Anxiety disorders are not easy to diagnose.
This is because the experience can be different for everyone. Plus, other mental health issues may cloud or even mask Anxiety.
I don’t always believe in textbook diagnosing (reminder: I’m not a Doctor) but there are indications that could potentially point to someone having an Anxiety disorder.
In my previous blog, I already mentioned the following symptoms:
I now want to dig a little further and reveal other signs and symptoms that I have experienced.
Physical Symptoms and Habits
To be honest, I didn’t realise this was a thing until my medication amplified this symptom. I find myself going about my day, unaware of the pending doom, until suddenly my jaw clenches shut.
It is nearly impossible to loosen. I consider sticking a fork between my teeth and wrenching it open.
“This is it” I think. This is my life now. I’ll have to use charades to interact with others. I’ll sound like a caveman trying to communicate with it’s superior descendants.
A few seconds later, the tension subsides.
It’s particularly frustrating when this occurs during mealtimes – you do not want to see me hangry.
This also happens in my sleep as I often wake up with aching teeth. People have suggested night mouthguards but honestly, I’m afraid I’ll swallow it in my sleep.
Up until recently, I thought indigestion was a regular thing that everyone suffered from.
To me, having indigestion a couple times a week was just the cards I had been dealt.
I could literally eat a carrot stick and still get indigestion.
I was getting to the point where the acid would bubble all the way up to my mouth and I’d have to resist the urge to be sick.
This is not normal!
I have half opened Gaviscon packets scattered everywhere (I even found one in a shoe the other day).
Stress, or Anxiety, can cause the acid in your stomach to build up and cause indigestion. And no, I didn’t self diagnose this time – my doctor told me.
Yes, I know this is a filthy habit but let me explain!
Due to my little friend called “perfectionism”, I feel the need to constantly bite, chew, and pick at the skin around my nails.
Disgusting, I know.
Why do I do this? Because my nails don’t look perfect unless I “groom them”. If I am in a stressful situation, at least I can fix the hangnail on my thumb.
I know what you’re all yelling at the screen right now:
“You should go to a proper nail salon!”.
Excuse me but have you SEEN the photos online of the diabolical infections some customers get from there? Plus, every time I have a professional manicure, they are so rough that my nails end up bleeding.
I’ve tried to stop in the past, but I don’t realise I’m doing it half the time.
It is a horrible and painful habit, one that I am yet to break.
Similar to my previous habit, you can also find me biting my lip.
No, not in a Fifty Shades kind of way. There is nothing sexy about a girl chewing the dead skin off her lip, frowning into the distance with her double chin wiggling away.
This is again a habit of perfecting one’s lips.
Oh my God, I am doing it right now as I type this.
I cannot be stopped!
This can be anything from feeling unhappy with life, to losing the capability of functioning from day to day.
Everyone has experienced some form or degree of depression in their lives. It’s when it continues for long periods of times that it becomes a concern.
How is this relevant to Anxiety?
It’s like the old “chicken or the egg” debate.
Which one causes the other? Are they completely separate? Can you treat one and not the other?
Unfortunately, it is hard to spot treat Anxiety or Depression. One can certainly cause the other, or perhaps they exist for the same reason.
For me personally, I believe my Anxiety is the root cause of my Depression. Once I started my anxiety treatment, my depressive outlook was one of the first things to improve.
If you feel you are suffering from either Anxiety or Depression, please speak with your Doctor as they can create a treatment plan right for you.
Whether rational or irrational, phobias are real and should not be made a joke of.
I made the mistake of telling someone I was deathly afraid of spiders, and her response was to throw a large stuffed one at me. Needless to say I had a nervous breakdown and didn’t sleep for days.
Those with Anxiety tend to have perhaps more “irrational” phobias than most, purely due to their state of paranoia.
We start to think of everything that could go wrong, what we should be afraid of, and what negative outcome could arise.
This leads to a state of paranoia, and subsequently the development of phobias.
In our minds, we ponder if our thoughts could actually come true, and so we remain constantly in fear of it.
I’m well aware that there isn’t a spider currently plotting to kill me, but it doesn’t stop me from obsessing about the thought.
*quickly looks over my shoulder*
Interactions with Others
Withdrawn from Social Scenes
You’re getting ready for the social event of the year.
You start styling your hair like Jennifer Aniston, only to end up looking like an unbathed poodle.
You’re filling in your eyebrows. The right one droops slightly lower than the left, as if you’re curiously inspecting a line up of potential murderers.
The dress you want to try on makes you look ugly. In fact, every single item of clothing you own looks ugly.
What will people think of me in this dress? What if my friends don’t come and I don’t know anyone? What if everyone hates me? How do I politely ask to leave? What if I’m not ALLOWED to leave?
You avoid social situations like the plague. One you have gone through this scenario a few times, it is enough to become an introvert and swear off all socialising.
Snapping at People
When you are in a constant state of fear, you become defensive.
Your body is preparing you for the battle of the century, that any little disturbance could release full body combat attack mode.
Maybe your mum suggests that you go for a walk and get some fresh air.
“What are you trying to say? That I don’t get out enough? I’m exhausted from school today, just back off!”
You might also start to cry as you are overly sensitive at this time.
Your loved ones mean well, but you are right on the edge of a freak out that you can’t always control how you respond.
I have been incredibly fortunate not to have experienced a Panic Attack.
I do, however, experience Anxiety Attacks or what I like to call “Anxious Episodes”.
These are not as severe as Panic Attacks, but can feel like you are losing control over everything.
Anxiety attacks are caused by a trigger, such as excessive worrying, and can come about gradually.
Panic attacks usually have no trigger, can happen anywhere or anytime, and you feel like you are literally dying.
When I am having an Anxious Episode, I’ll be running around like a headless chicken, speaking a million miles an hour, and rearing up for the pending explosion in my mind.
Then comes the Freaking the F**k Out phase.
All the constant fears of the unknown and anticipated dangers fester into one large commotion.
Like aliens invading your mind, feeding on your brain, and bringing about a thought apocalypse.
You think the world is coming to an end.
THAT’S how it feels when you have an anxiety episode, you have exploded from the stress of worrying.
Now I know you’re thinking this is overdramatic. But when your mind and body are in fight or flight mode, you cannot be reasoned with.
I can’t speak for everyone else, but I know that I am being unreasonable at the time. However, the excessive thoughts, shortness of breath, and racing heartbeat tend to fog up my mental clarity.
Once, I had my blood pressure taken during an Anxious Episode, and the doctor told me very sternly?
You. Need. To. Calm. Down.
This level of stress can have enormous consequences for your health.
I like to sometimes tell myself ?Calm the f**k down? during an anxious episode. This can work, depending on if I get even more fired up or break down in tears.
Words of Wisdom
One important message I want to get across is that If you have any or all of the symptoms, it doesn’t mean you have an Anxiety disorder.
Don’t go diagnosing yourself (although that’s what an anxious person would do).
I have no medical license whatsoever, so please speak to your Doctor before making any assumptions.
If you are not ready to speak with a Doctor, there are a number of organisations that can help.
You can also choose to remain anonymous.
Just taking that first step to tell someone, anyone, that you need help with your mental health, can be the first stone on your pathway to a better life.
Beyond Blue: www.beyondblue.org.au
R U OK: www.ruok.org.au
I plan on creating a blog series centred around Anxiety.
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Have a lovely day,