For most people I talk to, when I tell them I have an anxiety disorder, they nod their head and tell me it’ll be okay. When I tell them, “I’m sorry, I’m having a bad anxiety day, can we reschedule?” They smile and tell me there’s nothing to worry about and if I just get out of bed, I’ll see that everything is fine. When I don’t want to go bar hopping because I know that alcohol only increases my anxious tendencies I hear, “You’re fine. It’ll be fun. Let off some steam!”
Meanwhile, my heart is pounding so fast that I’m afraid it may be visibly beating out of my chest. But it isn’t. My head isn’t actually spinning in circles. My eyes are not crossed like my blurred vision indicates. My knees aren’t wobbling along with the trembling muscles fighting the urge to collapse. My face isn’t pale and my eyes aren’t bloodshot. No, on the outside, I look like I do every day. My hair is clean. My clothes match. I am awake, alive and breathing fine. So nothing is wrong, right?
That’s the thing about anxiety disorders. We look fine. Of course, we look fine. Our legs aren’t broken. Our tongues haven’t been cut out. We aren’t cut or bruised. Because anxiety is not a physical disability. That however, does not make it any less debilitating.
Anxiety is a complex disorder and it is nothing to simply smile and nod away. You telling us everything is okay not only doesn’t help us, but it hurts us more because nobody seems to take it seriously.
So here are some things I would like you to know about struggling with anxiety.
It is not constant.
There are days when I can make it through without having to stop and breathe or pop a Xanax. I can smile and laugh. I can be productive and go to work, go out to dinner, go see a movie with my friends. And trust me, I know how difficult it is to understand how I can be fine one day and the next, not be able to get out of bed. That’s just how it is.
Which leads me to my next point:
It comes in waves.
Anxiety is a strange beast. It will let me have some fun for a couple of days and I think, hmm maybe it’s finally left me alone. Then a few days go by, and I wake up one morning unable to even think straight because for whatever reason, the beast has once again emerged and there is nothing I can do to stop it from coming because I have woken up to it sitting on my chest smiling as if I’m welcoming it home.
It can be completely paralyzing.
I don’t know if this one applies to everyone, but I know it is a very big piece of my anxiety disorder. When anxiety hits, I am frozen. I can get up and go through the motions of my day but my brain is elsewhere, held captive by whatever “demon” is inhabiting me this time. I cannot think about anything except my inability to think or breathe or feel. Let that one sink in. My brain feels like it is literally paralyzed, as if it is stuck in some kind of limbo with no doors or windows or exits of any kind.
The worst part? I’m completely alone in there.
It can ruin relationships.
Not just romantic relationships, but a relationship of any kind. Friendships and relationships alike can be destroyed by this condition. I have experienced both, and it is the most devastating kind of loss. Why? Because it is not our fault.
It is a disorder that, without the knowledge of how to care for it properly, can explode over time. Eventually, it can become too much for someone else to carry around with them. If they become close enough to you to experience firsthand the effects of your anxiety, it can become too much for them and they might sever the ties for their own mental health. And it hurts like hell.
But I can’t blame them because if I could choose to stay as far away from anxiety as they can, I would in a heartbeat.
It can make trust nearly impossible.
I know it sounds awful to blame trust issues on anxiety but in all honestly, it’s not placing blame, it’s placing responsibility. Anxiety almost never fails to make you think the worst of every situation.
If someone doesn’t answer my text, well then that’s it, they no longer like me. If someone doesn’t text me first, they don’t think about me. Someone is busy? Forget it. They just have better things to do with their time than spend it with me. I sound ridiculous, right? Welcome to the anxiety life. We do not have cookies, sorry, but can I interest you in crippling loneliness at a table for one? No? Didn’t think so.
I do not want this.
. . .
I will overcome it.
But it will take time. Fighting anxiety can be a never-ending battle with frequent slip ups and breakdowns along the way. I am still in the process personally, and it is not easy. At all. This is by far the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my entire life. And I have been through a lot. Anxiety however, takes the cake.
Note: I tried to keep it short, to not actually use all the article’s text, but I couldn’t bring myself to cut more out. Every word of it needs to be said, and read, by as many people as possible. Understanding is everything.
… to keep your cool.
It is surprisingly easy to lose your cool, and to react to minor stresses and to irritating people.
However, most of us would rather feel relaxed and in control, and the following guidelines can
help us reach this goal.
1. Keep things in perspective: Often we catastrophise or over-react when the issue or
offense is insignificant. Here, it is best to force yourself to take a balanced approach and remind
yourself, “it’s minor, and not worth the energy!”
2. Visualise yourself coping: Take a few deep breaths and let your feelings settle down. Draw
a mental picture of a calm, unflustered “you”, who takes their time to respond and is able to
cope. Then, in a calm, low voice – with a few well chosen words – respond as you would like, so
you maintain your self-respect.
3. Be aware of your triggers: When someone pushes our buttons we generally react.
However, if we know what those are then we can regain control, and can practice how to cope
when our feelings are stirred. Also, if we’re tired or hungry, feeling cold, or over-stretched then
we’re much more likely to over-react.
4. Create a calm environment: Stay one step ahead by preparing yourself for inevitable
setbacks and infuriating people. For example, play some music in the car, or take a walk during
lunch, or keep some photos in your office of the people that you love.
5. Distract yourself: When you feel the pressure building, or you start to ruminate, think of
something that’s amusing, or a fun event you’ve planned.
These are just a few suggestions to help you stay detached so that stresses and people don’t
make you lose your cool.
Found at onlinecounsellingcollege.tumblr.com.
I know right now it feels like your world is caving in on top of you and that there is no way out, but i’m here to tell you there is.
You are a good person, to your core, who is loved and loves openly in return, and I know at times that has gotten you hurt and makes you question ever opening yourself up again, ever taking chances on anything uncertain in result- I understand.
I would love to take the pain away, to make it easier for you to move past it, to show you that things will be ok, but I can’t. I would love to convince you not to beat yourself up over what has happened, but I know that you will, and that you will try time and time again to find a way to blame yourself- because that is how open and caring you are to everyone around you, no matter what. Always trying to take it all upon yourself. I would love not to fill you full of cliched overused lines, but you really WILL be stronger at the end of this, and it will not kill you. Good things really DO come to those who wait (and especially those who fight for it), and this too SHALL pass.
When it feels like there is a GIGANTIC man sitting on your chest who just won’t get off and let you breathe in deeply and EXHALE, really exhale, – words don’t mean a whole hell of a lot. They can’t mend a heart, or wipe away tears, and sometimes the truth can be hard to hear. When we’re falling apart inside, we don’t want to hear any words other than the ones that tumble around inside of our heads.
This is it. I can’t do this. It’s over. I can’t take it. I can’t make it through this
And the last thing you want someone to say to you is STOP. Just stop.
You want to wallow, you want to feel like it’s all really over, but to feel better all at the same time. I’ve been there. I’ve felt that. I’ve wanted to smack the hell out of anyone who bugged me about how I was feeling or how I was doing or asked me if I wanted to talk.
Looking back, I realize the ones who asked, the ones who bugged and annoyed me were the ones who actually cared.