I always loved to write. It has always been my safe place, and now it’s a form of healing too. I am not looking for any compassion or empathy, I just say how I feel because it helps me with my own emotions. I guess it’s some kind of self-therapy.
I don’t want my blog to be a sad, depressing place, quite opposite if anything, but I am aware my last couple of posts seemed a bit low. It’s because I am going through the most horrendous and painful time at the moment and I honestly don’t know how to cope it with. I feel lost, powerless and like I am not on steady ground. But I don’t want to give up on myself just yet, and I don’t want to see a therapist again, so I just write, in hope, that somehow I will feel better and maybe my own story will help you with yours. I want to focus on something different too and keep myself busy, so I don’t overthink my problems.
Today I wanted to touch base on anxiety and how this little thing can affect our everyday life. We should start with an explanation of what exactly anxiety is. It is a persistent feeling of worry, nervousness, and fear. Everyone experience feeling of stress and worry at some point, most people will have it during a stressful situation, as it’s a natural reaction when we feel under pressure. However 1 in 10 in the UK is diagnosed with anxiety disorder, and words can’t describe how lucky I am to be in this group. Yay! (I’m being ironic here). Symptoms vary, everyone goes through it differently and everyone has different symptoms. I, for example, don’t have panic attacks, but I constantly feel unsure of the future to the point I struggle to sleep. My brain cannot process the situation without worrying about it. For example, I won’t try new food, because I worry it will make me feel sick. If I send a message to someone and they don’t respond for a while, I worry it’s because I have done something wrong. I am reluctant at going out because I worry about how do I get home or people I am about to meet won’t like me. I worry about everything, from how will I feel when my dog dies to where am I going to live when my boyfriend leaves me. It’s always a worst-case scenario for my brain, even though many situations aren’t about to happen any time soon, and if I am being completely honest, it’s very tiring to feel like this.
Having said that, there are a few things that I have learned to do to help me. The first one is, and I mentioned it before, ‘You will cross the bridge when you get to the bridge’. This saying has a calming effect on my mind because I do tend to exaggerate a lot even when my situation might not be as bad as I think. So when I keep saying this to myself, I feel like my brain slows down a little and I can relax. The second thing is breathing. Breathing helps when you experience other anxiety symptoms, and I would like to expand this topic, cause I don’t think people are actually fully aware of how your body reacts when you are anxious. I have to add that anxiety impacts your ability to carry out your normal life and the symptoms are both mental and physical. Let’s start with mental ones first, as they are the hardest to spot. They include lack of concentration, feeling irritable, having racing thoughts, feelings of dread, overthinking, problems with sleep, wanting to escape the situation you are in, dissociation. Physical symptoms are sweating, hot and cold flushes, irregular heartbeat, dry mouth, lack of energy, stomach feels churns or your bowel feels loose, you are dizzy, have weak muscles and feel like you are under a threat. I also turn bright red when I am anxious, making it perfectly noticeable for everyone around me. So breathing, and my 10/10 method has helped me to manage my body. I think the hardest thing for me personally is to calm my mind because I do really need to focus on this, and when I breathe and count to ten, I automatically think about the counting, rather than anything else, therefore I can manage my storm of emotions. Then my body follows. So it is a process for me.
We have a few types of anxiety, like social disorder, panic disorder, phobias, agoraphobia (fear of being in situations where you can’t escape, and as a result, you are afraid to leave the house or be in a public transport, crowdy places, etc), OCD, hair pulling, post-traumatic stress disorder, body dysmorphic disorder. The exact cause of each isn’t known, I mean we can blame genetics, as some people are born more anxious than others, we can say our life experiences made us anxious, certain situations we find ourselves in or substances, like drugs or alcohol. But I think rather than focusing on how did they all happen, we should take actions and treat them instead, so we don’t suffer from any form of anxiety, regardless of where they are from. In my case, it was definitely helpful to understand why am I anxious, as it turned out I lost my ‘confidence’ at the age of just three when my little sister was born. Suddenly I wasn’t the only child in the house, and even though my parents and grandparents did look after me, and did a great job, how I thought about myself since then shaped my entire life. I saw my sister’s birth as they replaced me with a new baby, and so now, thirty years later, I still have this feeling inside me that says ‘what if it happens again’. As a result, whatever I do, I think I might not be good enough and will be replaced. And I know it’s wrong and I shouldn’t feel like this, but it something that I have accepted is part of me, and the best thing I can do for myself is to learn how to manage it.
Anxiety is a condition that can be treated with medicines, but I was never a fan of any forms of chemicals inside my body. For me, they only mask the issue, rather than help, and it’s only a placebo effect. Once you stop taking them, you are going to find yourself anxious again sooner or later, so I would rather try different ways of dealing with it first before taking prescription drugs. But I am not a doctor, so perhaps I don’t know what I am talking about 😉 The most effective treatments for me were therapy with my psychologist and self-meditation. Therapy did help because it taught me to see things from a different perspective and not necessarily trust my own head, and meditation helped me to relax. Now I write this blog, and like I said at the beginning, it is a self-therapy that allows me to deal with anxious thoughts.
And I think this is the point I tried to reach with this post in the first place, it doesn’t matter how or where – the most important thing is that you do seek help if you suffer. You should never feel ashamed, embarrassed or judged. You are as important as everyone else and we all have equal rights to live a happy life. If you do feel anxious or stressed though for any reason or you experience any of the symptoms that I have listed above, don’t be afraid to talk to someone. Breathe, meditate, read, get advice from doctors, go to the gym, change your eating habits, think of the triggers and how you can overcome your fears, anything. Take the first step. And don’t ever forget you are in this world to be happy. So do what makes you happy.