Living With Anxiety.

Living With Anxiety

Let's talk mental health...

My anxiety disorder isn't something I speak about very often, but it's something I've lived with for as long as I can remember. I was always such a shy and timid little thing when I was a child, and as I got older it just got worse. I always put it down to me just being a naturally shy person and not having much confidence, all the way through college and even throughout my first couple of years at uni. It was when my sister finally got diagnosed with anxiety that it hit home that I it might be something I was suffering with too. I suddenly realised that actually no, it's not normal to have panic attacks and constantly feel like I was going to throw up over small things like attending my uni lectures in the morning. It wasn't normal that I felt I had to lie about feeling ill just so I could stay in my room and calm myself down rather than make myself sick by forcing myself to go into uni. Those things weren't just me lacking in confidence surely? I realised that it was a mental illness and something out of my control, and that's when I finally went to see a doctor about it, got diagnosed and put on medication. I already knew that I suffered from depression and in a way my anxiety and depression were linked (which I believe is quite common, as there is a scientific link between the two) because I think it was the constantly being anxious about everything that made me feel depressed. I haven't suffered with depression in a long time thankfully, I put that down to having Reuben as the last time I was in a really bad place was before he was born and I've had it under control ever since. I can't say the same for my anxiety unfortunately, I think that's something I'm always going to have to live with but there are little ways that I try and deal with it to keep it under some control.

 

Today I just want to chat about the different ways in which anxiety affects me, and how I try and control it - not for sympathy, but because I feel like so many people don't even realise they have it and it needs to be spoken about more. I think it's so important to talk, and to create awareness around mental health. If there had been more awareness surrounding anxiety disorders six or so years ago, then it might have clicked that I was suffering from it rather than being in the dark about it for so long, you know? I have only been aware that I've got anxiety for about three years, which is ridiculous when in reality I have been suffering with it for at least nine or ten?! It's such an awful mental illness to live with and I really hope this post gives someone a little bit of help in some way, whether that be discovering that you have the symptoms to seek some help, or to try and keep it under a bit more control. Or even just to stop you feeling like you're alone, I know through my own experience that talking to other people who have anxiety has helped me so, so much and I would love to help anyone I can in the same way.

Suffering With Anxiety

The physical effects...

Whilst anxiety is a mental health disorder, it doesn't just effect you mentally, it can affect you physically. Panic attacks are one of the most common side effects to anxiety disorders, but when I used to think of panic attacks, I thought a panic attack was simply struggling to breathe and passing out. This really isn't the case at all, panic attacks come in so many different forms. For me personally, I start to feel so sick that I can't eat or think straight, and I genuinely feel like I'm going to throw up until it passes. I also start to feel hot and sweat like mad, and I get diarrhoea, which as you can imagine isn't very nice at all. I think some people quite literally throw up, but for me it comes out the other end, brilliant. My stomach is just horrendous when I'm anxious, even the thought of food has me feeling like I'm going to vom. I've also had panic attacks where I've felt like I can't breathe and the room has just spun around me so I physically could not stand up at all. If I'm extremely anxious, my whole body actually shakes too. When I was at uni, we had to do group presentations and they used to make me feel horribly anxious to the point where I was stood doing mine with my leg quite literally vibrating. If you think feeling anxious as hell isn't bad enough - how embarrassing is that?! It made me feel even worse. It's so important not to let anyone put down your anxiety and how your body reacts when you're having a panic attack as there is no set way to have one, none of us are the same, we all have different bodies that react in different ways. If you think something isn't right, then the chances are that it isn't. You know your body better than anyone else, and it's really important that you seek the help that you may need in order to take care of yourself and your body - mentally and physically.

 

The irrational fears...

I think one of the worst parts of having an anxiety disorder is the constant irrational fears. For me, it's mostly losing family members. I have nightmares quite often about losing my family, which is something nobody wants to go through, and it's just horrible having those thoughts constantly. You know those nightmares that feel like real life? I have so many of them. In particular I'm extremely anxious when it comes to Reuben, which is no surprise as he's the most important person in my life. I feel anxious every time he eats a new food for the first time, as I have such a fear that he will choke to death and I have no idea why?! I know it's natural as a mother to worry about your child or have a fear of losing them, but I have anxious thoughts about things that might happen to Reuben all of the time. I can't stand it, how is that a nice way to live your life? But it's something I just can't control. Whilst these fears aren't necessary, it doesn't make them any less real and nobody has the right to tell you that you're silly for having them. I can't even being to imagine what life is like for those who suffer with anxiety and have actually lost someone close to them. SunLife have some really helpful information and advice on this if you need it.

 

The frustration...

One of the most frustrating parts about having an anxiety disorder, is that I will quite often feel extremely anxious about something and not understand why. It can be something that doesn't make me feel nervous or bother me in the slightest, yet it has my body almost punishing me for doing it, if that makes sense? Like for example, I can have a doctors appointment, at a doctors I've been to a million times before and it can be about the smallest thing like getting a new prescription for my eczema. And I will spend all morning before the appointment feeling anxious, even though there's absolutely nothing bothering me about going. I just feel so frustrated at why my body is reacting in that way as it makes no logical sense?! And it really shows that having anxiety is a genuine illness out of my control, it isn't triggered by anything specific and it can affect me at any time without any warning signs.

 

Coping with anxiety...

There are lots of different ways in which you can try and keep an anxiety disorder under control. There's so many coping methods out there too, but they aren't necessarily going to work for everyone as everyone's symptoms are different. It doesn't mean that you can't be helped, it just means you may have to search a bit harder for the coping mechanism that you need. Some of the ways in which I cope with my anxiety include lots of self care and taking the time to look after my mind and my body when it needs it. Life is short and I believe that we should spend it doing everything we can to be happy, so if that means pushing something aside to take some much needed time out then so be it. I love putting aside my work and taking an entire day to go out somewhere with Reuben, whether that be a road trip, out into the country, a day of shopping, whatever. It makes me forget about all my problems and leaves me feeling so relaxed and refreshed the next day, it's without a doubt the best thing for my mind and my body. I usually do this a lot if I've been through a lot of stressful and anxiety inducing weeks, so after we got kicked out of our house, I took quite a bit of time off. I felt a bit guilty for it and struggled to get back into the swing of things, but I don't think I would have coped or produced any quality content if I hadn't have done it. Sometimes you just have to follow your instincts and cope in the best way that you can. I quite often have to force myself to do things that make me feel so anxious, and I could easily just back down and give into my anxiety (which is completely okay to do if you feel that you can't cope) but most of the time I power through it because I do believe that you can improve the way that your mind reacts to certain situations. Some of the things that I used to feel so anxious about, don't affect me anymore and I'm not sure if that's a build on my own self confidence or jus that I've overcome them by forcing myself through it. Either way, whilst there isn't a cure for anxiety, you can definitely find ways to deal with it.

 

Mental health is serious and it's so important to keep up the conversation. In this day and age there shouldn't still be people out there disregarding it as a real illness, but, unfortunately there is and probably always will be. So this is why we have to help fight the stigma and keep talking.

 

Do you have or know anyone who suffers with anxiety? How do you cope?

 

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