I first want to say that ALL anxiety disorders are important and worth speaking about! I am just relaying some of my experiences. I guess it’s a good way to purge emotionally and just let out some of the frustrations that many people with anxiety disorders can relate to. I was formally diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Mild Clinical Depression in November 2017. But have been on a rollercoaster of medications for NINE years prior to that. My GP and my psychologists along the way suspected this but it was better to get that “official” diagnosis from a psychiatrist- almost a decade later. I wanted to say a few things that would show what I feel, felt and what others have too. Trust me, you are NOT alone. I’m with you.
1. Worrying about EVERYTHING.You think I would be used to it but I am still surprised by the number of people who tell me to ‘calm down’ and just ‘relax’. just because I am constantly on high alert and feel anxious. Do you mind while I try to walk away from you and have my panic attack in peace? I might have no idea why I am feeling this way. I may have a reason. I worry about being worried. I stress about any impending stress. I worry about having a panic attack. Please don’t ask me why and if you do and I say‘I don’t know,’ leave me alone or sit in silence with me. Anxiety doesn’t equal worry/ stress. It equals hyper and irrational amounts of the two. With or without a reason.
2. I don’t have the typical panicked faceSorry! I might look annoyed; I may look despondent or even just plain bored. Sometimes for you to see my “face” I’ve already tipped over the edge and I am the only one who can bring myself back. Usually I look more constipated than panicked. Or even angered. Here’s the thing, not everyone has the typical panic stricken face.
3. Paper bags are a load of crock!By carrying around a paper bag, I’m telling myself that I WILL have some kind of panic attack during the day. This leads to me worrying about having a panic attack and BOOM, there’s the panic attack. As much as one needs to arm themselves with coping mechanisms that can work better over time; carrying around a paper bag means you are pre-empting the attack. So I don’t carry one with me- ever.
4. My panic attacks don’t always render me in a state where I hyperventilate or even faint.Surprise, surprise!! I can feel chest pain, shaking hands, chronic pain flaring up, a migraine etc… Feeling anxiety doesn’t always have “typical” symptoms.
5. Don’t tell me to “get over it”, “stop panicking” or “calm down”If that’s your first go to, please leave me alone in peace. I will not be offended; actually relieved. Telling me the obvious only makes me feel worse. I don’t know about some of you, but I’m sure you want to punch the person who has uttered those useless words! I do, but I don’t. I don’t want a criminal record.
6. Telling me to, “go take your medication!”Now if you ever really wanted to get a punch from me, this is the phrase to use. This is not a scrape that can be “fixed” with a Band-Aid. If anything, that is an insulting and ignorant comment. In my opinion at least.
7. I can’t avoid triggering places and experiences forever.Triggering stimuli is difficult, but staying away from everything that may cause any symptoms can only make that list if stimuli become worse and/or longer. It takes baby steps; one step at a time. I’ve gradually let myself be around some triggering stimuli, but I will not rush myself.
8. Anxiety ≠ WeaknessYou have to have big balls to go through this daily and still try to take on the world. One’s made of steel. That actually goes for all anxiety disorders. No one chooses to have anxiety of any kind and sure you may feel fearful (I have and do) but this doesn’t equate to weakness.
9. A heathy lifestyle will cure anxiety.If someone says this to you, tell them to get a life. A healthy lifestyle can be beneficial and medication doesn’t have to be a permanent thing (in SOME cases) but a new lifestyle doesn’t guarantee anxiety going away. Typing this is actually giving me palpitations because I have heard this phrase a few times and oh my word, a plea to those saying this, please stop! Been there, done that and now I know I need to take it easy on myself. Its good to be conscious of your health in general but veggies and cross-fit will not take away my anxiety. So that is just a couple of things. The list can get longer. So while I calm down, have a eat healthy, exercise and think positive thoughts, I hope I’ve been able to educate some people. Imagine most of that last sentence as sounding highly sarcastic. Thank you!