of an evidence to suggest that there is a present threat, which can make it feel particularly distressing. The core symptoms of anxiety are feelings of apprehension, uncertainty, and worry.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety by definition is “A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome”. It’s perfectly normal to feel anxious occasionally, but for many anxiety can occur regularly, for no apparent reason. The most frustrating thing about it is that if you are aware that you suffer from anxiety you know learn to notice the triggers and even when they rear their ugly heads it is not always so easy to stop those feelings and thoughts taking over.
Women are almost twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders , and some recent research also suggests it most commonly affects the under 35’s
Symptoms can be both psychological and physical, and may encompass one or a number of symptoms.
Possible symptoms of anxiety include;
Poor concentration, Insomnia caused by a racing mind, Fear of losing control, Spinning thoughts, Dread, Tension, Irritability, Feelings of restlessness andAgitation
Headaches, Nausea,Stomach upsets, Muscle tension ,Racing heartbeat , Sweating , Dry Mouth, Tinnitus and Reduced libido
Long term, the quality of life, relationships, health and wellbeing of someone experiencing anxiety can be greatly affected, so it’s important to spot the signs. The symptoms occur are different in everyone and not all people will deal with their anxiety in the same way.
Opening up about mental illness can be difficult. You never know how someone is going to react and with someone like me the worst case scenario plays over in my head a thousand times , which makes me want to just shut down and shut everyone out.
As I said before not everyone will deal with their anxiety in the same way so but I am just here to tell you what works for me and hopefully some of it may help you or someone you know.
On my worst days I am hit with a combination of what I call the heavy hitters, headaches, restlessness and dread. Dread is the worst feeling I have experienced. It is hard to describe.. the only way I can describe it is.. it feels like my heart is sinking and it hurts because my mind is racing thinking of the worse case scenario. In my head the worst possible outcomes are being played over and over and I have this feeling of helplessness.. If this worse case scenario happened how would I cope, what would I do?. Now my logical side is trying to break through here and bring me back to reality to focus on the present, to be in the moment and take it step by step. (coping mechanism/tip number 1) . This isn’t easy to do by any means, it has taken a long time to figure out how to do and it doesn’t always work but that is why I have my other strategies.
Everyday I get up ( if I have slept) and the first fight of the day is to actually leave my apartment. I don’t like thinking of anxiety or depression as just a chemical imbalance, something I cannot see because that just overwhelms me. I automatically default to a state where I think it isn’t something I can control and that is when I spiral. So for me it is better to think of the two as “beings”. I know it may sound counter productive to some but let me explain…
I love martial arts.. I used to do Thai Boxing and if I see my anxiety as a “being” that I can fight and I can visualize that it makes it easier for me to cope. I am a very visual and animated person so for me I need to see things and do things for it to sink in and have more of an effect. If anxiety turns up in a morning and I feel that she is trying to stop me from doing what I want to do.. I just imagine giving her a big right hook as I leave the house.
My anxiety levels are high at the moment because I am taking my first ever trip to London, on my own on Friday. Never been to London, Never traveled that far completely alone, never had to arrange everything myself. I automatically thought worse case scenario,.. typical me.. worried about getting mugged, losing my purse, not getting to the conference on time, missing my bus to London or home. These thoughts have been picking away at my brain since i decided to go over a month ago. I have been getting really bad headaches, not sleeping, having weird dreams when I do sleep, waking up at stupid times and constantly feeling mentally exhausted.
I know what you are thinking.. WHY THE HELL ARE YOU STILL GOING THEN??.. The simple answer is because I want to! One of the hardest things to figure out when you have anxiety is why you decide not to do something… Another coping strategy I have is when I agree to go somewhere or do something and feel like i need to cancel or bail I sit down and actually think about whether I really want to go or not.
The big question is are you cancelling because you just don’t want to go or are you cancelling because you are struggling to cope with your anxiety surrounding the event?
I haven’t cancelled because I genuinely am also excited to go and meet the people I have met through blogging. BlogCon is going to be a great place to mingle and create actual bonds with people face to face in a social setting and even though I am uncomfortable with that at the moment I know I will feel better for going and THAT is something to remember!
I also practice mindfulness techniques as often as possible. I recommend the app Headspace it really is a great tool that i use to help me focus.
One thing I would like to stress above all else is talking. Find someone you feel comfortable sharing things with and just keep those lines of communication open. Don’t expect to have a handle on things all the time. Acknowledge that some days will just be bad days, we all have them, you are only human after all.
Figure out what your triggers are and what works best for you in dealing with your anxiety Don’t beat yourself up if you have a Not Okay day there is always tomorrow.
I am no expert on the matter and my tips wont work for everyone but I hope some of the will.
Stay strong my lovelies 🙂 Take one day at a time and #livelifeready
Be Kind, Be Happy and Stay True to You!