What it’s Like Living With Anxiety
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I’m sure everyone gets a little anxious at times and may or may not be overcome with anxiety. I guess you could say I’ve always been an anxious person. I mean, I threw up at my pre-school graduation I was so nervous. Or was I excited? Who knows?
What really is anxiety and should we classify it as a mental disorder?
I really hate that word, disorder. It gets thrown around way too much. Anxiety can be defined as a general term for several disorders that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying.
If you’ve ever had these feelings, don’t worry, you are not alone. There are different types of anxiety and some are pretty much general and some can really have an impact on your day to day life causing you to want to curl up into a ball and cry.
What’s normal when it comes to anxiety?
I’m not sure throwing up at your pre-school graduation would be considered normal. We all get nervous from time to time but sometimes anxiety can become so frequent, or so forceful, that it begins to take over our lives.
I can remember being so scared to go to first grade and leave my mom. I remember standing in the line outside of school thinking I was going to die. Not literally, but I had so many thoughts running through my mind about what things were going to be like. I was so scared.
How can you tell if your everyday anxiety has crossed the line into a “disorder”?
It’s not easy. Anxiety comes in many different forms—such as panic attacks, phobia, and social anxiety—and the distinction between an official diagnosis and “normal” anxiety isn’t always clear.
I can pretty much say my anxiety felt more like it was a phobia based, social issue. Over time and as I got older it came and went but I can say that today, I can pretty much control it.
Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety
- Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
I had all of those that first day of school back in the day. I was so scared. It would also creep up on me in stressful situations and sometimes, I would just wake up feeling that way.
- Problems sleeping
I remember this mostly in 5th grade when I had a teacher that scared the daylights out of me. She pretty much scared everyone but I can remember not being able to sleep on Sunday nights just thinking about seeing her the next day.
Can you say INSOMNIA? Can I just say there were nights that I was so wired up and just could not shut my brain off? It was awful, waking up feeling like a zombie, not being able to go to sleep and when I would FINALLY fall asleep, I couldn’t STAY asleep. this went way past 5th grade. Pretty much up until a few months ago when I finally found something that would help me go to sleep and STAY asleep at night.
- Cold or sweaty hands and/or feet
This was something that didn’t quite develop for me until I went through a divorce and had to deal with a few not so fun issues with my ex. I remember when I knew he was coming to get out daughter on his weekends, my palms were sweaty and I was shaking because I was freezing.
- Shortness of breath
I can’t say this was anything I experienced too much. There were times, and still, are times when I get a bit anxious and have to take a few deep breaths because it feels a bit hard to breathe.
- Heart palpitations
Oh, this one is the best. NOT!! I have thyroid issues so sometimes a heart palpitation is normal here and there but with anxiety, it worsens. You feel like your heart is going to come out of your chest.
- An inability to be still and calm
There are times when my mind is going a mile a minute and I cannot shut it off. All these what-ifs come into play in my mind and I literally want to jump out of my skin and run away from myself.
- Dry mouth
It’s not too often that my anxiety causes dry mouth. Maybe when I have to speak in front of people or say something that I feel may cause tension. It’s like my mouth is drying up to tell me to keep it shut.
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
I’ve gotten this in my hands at times and I feel like if I shake them enough, it will return to normal. It’s like you just want to sit on them until things return to normal. What is normal?
Remember, I threw up at my pre-school graduation. Anxiety can cause your stomach to feel like it’s in knots and send you running to the bathroom for a number of reasons. Ever get that gut feeling? They say anxiety can actually start in the gut. This is pretty much what started to get me thinking about how I can help myself and manage my anxiety.
- Muscle tension
Sometimes you can tense up so bad that your muscles feel as if you had done an intense workout the day before. It really can take a lot out of you sitting there all tensed up for long periods of time.
Difficulties of Living with Anxiety
Living with anxiety can be difficult. It can make almost impossible at times because the simple act of leaving your house may set off an attack. It’s like the entire world is conspiring to make you feel like complete shit and you never know when it’s going to happen. You feel like you could lose your mind at any given time.
I was on anxiety meds for over 18 years. It all came about when I went to counseling back when I had issues with my Ex. Things just got out of hand, I was anxious all the time. Worrying about what the next visitation weekend would bring. The thoughts would go through my mind on a daily basis. I was so worried about losing custody, the stories were just building up in my head making things worse.
Over time and 2 different anxiety/ depression meds I was able to manage my anxiety and felt better. I ended up getting pregnant so they took me off all the meds and I was pretty good for a few years and then it all came back.
When it all Came Back
I found myself feeling “not so much like myself” as I explained with tears in my eyes to my doctor. I felt so overwhelmed with things. It was very hard to get that out but he reassured me things would be ok and sent me on my way with some anti-anxiety meds.
So for the next 13 years, I was on a daily dose of anxiety meds. I tried a few times to wean off of them with no relief. I would make it a few weeks or months and then I felt like my head was going to explode.
It wasn’t until recently, like about 9 months ago that I was able to wean off the meds and go a more natural route to manage my anxiety. I’m not going to say there aren’t days when I feel that I could jump out of my skin BUT I will say things are more manageable than they ever have been. I’m able to live day to day without freaking out about the things that would drive me bonkers back then.
I found great relief in exercise, it actually calms me down. Working on my gut health has also proved to be a great improvement, no more knots in my stomach or feeling like I could puke. I have also found a more natural replacement for my meds. It worried me about the long-term effects of being on these drugs. I looked into adaptogens and found out which ones help with anxiety and depression. So 9 months ago, I was able to wean myself off of the meds and have been feeling pretty much “like myself” these days.
So, if anyone ever admits to you that they have an anxiety disorder, don’t ever tell them that they “just need just to relax.” Because if it was that easy, I think we would have figured it out by now.
I hope you understand that anxiety is totally treatable. Although mine is not as serious as some, it has still been manageable with what I have been doing and I feel like the old me.
I highly recommend if anything about has caught your attention and you shook your head and said “me too” a few times to seek advice from a professional and work on YOU! There is help out there and you are not alone.
If you found this information valuable, please feel free to share it with someone who could benefit from it. I would love to chat more with you on this matter so feel free to comment or message me.
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