For those of you with an Anxiety disorder, how do others describe you?
You may have heard the terms “Inflexible”, “Dramatic”, “Anti-Social”, or even “Neurotic” in your lifetime. What people don’t realise is that you have an Anxiety disorder.
Yes, we all get anxious from time to time.
Whether it be:
– Going for a job interview
– Making a public speech in front of your co-workers
– Accidentally ending up in the middle of a break dancing circle with the wide eyed crowd waiting for the performance of a lifetime
We all get anxious.
The difference is, those with Anxiety disorders cannot control their Fight or Flight response. This response is forever turned to the “on” position. At least for me it is. Our level of coping skills tend to be slim to nil, if that.
There is no set explanation as to why we have this Anxiety disorder. For some (like me) it is a chemical imbalance which I will have to live with and work through for the rest of my life.
Others, it may be related to trauma, lifestyle, stress, or even to other mental health issues.
The point is, we are fighting an enormous battle that most people can’t even begin to imagine. We have all the same dramas and problems as everyone else PLUS a rather large dose of “The world is ending” mentality.
For those who have not been blessed with the gift of Anxiety, allow me to explain what is really happening in our mind and bodies.
WARNING: S**t’s about to get real
FRAME OF MIND
Attempting to explain an anxious mind is like trying to order and catalogue every single cell in the human body. I’m no biologist but I think that would be a tad tricky.
I am going to try my absolute best to explain this however, minds are uniquely complex in the way they work. This may not relate to everyone, but at least this is how I see things.
You have a lot of thoughts in your head
I?m not talking about making mental grocery lists or pondering your personal hygiene habits (swimming in the ocean counts as bathing, right?).
I guarantee you, if I am having a conversation, there are at least 20 different thoughts racing through my mind in that same moment. Not just any regular thoughts though – that just indicates boredom.
I’m talking one thought, from another, to another and so on.
It’s as if a tiny little micro being is sitting right by your ear, whispering in an angelic tone “But what if?”.
This little demon also likes to play the ?Did I? game.
Excessive worry is the root of all anxious thoughts, which can lead to paranoia. Our minds are calculating everything that could possible go wrong, that we see everything and anything as a potential threat.
We try to avoid anything that could trigger our anxiety, and yet we are actually feeding the beast.
We become obsessive in this line of thinking. We can’t let go because what if these things actually happen and we haven’t thought of a solution yet?
This form of behaviour leads me to my next point.
You have a form (or even a slight variation) of OCD
In your mind, you find it really hard to believe that people genuinely like you because how could it possibly be true? Anxiety beats you down on your largest insecurities, mostly relating to your own self worth.
This is where you believe you have to be perfect in order for everyone to like you.
I didn’t say that anxiety was logical.
If you make even the tiniest mistake, or things don’t go according to the plan, then your life is ruined. You might as well scoff an entire pizza under the bed covers and never leave your room again.
Because you are so obsessive over this, you NEVER give yourself a break. You beat yourself to the cold gravelled ground again and again, punishing yourself for not anticipating the danger (in this case, the negative outcome).
The only way to feel like you can beat this, is by preparing for every stressful situation you can think of.
It is for this reason that your mental capacity is running on 1000%. All. The. Time. You worry about every tiny little detail and what outcome could arise from it.
Fear of the unknown.
A common strategy we use to “prevent” total and utter chaos is to try and control absolutely everything!
P.s. It doesn’t work.
Due to all of these wonderful thoughts and feelings, your body will start to show symptoms too.
I know I said earlier I am not a biologist, but I am also not a doctor. Probably should have lead with that.
I’d hate to think anyone was taking advice from me, especially after reading the “common thoughts” section.
I can only tell you my own experience and here are some fun common physical symptoms of having anxiety
As you can tell from my website name, I have described it as Anxious Butterflies. For me, it is more of a vice-like grip on my stomach that is always there and never goes away.
Some days it is a little looser and I can get through the day. Others, I can hardly breathe. I am a self diagnosed shallow breather, which is impressive as I am incredibly loud and talkative.
I believe it is due to this form of intestinal strangulation.
Repeat: Not a doctor.
Although my sister is a nurse – does that count?
Another way to describe it is when you get that feeling when you are rocking back on a chair and it is about to tip over.
You get a jolting sensation in your gut and it almost makes you feel sick, excited, nervous, and stressed all at the same time.
When it passes, you feel so relieved that you thank baby Jesus you didn’t fall over in front of that cute guy in your maths class.
Imagine having that, but it never truly goes away. I have read somewhere that your gut has some form of second brain and can tell if you are anxious or stressed before your mind can.
This makes sense to me as anti-depressant medication can make your mind clearer and less burdened, but you still get the anxious gut feeling.
IBS: Irritable Bowel Syndrome
If your stomach is in constant knots, it is bound to have an affect on your bathroom habits. Within a week, you can go from normal, to blocked, to running like a faucet (you’re welcome for the visuals).
The amount of times people have asked me why i am so sweaty…
I feel like shouting “I’m an anxious wreck right now, thank you sooo much for pointing this out in front of everyone, really helps with the anxiety?” [insert two thumbs up].
I’m not sure on the biological standpoint (clearly) but I do know that stress sweat and normal sweat are different. I think it’s to do with the Fight or Flight response. I’m not sure – somebody Google it please.
Did you really think that anxious thoughts respected bed time?
[insert maniacal laugh]
For years, it would take me at least 2 hours to fall asleep each night.
“Why” do you ask? Because I am busy analysing every thought I’ve had that day. Every situation I was involved in. Followed by a kick-ass slideshow of all the mistakes and regrets I’ve made in my entire life.
I also dabble in the art of envisioning everything that could go wrong in my life. From burning my toast, to an asteroid obliterating the earth. Then, I must come up with a solution for each and every item.
Can you guess I am not a morning person?
Anxiety tears your energy into shreds. You are so exhausted every single day because of all these issues.
Lets take a minute to ponder how someone can function with all of the thoughts, emotions, bathroom troubles, and sleep deprivation caused by Anxiety. How exhausted, irritable, and fragile they are.
Now, I’d like you to think about someone you know with Anxiety and the times they have broken under an invisible pressure. They may have snapped, yelled, or even fallen apart in front of you.
Does the pressure seem invisible now?
I’ll let thank sink in for a moment.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Okay, I think I have waffled on sufficiently. I hope I have shed some light onto the mind and body of the anxious person.
The takeaway here is that an anxious person is always in that Fight or Flight mode, and expects chaos to hit them at any given moment.
You recite mind scenarios to help combat the lurking danger whilst going to the bathroom for the 100th time that day.
For those of you who know a friend, co-worker, or loved one struggling with Anxiety, I want you to remember they are fighting a battle within themselves.
Yes, they may seem irrational, dramatic, and on the edge.
But they need your support.
“How” you ask? Acknowledge to yourself that they are not coping. Be patient, understanding, and their support person if need be.
Such a simple act of kindness will mean the world of difference. Even if it doesn’t show, they will be grateful to have you there.
I plan on creating a blog series centred around Anxiety.
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Have a lovely day,