Saturday, April 9, 2016

Anxiety: Is a Trap

Anxiety is real. It is a mental illness. I know these things because I am a victim of anxiety. Unfortunately, there are many people who do not understand anxiety; Whether it is a lack of understanding or it is because they have not been educated or do not have the initiative to do the research, or just out of ignorance is beyond me. If it is the later that is a shame and I plead anyone who does not know anything about anxiety to take the time to learn. I do believe it is easier to understand what someone is going through no matter the illness if: a) they either have it them self or b) they have a close loved one or friend who struggles with it.

I can only speak for myself but I do not use anxiety or any other illness physical
or mental as an excuse for attention. I would like to take some time to explain to you my experience with anxiety and explain what an anxiety attack looks like in my life. I am documenting my experience of my anxiety and attacks for the sole purpose of educating others in the hope that my testimony will help others who may not understand anxiety to be more compassionate and knowledgeable.

 Anxiety: What does it feel like?

When I am having an anxiety attack it feels like time stops but yet it does not stop. This feeling is like nothing other. It is very difficult to explain as it is very complex. In the middle of an anxiety attack I feel more things at one time than my mind and body feels it can handle. Anxiety causes my body to make me feel like I am trapped and my brain freezes. I've had times where I stare blankly into space.

My mind also tries to process too many thoughts at once. I can take one comment and consequently spin it in so many different directions that my mind creates ways for me to take the comment out of context. Literally my mind tries to make up reasons for the comment and/or I am try to analyze it which only creates more problems. Anxiety can be brought on by just one comment that I take the wrong way or take it too sensitively, consequently it rocks the boat and thus sometimes causes me to explode. An explosion can look like a bottle of soda that had been shaken prior to being opened.

An exploding soda is like an adult temper tantrum. Adults have temper tantrums? Yes! Temper tantrums can happen at any age. When I explode it does not happen because I did not get my way, it is because I am so overwhelmed that I need an outlet to defuse my energy. Imagine if you shake a bottle of soda and then immediately take the cap off. What happens? It explodes of course! Why? The pressure of the carbonation trapped inside of the bottle is greater than the air pressure outside of the bottle thus causing it to explode. Scientifically speaking the bottled up carbonation is forced to become a gas again.
My response in relation to having feelings bottled up inside of me causes my own kind of explosion. My explosion diffuses through crying, screaming, throwing, and kicking. All of these things do not necessarily happen at one time or even happen every time I have an anxiety attack. My therapist tells me that these actions are merely my outlets to diffuse my bottled up energy. Just like the trapped carbonation, once the cap is removed from the bottle, I too will eventually explode.

Anxiety: Support Systems

I have found that there are a variety of support systems available. I have mentioned one already, therapy. Professional help of course if a very important resource. No one likes to be vulnerable; Although it can be difficult to talk about our most intimate self with others it can be very helpful and be healing to talk to someone who is knowledgeable in mental health. Another resource is family and friends. Know who you can talk to and who you cannot; And just because you can talk to them does not mean they are the right person to talk to. I have unfortunately experienced sharing something intimate with someone who I know cared about me deeply but was incapable of giving me any kind support, including a listening ear, in my time of need. This was very painful. My suggestion is to know who you can turn to when you need to talk. Especially in the case that you cannot get in touch with your therapist, or s/he cannot offer you a therapy session sooner than the one you already have scheduled. Another type of support is a support group. Sharing your highs and lows with a group of people who similarly suffer from anxiety can make you feel less alone in your state of loneliness. It gives you the realization that you do not suffer alone, that you are not the one person in the world with anxiety. I have not personally been involved in a support group but I have heard great things about them. Lastly, I advise you, if you have not already done so, to use the social media platform Pinterest. Through simple searches on Pinterest, using the key-word "anxiety," I have found pins that have helped me to recognize the symptoms of my anxiety.

I leave you with this if you suffer from anxiety know that you do not suffer alone; if one of your loved ones or friends suffer, do them a favor by learning how to be compassionate and learn what anxiety is all about. Sometimes just being there by their side is all they need from you.

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