This is not a post about anxiety. What is written below is how I live with anxiety. That wording there, that’s very important.
I live with anxiety.
1. accompanied by (another person or thing): a nice steak with a bottle of red wine. / in the same direction as: marine mammals generally swim with the current. / along with (with reference to time): wisdom comes with age.
So many people see anxiety as a component of a person, a controlling aspect, a part of the brain that keeps on malfunctioning. In my opinion, this type of view is completely falsified. Everyone has their own story, and you might might disagree with me. You might have anxiety and find you are powerless to inhibit anxiety’s temperamental and tedious tantrums. Your anxiety might be ten times worse than mine. However, in my mind and in my limited and personal experience, anxiety can be controlled (though, unfortunately, not always). Sometimes, when you feel an attack coming on you must take control of your mind . Channel Arya Stark and Syrio Forel from Game of Thrones and say: Not today.
First, I should tell you, I am self diagnosed. One particular day, last December, I was feeling the usual stomach upset, shaking hands, and dry mouth. I wasn’t alarmed, just pretty subdued. I drove to work and arrived in the parking lot. It was christmastime: the parking lot was mad. As soon as I saw how busy it was I experienced a new sensation: absolute dread. I pulled into a parking spot and I was a little too close to the parked car beside me. That was when it happened. In hindsight, I remember coming to a few moments later, the world coming back into focus. At some point I had put the car into park and I’d started crying. That night I looked up all of my symptoms and discovered I’d had an anxiety attack. Suddenly, everything clicked into place. All those times I felt queasy, or ridiculously nervous, shaky, and exhausted were because of anxiety.
Now that I understood the root of the problem I decided that I could battle it.
Triggers & Obstacles
Phone calls: As I write this I am gathering the courage to call my driving instructor to continue my driving lessons. I’ve been gathering this courage for about a month now. Most people don’t think twice about phone calls but for me, the simple task turns into one riddled with anxiety. Just thinking about it now, my heart is beating quickly and my hands are getting shaky. It is very inconvenient– to say the least.
Facebook: My trouble with phone calls is the same with Facebook. It’s an inexplicable aversion to these technologies that make me wonder if in my past life, I was born in the 1800s or earlier.
Tea: I love tea. Perhaps it’s just the British half of my heritage but I could make myself a pitcher of the stuff and be quite content. Unfortunately, in reality I cannot do that. Not unless it’s decaffeinated. I once had three cups of tea without eating more than a slice of toast and, I believe, all that caffeine triggered an anxiety attack.
Tired all the time: One of the most popular questions I get from my grandfather is, “Why are you always so tired.” Putting aside the fact that my stress levels are at their highest during the school year, my fatigue does not changed while on holiday. I’ve taken a blood test to see if there is anything physically wrong with me and it turns out I’m in wonderful shape (knock on wood). I read somewhere once that having an anxiety attack burns around the same amount of energy as running four marathons. So, living with anxiety day-to-day takes it’s toll. One of the hardest things about living with a mental “disorder” is trying to explain it to people around you.
Despite the fact that explaining your anxiety to people is difficult I believe it is important to voice that you live with anxiety to all the people you love. It is important that they know and that, even if they don’t understand, they take it into consideration.
Ohmygod lavender is one of the most amazing things on the planet. Not only does it naturally deter mosquitoes, and calm cramps, it also calms your nerves and your anxiety. Lavender is one of my favourite plants. It has a unique personal meaning to me, but it is so amazing for so many reasons. I have two bottles of The Body Shop Divine Calm Sublime Body Lotion and I use the lotion on my stomach (for cramps) and on my arms and pulse points for anxiety.
Chamomile tea works similarly to lavender. The great thing about it is there’s no need for sugar (another possible anxiety trigger) and it tastes delicious.
Just Breathe. When you’ve got anxiety or you can feel an anxiety attack coming on it is crucial that you breathe. In and out. In and out. In and out. If you breathe too quickly, or your breathing becomes shallow you might be loosing the battle, so get it under control.
While I concentrate on my breathing I also repeated my mantra: “I am okay. I am okay. I am okay.” When your anxiety starts, your mind begins to fear things around you. Everything becomes a challenge. Last night I found a spider in my bedroom and I almost immediately began to cry. I do have a fear of bugs but my panic was the result of the combination of my irrational fear and my irrational anxiety that’s constantly within me. I had to breathe. I had to tell myself I’d be okay. I just have to grab my pillow and go downstairs to the couch. I am okay. Once out of my bedroom, I slept soundly.
The thing is, you can’t make your anxiety go away, but you can make it a little smaller. I want you to know that you are in control. You might have those days where anxiety gets the best of you but there will be days when you beat your anxiety.
What do we say to the god of Anxiety?