Hi everyone! Welcome back. Today I want to talk about the thing that is kinda controlling my life at the moment- anxiety. (If you suffer from anxiety and are easily triggered by discussing it, please don’t read further).
So I’ve been struggling with anxiety for about two years now. In this post I want to explain a little (in my own words) what anxiety is like, a little about my experience with anxiety, and more importantly, how to deal with it.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a mental illness. The cause is yet unknown, but is said that it can be brought on by genetics, personality or certain triggering life events. There are different types of anxiety disorders which are:
- Generalised anxiety disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Separation anxiety disorder
- Agoraphobia (fear of going places in case of getting panic attacks)
- Panic disorder (frequent panic attacks for no reason)
It is probable that people will suffer from more than one type of anxiety disorder. If you suffer from anxiety, you will know all about panic attacks. These are the reason that anxiety is such a horrible mental illness to suffer from. It’s hard for someone who has experienced a panic attack to explain what they feel like… but I’ll try.
With panic attacks they can go from mild to major in no time at all. A mild panic attack feels uncomfortable. Your palms get sweaty, your heart starts to race, and you get an overall feeling of fear. This can be for no reason at all or if you are triggered by something. A full blown panic attack is horrible. You have shortness of breath, your heart feels like its going to burst out of your chest because it is racing, you are so terrified and feel like you are going to die ,and you may even have something called dissociation (which is hard to explain but basically feels like you’re outside your own body. It can be terrifying.) I don’t know if it’s the same for everyone, as I can only speak for myself and my own experiences with anxiety, but a mild panic attack can turn into a huge one quickly. There are certain breathing exercises you can do to help calm yourself down whilst having a panic attack, or you can take medication (benzodiazepines) to quickly slow your heart rate and take you back into reality.
My experience with anxiety:
I’ve suffered with anxiety for a little over two years now, and it has been tough I’m not going to lie. My anxiety started after a major life event and I had different types of anxiety disorders at different times throughout the two years. I suffer from generalised anxiety disorder, however, when my anxiety first started I suffered from panic disorder. I was having a panic attack at least once a day, everyday… and for no reason at all. I had to cut out caffeine because it made my heart race and then my thoughts would be running and that would lead to an attack. I then suffered a little from agoraphobia. I was scared to leave the house in case I got a panic attack. I couldn’t meet up with friends, I couldn’t travel on buses… I only felt safe going anywhere if I had medication with me, and even then I was still terrified because whether you have medication or not, having a panic attack is so uncomfortable and frightening.
Now, two years on, I am seeing a CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) counsellor, I am on anti-anxiety tablets, and have diazepam (a type of benzodiazepine) in case I get an attack. Although I still get nervous and worried I’ll have an attack, I can do so much more than I used to. I can now meet up with friends, and go on buses! However, I’m still too afraid to go on a flight because there would be no way for me to get off, but I’m hoping in the next few months I’ll get over that.
When I think back to what I was like without anxiety I get sad. I used to be able to do so much and now because of this mental illness I am not able to do half the things. Don’t get me wrong, I am so thankful I have support and medication to help me get over this, but I’m not quite there yet. I still have a long recovery ahead of me, but I am doing my best.
Ways of dealing with anxiety:
Here are some of my tips for overcoming/dealing with anxiety.
- See your doctor/psychiatrist: They will be able to point you in the direction of recovery which works for you, whether it be medication or specific anxiety related therapy.
- CBT therapy: Your doctor/psychiatrist will most likely recommend this anyway, but I can emphasise this enough. It’s a tough journey, but doing this type of therapy will help you through your tough times. Your CBT therapist will work with you on setting goals to get over your anxiety by making you get out of your comfort zone, (but always at your own pace!), + more
- Mindfulness meditation: There are plenty of mindfulness apps you can download to your phone to help you relax and help you during a panic attack, or times where your anxiety is high. For those of you who’ve never heard of mindfulness… it is a type of meditation in which you become aware of your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. For anyone that wants to learn more about mindfulness, or try some mindfulness techniques you can visit http://www.franticworld.com.
- Breathing techniques/body scan: Take a deep breath in for four seconds, hold for one second, and breathe out slowly for 4 seconds. This technique brings you back to the rational brain and is very relaxing and calming. A body scan is difficult to explain but basically you get in a comfortable position, sitting or lying down, (you can close your eyes if you want), and start at your feet. Start by feeling the sensations in your feet, and move up your legs, remembering to be aware of how they feel, and you work the whole way up your body constantly being conscious of how each body part feels. Once you get to the top of your head, go back the other way. Don’t worry about what thoughts are coming into your head, just let them be. Let the thoughts come and go, good or bad. Trust me, you’ll feel much better after this exercise. (You can search for body scan meditations on youtube, because I’m terrible at explaining!)
I’m not an expert in different techniques or anxiety in general so if you want more information on tackling your anxiety/practicing meditations you can visit http://www.mindful.org
Those are some of the ways I manage my anxiety, and I hope they help! I wanted to talk about anxiety today because I had a tough day with it. It is such a debilitating illness but it is manageable.
Thank you for reading today, and remember, look after yourself. You are brave and your mental illness does not define you!
What are some of your tips for dealing with anxiety? What is your story of dealing with anxiety? Let me know in the comments below!
Once again, thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post.
All my love,