With recent happenings, my anxiety has gotten worse. I’ve suffered for over 20 years, and I thought I’d finally had everything under control. Well, as good as you can be with anxiety. However, one little (or big) thing can change everything when it comes to this condition.
I say condition because I believe it is a medical condition. It’s not a choice or a personality trait, but a chemical imbalance in your brain. I’m not a scientist, doctor, or medical expert, but my years of experience dealing with it (and medical experts) has taught me a lot. So, if you think you may experience anxiety, please do consult a professional for help.
Even though I’ve touched briefly on my anxiety before, I wanted to give you a closer look as to how it feels to me on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis. It may be hard to understand, if you’ve never experienced it, but I hope it will give you a little insight into the struggle of living with it.
When you live with Anxiety…
- The smallest event (or non-event) can be a trigger.
- What may seem like no big deal to some, may be a HUGE deal to someone who suffers.
- You never can predict what might make you anxious/afraid/panicked/upset.
- Your heart hurts when you see how it affects the people around you.
- The guilt can be overwhelming if you’re a mother. Not only do you worry about what your kids see in you, but you worry you’ve passed this horrible condition on to them.
When you try to explain Anxiety…
- People may just think you are “a little worried” or “neurotic”
- Some don’t understand you can’t control your reactions, your thought process, or your physical reactions (tears, panic attacks, wanting to be alone)
- You know it’s not always logical, but it doesn’t make it go away.
When you’re anxious about something…
- You can’t just shut off your thoughts.
- The event/trigger just keeps playing like a loop in your brain.
- The more you try NOT to think about something, the more you think about it.
- It stops you from doing your daily activities, from wanting to go anywhere, from wanting to be around anyone.
- It can lead to depression, and it’s not something you can just snap out of.
When I’M Anxious
- My heart pounds, my stomach hurts, I can’t eat, and I can’t sleep.
- I don’t want to be around people who don’t understand, so I stick close to home and my family.
- Things pile up and seem impossible to get back on track
- Everything seems like too much
- I’m sad, I’m mean, I yell, I cry
- I’m not a good Mom/Friend/Sister/Daughter because I’m just consumed with what is going on in my head
- I don’t want to explain what I’m anxious about because I’m afraid you’ll judge me or think I’m “crazy”
- My anxiety seems to go in waves. Sometimes it’s a struggle to get through an hour, but then there are days where I’m feeling OK.
There is Hope
Even though it is hard to work through, and even harder to ask for help, there is a way out of the isolation/fear/panic. I’ve tried many, many things throughout the last 20 years, and I’ve found something that helps me most of the time.
For me, it has been a combination of things.
I’ve tried more medications than I can even remember. I’ve had some that didn’t work at all, some that had horrible side effects, and some that worked too well. And by that, I mean I felt so good that I thought I didn’t need medication anymore.
Then, the trial and error would begin again.
I’ve finally found a medication that allows me to feel mostly like myself, while taking away most of my anxiety.
With that, I still need to do other things to function.
I’ve had therapy, and I’ve found things that work like therapy.
I write, I exercise, and I talk about my anxiety with people I trust. They will not judge me, and I tell them exactly what I need from those conversations. I do not need to be told that my thoughts are silly. I just need someone to listen, and sometimes talk me through what is actually happening. Not what my mind is telling me.
I also push myself, and often practice “fake it ’til you make it.”
I usually don’t want to go to a party or crowded place, but I make myself go. It’s really hard for me to meet new people, and even going to my kids’ school events can be a struggle. But, I put on a smile, and try my best.
If I only went out of my house when I wanted to…well, that wouldn’t be very often.
While it is still hard for me, I find that once I get to a place, I’m usually OK.
What you can do
Anxiety is not something that is the same for everyone. What works for me, may not work for you.
If you are suffering, please reach out to someone you trust. I know it’s a hard first step, but it will get better. I promise.
If you don’t want to explain yourself or don’t know who to talk to, reach out to me. Send me an email, and I will talk to you. I will call a doctor for you, if you can’t do it yourself. I will just listen, and not judge.
If you love someone with anxiety, please be patient with them. Please don’t push them, but don’t leave them alone either. Reach out, but know they may not reach right back. It’s hard to see someone you love struggling and you may get mad/irritated/upset with them, but they are really not trying to hurt you or push you away. Sometimes they can only concentrate on themselves or just on getting through the day.
Don’t judge them for taking medication, going to therapy, or doing whatever they need to do to survive and live.
Even though big events, like my accident, may set me back for a while, I know I will eventually pull myself out of the darkness. However, I DO need time and understanding. It’s not something that can be rushed. I know that from experience. I also know that not everyone will have that patience to wait for me to return to myself, and that’s OK too. It’s not something I can control, and if you can’t deal with all of me, you can’t be part of my life.
- Please know that it is not you, it’s my anxiety
- Don’t be upset if I don’t call/text/message right away
- Please understand that if I cancel, I really didn’t want to, but I had to
- I’m forever grateful for the people in my life that take the time to understand, that give me the room and space I need, and that love me no matter how I act when the anxiety is in charge