Anxiety is a term frequently used by anyone and everyone generally to describe a feeling of nervousness or worrying such as before an exam or job interview.
I’ve mentioned my anxiety a few times in my posts as it’s one of the main side effects of PTSD and other mental illness’ so I wanted to take a minute to explain how having anxiety can actually feels to someone like me:
- A constant cycle. My anxiety is not generally caused by anticipating something like an exam which I would relate to as nervousness with butterflies in my tummy. I have a wide and varied range of triggers which can be anything big or small from feeling out of control, watching Tv for too long or talking about/ watching/ reading something violent or distressing. But unlike butterflies and clammy hands it is not fleeting but lingers for up to days at a time and builds up usually until I crumble and then it’s just a waiting game for it to happen again.
- It’s all in your head. Well it’s not actually. Anxiety is every bit physical as it is emotional and mental. I experience breathing problems, heart palpitations, dizziness and if it continues for more than a few hours I start to panic, my derealisation (often the trigger of anxiety) gets worse and I am unable to sleep, have nightmares and struggle to get out of bed in the morning. And that’s just for me personally, different people will have other side effects often a lot more extreme than mine.
- Feeling trapped. There is no medicine or cure that can prevent or stop my anxiety unlike a physical pain where usually you can just take some painkillers. The best thing for me is to is distract myself and do breathing exercises but there is no guarantee that they will work so it leaves you feeling out of control and unable to escape. Sometimes I feel like I desperately want to get out of my head, get away from myself and just make it stop.
- Unfortunately unavoidable. As I said I have lots of anxiety triggers and many, such as a violent film, can be avoided most of the time. But I can’t control other people and what they say, do, or any subject they might bring up. Just a word can trigger a memory for me and I can literally feel my head swooosh whilst I fight to stay in control. Fortunately the stronger I get the less susceptible I am.
- Exhaustion. It’s so so exhausting. I’m sick to death of it and PTSD I hate hate hate it. It brings such strain to my life, prevents me from doing things I want to, stops me from enjoying myself when I should be and just makes me feel physically, mentally and especially emotionally knackered all the damn time.
So when someone tells you they suffer with anxiety take it seriously. And don’t think you can’t help either! In fact the best remedy for me is keeping busy which makes people the best antidote. God knows I would struggle so much worse if I didn’t have my boyfriend, family and friends to keep me occupied and often just being sat with them and chatting soothes me (see below, having a laugh over breakfast lifts my mood).
Obviously I don’t always have that support whilst I’m here alone, consequently my anxiety is the worst it’s been for months. Happily though I’ve just discovered that a few of the volunteers with me in the Maldives have found and read my blog, so I don’t feel like I need to it hide as much anymore! But it’s an important reminder that just because you cant always see a physical manifestation of mental illness that doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Of course there are many different ways anxiety affects my life and it will vary for others but hope I managed to shed some light on how living with anxiety feels and you can probably tell it’s not pleasant at all! There needs to be a better understanding of the disorder so please share, help spread some awareness and please be there for anyone who has anxiety issues like me.