Along my journey since discovering I have anxiety and that I’ve had it most of my life, I have realised how many people don’t even know that anxiety is an actual diagnosed condition. Some people seem to think that anxiety is something you feel occasionally (mistaken for being anxious), and that it’s often used as an “excuse” when everyday things aren’t achievable. I thought I’d write a list of things I tend to go through to put it out there that anxiety is a serious condition that shouldn’t be shrugged off by those who don’t understand.
1. You can’t just “switch it off”
Anxiety can come from many different parts of your life, whether it’s your childhood, a tough experience, a tragedy or genetically passed down. Once you have it, it can be a very difficult task to completely rid of it. You are basically stuck with it for life, but through treatment, therapy and personal growth it can be overcome to an extent. It’s something that you can learn to manage, even if it’s with you forever.
2. It can prevent you from doing “normal” things
Normal, every day things that anyone else would consider completely simple and not a big deal at all are a massive deal for those with anxiety. Anything like making a phone call, answering your phone, someone knocking at your door, enjoying a party, making conversation, lifting a drink to your mouth, eating a tricky plate of food that could get messy, wearing something that isn’t comfortable, wearing makeup that could smudge, speaking to someone at a counter, leaving the house and more. All these things are a struggle.
3. Maintaining friendships is difficult
Firstly making a friend is hard. Meeting anyone results in constant thoughts of “they don’t like me”, “I don’t know what to talk about”, “that was an awkward silence”, “they’re never going to want to talk to me again”…. so if a friendship is made, that’s an achievement in itself. Once you have that in place, anxiety can make it very difficult to keep it up. Feeling constant nerves about making contact, turning down going out because you’re too scared, fearing saying the wrong thing, and thinking that the more they get to know you the less they’ll like you.
4. You might feel hopeless
Anxiety is directly related to depression, due to how anxiety can make you feel. I personally feel like anxiety has turned me into someone I never thought I’d be. Every day I feel a sense of hopelessness, like I’m never going to succeed, like nothing I do is good enough, like I’ll never have friends and a happy, healthy life. I do try, every single day. But it’s tough.
5. Fear controls every part of your day
Anything you want to do in your day is overtaken by fear. Even just leaving the house for a drive to get milk seems like a massive task. It’s a type of fear that you don’t even know where it’s coming from, or what it’s about. I’ve gone through stages over the last few years where I couldn’t wear sandals or thongs without carrying another pair of shoes in my bag for fear of them breaking. I would have massive panic attacks walking home from the train station thinking my jeans had ripped in the back when they hadn’t at all. Every day. My fear tends to come from thinking something is going to go wrong. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. All I can do to help with that is make sure I’m prepared in every way.
6. It can have an affect on your body
I unfortunately experience a lot of stress in my body when I feel my anxiety playing up. This is where it gets quite hard to hide what’s going on. I will shake – my hands, my legs, my mouth. I get extremely sick in the stomach. I feel like I can’t breathe. My mouth becomes dry. I yawn uncontrollably. I’m very restless. I feel like I need to go to sleep. If I can’t deal with anxiety I will just cry, and cry and cry, and that is something I find really hard to stop.
7. Opportunities are turned down
I have had to turn down quite a few opportunities over the years. From something as small as meeting someone for coffee, to fun and exciting opportunities as a blogger. I have got myself through some, purely from wanting to push myself and thinking that I’ll feel better afterwards. Those times I had to go through all the body symptoms x10 before the opportunity, and then the emotional symptoms afterwards (eg. thinking about one thing I may have done or said wrong). I have responded to many emails turning down invitations to events that I would love so much to go to, because I’m too afraid.
8. You just want to be alone
As much as I love being around Daniel (he’s really the only person I can be around for a full day), a lot of the time I just need my alone time. And he knows that. With everything that goes on in my mind, listening to someone speak or having to converse with them for a lengthy amount of time can be exhausting. If I need to be alone I will just work on my computer for a while, or I’ll watch tv in a different room. As much as I like to be alone, I still love knowing that he’s just in the next room.
9. It can make you sensitive to negativity
Some of my most horrible experiences have been face to face with other people, usually in working environments. Whether that has been with work colleagues who don’t know how to take me as I’m so quiet, or with difficult customers when working in retail. Because I’ve had such bad experiences, to the point of panic attacks in public, crying in public, wanting to just dive straight into a hole and never come out, I find it very hard to trust that I’m going to be okay when in public situations. In terms of customers I think I’ve just been very unlucky, but it has definitely scared me into thinking that anyone I speak to in a shopping centre is going to be that way. These days I’m shocked when someone is nice to me.
10. You feel like you’re missing out
One of the worst thoughts I have daily is that I’m missing out on so much in life because of anxiety. I envy those who can travel, meet new people, work effortlessly and take on life head-first. I’m kind of glad I got so much travelling done while I was young and anxiety in my life was minimal to nothing. I guess how I overcome this fear of missing out is by appreciating what I have. I’ve already had some brilliant experiences in my life, I’ve travelled to some amazing countries, I have the most incredible boyfriend and a family that is always there for me. I have everything you need really, so I just try to remind myself that overall I’m very blessed.