Everyone, whether they’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or not will experience some sort of anxiety at some point in their lives. These are normal responses to certain situations. Such as an upcoming job interview or meeting the in-laws for the first time 🤯 – I know scary right?!
Your brain responds to danger or difficult situations by releasing stress hormones known as adrenaline and cortisol. Even if the ‘danger’ is not real these hormones can cause physical symptoms of anxiety. Once the situation is over however your body returns to its normal state.
But… If you’re unlucky enough to have an anxiety disorder the feelings of fear and danger can continue. Interrupting daily life, long after the threat has gone. Often making things seem a lot worse than they actually are – my life always.
Everyone’s symptoms of anxiety are different, so this is not an exhaustive list (just my list) of symptoms:
Unable to concentrate on tasks (even simple ones)
Irritability (Severe – and doesn’t everyone around me know it! 😡)
Alertness (Like when you hear a creepy noise in the middle of the night 👻)
Insomnia / broken sleep
Unable to eat/swallow
Feelings of wanting to escape
Dissociation (I don’t feel like I’m inside myself, I’m on the sidelines watching)
Heavy and fast breathing
Tapping hands and feet (On my own body or a table/ floor etc)
Dizziness and sickness
Types of anxiety
The most common types of anxiety are:
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Social Anxiety Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
I was diagnosed with moderate to severe anxiety at the age of 16, at the same time I was wrongly diagnosed with depression. Looking back at my childhood, I was always quite anxious or nervous about something. Meeting new people, putting my hand up in class, and asking questions. I was acutely aware of my parent’s financial situation – which worried me greatly. As well as problems in their marriage. Possibly an overshare from them both that caused it. I was worried about my weight, my acne, and if I was good enough for everything and anything. I remember being called ‘Eeyore’ (Cute but gloomy apparently) at school. I think now that it was because I was constantly overthinking the things I’ve mentioned above. Which then led to depression. It’s sad really, to think at such a young age that their view of life could be so dark. An age where I should have had dreams and aspirations, untainted by shitty life that I was yet to experience.
As I’ve only really had the experience of GAD, that’s what I will be talking about.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder
GAD is very common and the main symptom is over worrying about different activities and events that feel out of my control. I tend to always feel anxious and ‘on edge’ most of the time. I have noticed that I often survey a room to find the nearest exits (a door, a window, a staircase), I also try to calculate how long it will take me to use one. I don’t like two-door cars, especially sitting in the back of one as it limits my escape – What if there’s an accident, how will I get out?
GAD affects my day-to-day life. Sometimes I can’t go to work because of how overwhelming and consuming it is. Traveling to places (because I don’t drive) is difficult because the thought of being surrounded by a lot of people makes me feel sick. I will often choose the quietest bus, even letting one drive past if I feel it’s too full. Sometimes the overthinking makes me sleepy and other times I can’t sleep because of the racing thoughts. My body gets stiff and causes aching from holding myself so tense. I sweat, I breathe heavy and faster, and sometimes I will stammer when I speak.
It’s common with GAD to suffer from other psychiatric disorders such as depression. It’s difficult to diagnose because we don’t all share the same characteristics when we are anxious. You’re likely to be diagnosed with GAD if you have felt anxious for most days over six months and it has a great impact on areas of your life.
I think over the years my anxiety has improved. Day to day life it has minimal impact, I guess because I take medication (Pregabalin) for it, as well gaining confidence at university and numerous different jobs. I push myself more often to do things that make me uncomfortable, I talk to friends and family about what is worrying me and they give advice from their own experiences. It’s comforting to know I’m not alone. I’ve also found Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to be useful – but at times of great anxiety, I’m not always capable of putting it into practice.
My advice for anyone suffering from anxiety is to talk. Talk to your friends and family, talk to your doctor, and talk to a counselor. Things that make you anxious aren’t always bad, if you don’t try you’ll never know. Work on it – even if it’s smiling at a stranger that passes you, saying hello to another dog walker. Take someone you trust with you to new places and try new things.
Worrying never robs away tomorrow of it’s sorrow, it only saps today of it’s joy.
Oh and fuck anyone that says “Stop worrying” – Ok, Karen, thank you. I think my anxiety has all but disappeared now. Maybe you should become a doctor?