Time for part 2 of my mental illness journey! Find Part 1 here. I lightly mentioned my life journey with anxiety previously, and this post is a further peak through that window.
Unlike depression, anxiety has been a companion for many years. I’m at a point now where I can no longer remember when my anxiety even began…that’s how integrated it is into my life.
Here’s a list of common anxiety signs/symptoms:
- Feeling nervous
- Feeling powerless
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
- Having an increased heart rate
- Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
- Feeling weak or tired
- Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
Symptoms vary with anxiety, so additional symptoms include:
- Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
- Problems sleeping
- Cold or sweaty hands and/or feet
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- An inability to be still and calm
- Dry mouth
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- Muscle tension
If any of these symptoms sound familiar to you, do not hesitate to reach out to anyone: family, friends or even medical professionals. Any one of these people can help you getto the place where you need to be.
For me, I pretty much can check off the majority of symptoms on both list (I must say I am grateful I don’t experience nausea – it’s a general fear of mine). When you actually look at that list, it’s a lot of things to feel! But I do have to preference by saying that I’m genetically predisposed for some of the symptoms, like heart arrhythmias (palpitations). So you can image the ways anxiety can take a toll on my body. I’m thankful that my anxiety is dealable – traveling tends to sooth me and trying new things isn’t impossible. My anxiety is more socially driven. I have a full fledge public speaking fear (from little to large engagements) – equipped with sweaty palms, slight shaking, sweating, nerves, increase heart rate etc.. Too much going on can send me into a panic (i.e. me and nightclubs don’t typically mix – it just ends up with me constantly feeling like I can’t get catch my breath). In college, my anxiety would constantly keep me up at night simply because I could never just shut off my brain. It’s a battle.
I try my best to incorporate zen into my life. I try to replace caffeine (which to be honest, it typically a fail) with calming drinks. I make lists so I do not have to constantly be thinking about everything. I’ve “attempted” to do yoga..yes I said “attempted”. But no matter what, anxiety will take over every now and again. And that’s okay because there will be a tomorrow when you can breath with ease.
My biggest issue with anxiety is that it is the least respected mental health issue. Anxiety impairs so many individuals lives – it takes an enormous toll mentally and physically. I always have trouble connecting with others and sharing my anxiety struggles because of how people typically react. Anxiety is not held to the same severity as most other health issues, so when you tell someone you have it, the response is typically “Oh just practice more, and you’ll get over it.” Get over it….what does that even mean? You know those words weren’t intended to be a slap in the face, but that’s how they always come out. Like it’s something you can just snap out of. One flick of the magic wand and it’s gone. If only…
Anxiety is one of the biggest challenges anyone can face. No matter how many times I do something, or how many times I rehearse, a wave comes over me and pulls me in. I wish more people understood how asking someone to do something so small, could have a very large impact on their well-being.
Recently I read an article that opened my eyes about who I am – being a social anxious extrovert. For the longest time, I always believe that I must be an introvert because I linked a lot of my anxiety symptoms with introversion. The truth is, as I became depressed, my realization that I need people around me to give me energy became apparent. Then I came across the title “Social anxious extrovert”. A mind that actually contradicts itself – telling you that you want to go out but forcing you to stay in at the same time. A constant battle.
Despite all of this, I am grateful that my anxiety forces me to overcome things. When ever you complete your task, no matter how it went, there is always a wave of accomplishment that you simply survived. I cannot wait to take more steps along this journey and work at dealing with my mental health issues!
With love, Steph