This is my third consecutive day of feeling overwhelmingly, profusely, immensely anxious. And I hate it... Within this feeling, however, is the desire to write and write and write. To share. To educate. To help other people also drowning in panic and everything. feeling. too.
What IT feels like...
Anxiety is almost entirely impossible to explain to a non-sufferer. I used to watch YouTube videos of people saying 'I have anxiety' and honestly, I just couldn't understand it. Feeling anxious is a human emotion. I feel anxious before a test, before results day, before a job interview, before a party etc. I had always assumed horrendous anxiety would only occur after a horrendous event, like death of a family member, car crash, or something equally traumatic. I was completely ignorant to what 'anxiety' felt like.
Personally, my anxiety comes in waves. Before school broke up for Christmas, I had experienced several days of horrible anxiety during my lessons. And then it subsided. I was able to listen and participate in my classes once again, even go out with my friends without my brain and body going in to 'fight or flight' mode. I guess I was naive, thinking it had disappeared.
Because anxiety cannot disappear. It must be addressed, it must be understood, and, above all, it must not be feared.
1. Anxiety feels overwhelming. It usurps ever corner of your mind until all you can focus on is the tightness in your chest or your erratic breathing.
2. Anxiety feels in-explainable. You can be sitting on your bed, watching a film, entirely comfortable and then it comes. Unannounced.
3. Anxiety feels like your identity. This is known as depersonalisation. You can forget what it feel like to be free of this consuming anxiety, who you were before it attacked your mind.
4. Anxiety feels like you are going to die. This is quite extreme, I know, but I have had moments where my heart was beating so fast, I honestly feared that I was having a fatal heart attack. Struggling to fit air in your tightening lungs is frightening.
What IT actually is...
1. Anxiety is not permanent. Regardless of how long you have been feeling panicked, it is temporary. And you will get through it.
2. Anxiety is not fatal. I read somewhere that anxiety is caused by a simple imbalance in the body from continuous stress. We are not always aware where this stress came from which is EXACTLY why we panic about panicking, causing our body to go in to fight or flight mode.
3. Anxiety can be cured. Remember that fear is and EMOTION, not a medical condition.
4. Anxiety is incredibly common. You are not alone.
'Calm' is an elusive word when I feel anxious. Telling myself to 'relax, stay calm, find peace' is not a long term solution for anxiety. It's frustrating. I feel angry. I feel hopeless. IT feels unconquerable.
But... it is just that. A feeling. (A very real feeling that affects your heart and breathing but a feeling all the same).
For short term relief, say for perhaps when I am in a particularly anxious spell and my heart rate is proliferating, I listen to music. Very loudly. I look out of the window and focus my gaze on the birds. I write. I read. It is about distraction, engaging in ANYTHING but your racing heart or your constricting lungs.
And yet anxiety cannot dissolve from short term relief. Not entirely.
I like to keep a notebook in which I write down quotes that help me find calm and reassurances that what I'm feeling is O K A Y. I also create mind maps with 'anxiety' in the center and my symptoms in red, my feelings in blue. Most recently, I drew a diagram with all my fears, attempting to find the root of my anxiety (eg moving away from home, fear of getting ill, fear of missing out social events because of feeling ill). Verbalizing what scares you is frightening in itself but such an important step in overcoming your anxious period.
In no way have I defeated anxiety. But I'm determined. And I will keep working on the journey. This isn't going to define me. This isn't going to rule me. This isn't who I am. And this isn't how I will stay.
'be safe in the knowledge that inside you, there is always peace. deep within you, there is always calm.'
(Please use the comments section to discuss how you tackle anxiety. Maybe you could help someone?)
A helpful app: Calm
A brilliant book: Panicking about Panic [x]