Let's talk about anxiety
I never thought I would be the type to talk about anxiety, let alone write about it so publicly like this – but it's better said than kept under the rug, am I right?
First of all, what I want to get out of this is awareness.
I don't need sympathy nor do I need any more attention. In fact, any confrontation of this sort freaks me out – Instead, I ask you to be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.
Not everyone has a "normal" response to anxiety, so how I'm about to describe anxiety isn't how it feels for everyone. However, for every person who suffers from the condition, there is another person who completely doesn't understand it. So I'm going to explain what anxiety feels like for me.
I've found that many of my own anxiety attacks don't have a trigger. Simply put, it can be an overwhelming feeling of panic that can happen at any moment. Of course, depending on my environment, who I'm with or what I'm just about to do, my internal and external side effects can vary.
Right before I'm about to get hit with an anxiety attack, I get a sudden hot body flush. It feels like a rush of tingly, hot heat starting from my head, moves quickly down my spine and finishes at my toes. Followed by a rapidly beating heart and watery eyes – If I focus on these effects for too long, the watery eyes turn into streams of tears. It's helpful to have a "happy place" to suddenly distract my mind.
Eventually, the worry produced by my anxiety dominates my thinking and it interferes with daily functioning. So whenever I'm having an episode I become completely overwhelmed by my feelings, I begin to loose concentration and I just get stuck in my head obsessively over thinking my situation – It's like my brain is gearing itself up for war.
My hands and feet sweat and shake profusely, making it awkward when I shake hands with new people or when I'm trying to drink/eat. Even if I do successfully get a spoon of food or a cup of water on my lips, I have troubles swallowing or end up spilling/dropping food on myself – Earlier today, my hand locked when I was shaking someones hand and I couldn't let go. So weird. Their intense eye contact killed me internally.
If I ever find myself in a social environment, my actions can swing two ways:
I'll either be near the bar concealing & numbing my anxiety with a drink or two, enough to give me the confidence to strike a conversation OR I'll be totally avoiding alcohol completely so I don't get a sudden anxiety attack – So if I've ever declined a drink from you, I'm sorry, I just don't want to have an anxiety attack!
If I end up making conversation, sometimes I tremble my words, blurt out random things or just mirror personalities. I'll usually be fidgeting with something (my hair, makeup or outfit), biting/pealing my lips, frantically looking around the room, pulling things in and out of my bag and visiting the bathroom frequently to get some time-out and to catch my breath.
By now I've probably shook many of you. And I get it. My anxiety is a contrast to my big, bold personality – I'm a walking conundrum because I love people and need to be surrounded by people to be happy, but my over-thinking and my apprehension to immediately trust someone is, in fact, what makes me very selective about who I surround myself with.
Although I am very bold and outgoing, sometimes even the smallest things can stress me out and override my nerves. Whether it's leaving the house for lunch, socialising with people or making a call to my doctor, just the thought of having to deal with it makes my mind race.
BUT like I said, my anxiety attacks have no trigger, so I'm not always like this! I refuse to identify with my anxiety and I refuse to let it control me. Quitting the 9-5 rat race and freelance designing at my own pace whilst moving countries to pursue whatever I want is my fuck you to anxiety.
Here's where you can make a difference. Dealing with someone who has anxiety is difficult (I think my partner can vouch for that – I'm so sorry, boo!) so the next time you're having a conversation with someone,
Listen with the intent to understand, instead of listening with the intent to respond...
and just be nice! At least attempt to have an engaging conversation with us! Don't leave us by ourselves – Our panic attacks only gets worse if we're left alone to suffer through our own thoughts!
Don't think that by now we're used to it. Every panic attack is every bit as traumatizing as the previous one. So try not to seem irritated or judgmental because we already feel like we're inconveniencing you.
And most importantly, educate others.
Being that this is an issue especially important to me, I think it's important that everyone knows how to help someone who is going through a panic attack because it's truly a terrifying experience.
Please share this page to increase awareness and understanding. Thank you so much for getting all the way to the bottom of this page. Your passion to help will never go unnoticed or unappreciated.