Last week I graced you all with Mother Perry’s Guide to Post Natal Depression. Depression and Anxiety can go hand in hand for some unfortunately. In fact, they did for me. So, this week I have delivered a guide to Anxiety.
Feeling Anxious or Suffering From Anxiety?
I have suffered from Anxiety for as long as I can remember. I also know many people who have suffered from Anxiety. So, believe me when I tell you that Anxiety is ruthless.
Technically speaking Anxiety is a feeling of worry over a specific event. The NHS describes Anxiety Disorder as the feeling of worry over a wide range of day to day situations.
Feeling worried or nervous over events like interviews or tests is perfectly normal, this does not necessarily mean you suffer from Anxiety. Anxiety Disorder is a limiting condition. This is when you worry about things like travelling to work every day or meeting your friends and family for coffee. These simple occurrences should not make your stomach twist and turn but for people with Anxiety, they do.
What Is Anxiety?
I’ve covered, technically, what Anxiety is but what are the symptoms. There are some generalised symptoms such as: feeling restless or worried, difficulty sleeping, heart palpitations. Although, as I said earlier I know many people who suffer with Anxiety and I can tell you that It’s not as easy to define as that.
For me, Anxiety is mental and physical. Mentally, I am triggered by the likes of a lack of detail. I need precision. For example, if somebody says they will “be in touch” (in this case I need to be told when and how or I start to panic). Another example would be if somebody is running late and has not contacted me (I need to know why they are late, where they are and when they will be with me). Sounds annoying to the person on the receiving end, doesn’t it? But imagine how annoying having this condition is for me.
If I don’t have attention to detail, I start to suffer physically. Physical symptoms include:
- Biting my lip
- Biting the skin around my nails
- Pulling individual hairs out my head
- My stomach churning
- Difficulty breathing
- Panic Attacks
You Are Not Alone
Because everyone’s experience with Anxiety is so varied, you can feel a bit isolated. I’ve collected a few different experiences from Mental Health Bloggers that may be supportive to you. If so, you should go and check them out because you might just find that they need your support just as much as you need theirs.
Gail – MumForce
My anxiety starts with the feeling that I have stopped, completely still but the world around me has gone into warp speed. I hear only white noise and intrusive thoughts and my skin crawls like I have a hundred dirty ants crawling on my body. This feeling starts after something “I can’t control” or “bad” happens then it’s a knack on effect of obsessive rituals of cleaning, reorganising and general irrational tasks to put everything “right”. To release the feeling that everything is imploding inside my head.
One of the things I do as it hits, is to open all the windows. Even if it is snowing and minus 50 outside because I have to let all of the germs out of the house. I was told round the time I started to experience OCD and Anxiety that a constant flow of cold, natural air will stop you from getting sick…so I obsessively do that. My thinking is that as I clean, the germs will and fly out the window…Sounds crazy right? But in that moment, it makes perfect sense to me.
Jo – Mad and Sad Club
Anxiety for me is like a constant undercurrent, that sometimes gains momentum and overwhelms me. Generally, my anxiety is triggered by a lack of control or feeling of failure. The biggest trigger for me is work -in my previous job as a Head of Comms, I felt like I was fighting Anxiety all day, every day. Now I work for myself, it’s different and I’m still discovering the new and not-so-exciting ways anxiety is rearing it’s ugly head.
In terms of physical symptoms, my sleep and my stomach are the first things to go. My mind will race and it will take me hours to get to sleep, or I will wake up multiple times in the night. I’ll constantly have a bad tummy – feeling sick in the moment that anxiety is at it’s highest, or like I constantly need to go to the loo.
I also am not very good at recognising when my mind is not in a great place. So often these physical symptoms are a good wake up call for me that things arern’t right and prompt me to look at how I’m thinking or feeling, making some changes.
Where To Get Support For Anxiety
Firstly, if your anxiety is becoming unmanageable you should seek advice from your GP. Make a note of what triggers your anxiety and what symptoms you get and discuss these.
If you don’t feel ready to talk to a doctor or feel like it can be helped without a doctor then there are charities such as Mind, Time to Talk, SAMH and Samaritans that I’ll leave links for at the bottom. Their helplines are great because everything can be kept anonymous if you wish.
Self Help For Anxiety
Besides medication, what can you do to help your anxiety?
- Make lists. If you’re anxiety is worsened by being disorganised then make little lists. Believe me it’s therapeutic.
- Tell people about your anxiety. If people know that you are suffering they might change how they respond to you in order to help you feel better.
- Cut out the caffeine. Okay so you’re supposed to practice what you preach however this one I haven’t managed to do BUT I’ve heard it is amazing for easing your anxiety.
- Cut out drugs and alcohol. You don’t have to give up the alcohol completely but most drugs come with anxiety as a side effect. Ever get that anxious feeling when you are hungover?
- Belly breath. Belly breathing really helps me. Take deep breaths in and out and focus on you belly expanding and getting smaller as you breath out.
- Meditate. Try belly breathing into your meditation. There are some great videos on meditation.
- Practice mindfulness! This one I cannot recommend enough! Mindfulness is when you become very aware of your surroundings. Focus on colours, sounds, light and shade, how something is made. The trick is the more time you spend thinking about your surroundings, the less time you have to think about your worries.
Coming from somebody who is very familiar with a panic attack, I know that breathing is easier said than done sometimes. However, if you are really struggling with your Anxiety or mental health please don’t hesitate to give me a message via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Email me.
Samaritans are available online or at the end of the phone call 116 123
Mind is a UK mental health charity who also have a hotline. Find the info here.
Time to Change have hundred of useful personal accounts of Anxiety that you may find useful. These articles are written by every day people like you and me.
SAMH is a Scottish Mental Health charity for Scots. They have stories from real people but also host regular fundraising events to support the cause.
Finally the NHS has a huge range of contacts available for various different mental health conditions click here for more information