Living with an anxiety disorder is difficult. How do I know this? Well, I share my mind, body and soul with the demon we call “anxiety” and his effective twin brother “panic attack”. These two conventions go hand-in-hand; the first puts you on edge while the second exhales the issue. But like with every form of health condition there is always a lack of awareness and as a newbie to the anxiety world, I wanted to share with you what I have discovered.
Firstly, let me explain further what anxiety actually is. Anxiety is considered to be a condition which can range from very mild to severe; it can lead to alterative conditions but as I’m not a GP, only a sufferer, I won’t be going into these. This condition makes you feel anxious; it affects your mental state, physical health and well-being of the soul. The attacks tend to last around ten minutes, no longer than thirty minutes in total. People tend to over look anxiety as a diagnosis because they only seek physical symptoms; it affects your mental and emotional well-being too. There is medication available for this disorder; however it is highly recommended to try self-help – this is the best medication! There are several ways of seeking self-help; published literature, group meetings, one-to-one counselling, healthy diet, staying emotionally balanced, meditation and also exercising on a regular basis (150 minutes per week for adults which equals to around 30 minutes, 5 times a week). Anxiety is something that can be controlled by you; it’s something not to fear but instead to embrace its existence and accommodate your life around it. Anxiety can be beaten!
So, now you know all about anxiety; its meanings, effects, medication, symptoms and success rate, how did I discover that I had anxiety?
Looking back now, I think that I have always had it. For many years I suffered with low self-confidence; I would mentally put myself down, I would embrace bad comments and I didn’t have any belief in myself. At all. When I was suffering with an issue I would have regular emotional break downs; I would sob my heart out to my Mum or BFF and wish that life was different. I would have many down days too; I felt as though I had nothing going for me, so I’d choose to sit in bed all day watching movie after movie. On some level, I do believe that this was depression but even though I felt ugly inside, I always felt on edge. This is why I now believe that it was and still is anxiety.
Like most people, I overlooked it because I was not suffering physical symptoms. I just felt low all of the time and I felt as though I was still “too healthy” to visit the doctor. So, I carried on embracing low self-confidence, stayed in my normal routine and lived my life. That was until my ex-boyfriend ended our relationship last year. This was the best thing he had ever done for me because it forced me to address my emotional issues; I decided to take this year to prioritise my life by focusing upon my academic studies and also finding some self-confidence. I can’t thank him enough for what he did for me, I really can’t. Due to spending time focusing upon “me time” I learnt how to connect with my emotional state; I learnt about the things that upset me, motivated me, inspired me and weighed me down.
I now understand my emotions and I know them inside-out. Being aware of this alerted my concern and this time around I knew that it was about time to do something about it. Last year I went to see Leona Lewis in the Liverpool Echo Arena; I was incredibly excited to see her but while waiting patiently in my seat, I began to feel unwell. I felt hot, dizzy and flushed. My hands were shaking and it felt as though someone was pushing down on my chest. I could feel myself panicking but I couldn’t stop it. After around fifteen minutes it did all suddenly stop. The feelings rapidly washed away, so I returned to what was an amazing and memorable concert.
Then earlier this year I started having similar episodes, only they changed slightly. This one day, I was getting out of the car and I unfortunately smacked my head on the car door. I walked into Aldi and felt strange; I was emotionally worried about my health because I thought the bump on my head was more serious as I’d hit my head full force. I soon believed as though I was about to pass out; the store started spinning slightly and I was certain that I was about to fall on the floor. The tears ran to my eyes, down my face and I couldn’t hold in my worry any longer. Again, after about ten minutes and a large glass of water, I was fine.
Both of these times I continued to overlook my concern because I never had any awareness of anxiety or even panic attacks. Until I visited another music concert, this time at the Phones4U arena and I was seeing Barry Manilow. This time was different because I picked up on the symptoms and triggers straight away. I felt trapped; I was sitting in an enclosed part of the arena with strangers sitting next to me and I had no way out. The massive platform shoes that I was wearing DID NOT help the situation either! I was running to the bathroom backwards and forwards; my body temperature was through the roof and I thought I was about to pass out again. This time, I quickly decided to try positive thinking, deep breathing and whipping off my leggings in the toilet. This actually worked! Again, I returned to a concert that I thoroughly enjoyed and which opened up a new musical legend into my life.
After suffering a third attack, I knew that enough was enough and I went to the doctors last week. This is when I was fully informed about anxiety and panic attacks. My doctor requested that I try self-help before the option of being admitted for further tests or even trying out medication. As I have established, this is a condition that affects the mind, body and soul. I have started my progress by ensuring mental positivity; I am ignoring negative drama and I am only thinking happy thoughts. For my physical well-being I have decided to put myself on a calorie controlled diet and to also induce a regular exercise regime of the recommended times (the ones stated in my intro!). Finally, for my emotional well-being I am focusing on being happy and ensuring that I spend each day doing exactly what I love.
Today, I suffered with another anxiety attack. I was aiming to attend my BFF’s party this weekend but due to feeling alone in the situation, it sparked off multiple sobs and a feeling of being lost. Thanks to my very understanding BFF I’m not attending on the weekend; but this attack today inspired me to speak out about anxiety.
Remember that it affects your mind, body and soul; so do not ignore whatever you’re feeling on the inside and outside. If you’re worried then please do not hesitate in seeking medical help or advice from your GP. I can assure you that anxiety is a condition that can be controlled and beaten. How do I know all this? Well… I’m living proof that you can!