Picture from: teacuptoria (visit her site to read how she manages stress & anxiety too)
Growing up I was a quiet kid. In my early years I often suppressed my feelings and avoided any kind of confrontation no matter how small.
I mostly enjoyed my own company and I wasn’t happy sharing my feelings about most things. I kept everything bottled up! This of course was not healthy but at the time you do what you can to cope with what life has handed you.
It wasn’t until my early 20’s that I gained more confidence, made more friends and generally socialised much more.
But it wasn’t until this point that I was diagnosed with GAD.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder is defined as a disorder in which the sufferer feels in a constant state of high anxiety and is often referred to as chronic worrying.
Honestly I think my mind and my body finally relaxed and let go after almost 25 years and everything I’d gone through and suppressed all my life suddenly came up and out. I had no idea what was wrong with me or why I couldn’t cope with every day life. I started experiencing daily panic attacks which were pretty scary especially as I had no idea why I was having them. And I had no control over my thoughts and I could never quiet my mind and just relax. It was exhausting.
But with the help from my doctor, some counselling and using online CBT training I got the anxiety under control.
So if you’ve never suffered with anxiety in your life this is what it can be like:
- Unable to walk into a room of people without feeling uncomfortable and worrying people are thinking horrible thoughts about you.
- Lying in bed at night unable to quiet your mind and having imaginary arguments with people for hours on end until you give up trying to sleep and get back up. Nothing like a 5am bed time when you have to get up for work at 6:30am.
- Attending meetings and leaving shaking and wanting nothing more than to be back at your desk where it’s quiet and familiar.
- Unable to go food shopping alone as the thought of packing all your food into bags at lightning speed whilst talking to a stranger seems like some form of torture.
- People constantly asking you if you’re okay because you are shaking and look kind of pale most of the time.
- Consistent headaches that start in your shoulders, go up your neck and spread over your entire head – tension headaches are the best.
- Snapping and feeling irritable with loved ones because they should know exactly how you’re feeling all the time and you can’t quite cope with deciding what to have for dinner. Why do you have to always make the big decisions in life? You’ve got enough to worry about.
- Unable to multi-task. Just no.
- Driving along in your car suspicious that every other drive is incapable of seeing you and any moment now someone is going to crash into your car.
- Constantly tidying and arranging things.
- Unable to wear anything remotely fitted or tight around your belly. For some reason it causes you to have a short fuse.
- Cannot cope with feeling physically uncomfortable – especially too hot.
That’s some of the things anxiety causes for me but I’m sure it’s different for everyone. I honestly could write 100 more…
I still suffer with it now and lately it’s been a bit more consistent so I’m back to intentionally tackling it on the daily. I thought it would help others if I shared how I cope with anxiety and the resources I find to help.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – This helps you to develop good coping skills and overcome difficult emotions. It’s also free and you can do it privately in your own home. (moodgym)
- This website – anxietyuk.org. There is a free help line if you just need to talk to someone about it.
- Guided meditation – Type ‘free guided meditation’ into google and you’ll find a plethora of online downloads you can use. I have found these particularly helpful when I can’t relax enough to fall to sleep at night.
- AVOID CAFFEINE
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Stretching – especially your tummy, hips, back and shoulders
- Take regular breaks at work and avoid checking emails too often.
- If you can’t quiet your mind at night and it’s affecting your sleep get up and write down everything you’re thinking about – get it out of your head.
- Tell family/friends/your partner. Sometimes anxiety can come across as odd behaviour to others if they don’t know you are suffering with it. To avoid miscommunications or hurt feelings trust that your loved ones will understand and support you through a difficult time.
- And of course – speak to your doctor. Anxiety is so common these days and there is a lot of help out there now. My doctors have been wonderful and I couldn’t have coped without them.
I hope the points above are helpful to you if you have been suffering with any form of anxiety. And I also hope it helps others understand how difficult every day life is for loved ones suffering with it. We can come across unreasonable and scatty but know that anxiety sufferer’s are fighting a constant battle inside of ourselves that people just can’t see.