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Firstly, I will always write in a “we” or “us” format because I want to be someone you can talk to without feeling judged or like you are alone – because that certainly is not the case.
Secondly, this blog is an all-friendly space where you are more than welcome to reach out to me through social media or just read along and hope you find some useful tips and tricks or just learn. In this blog, I will answer questions I have personally been asked over the years or just questions I wish I had found on the internet when I too was afraid to reach out and ask.
REMEMBER: Most things you are scared/worried to talk about most people have either been through it or are going through it as we speak. So, please, never be afraid to reach out to someone and to talk or ask questions that may help you. Find someone that you are comfortable to talk to and just be honest.
What is anxiety?
Let’s get started, anxiety is your bodies way of expressing fear. Most of us have been brought up around people with anxiety or have anxiety ourselves, or both. Think about your most boisterous friend, do you think that they struggle with anxiety before leaving their house? Probably not. I think you will be surprised to know that in fact, the answer is probably yes. With all of the expectations around us in today’s fast-paced world, it is hard not to have felt some kind of anxiety at some point in our lives.
What can anxiety feel like?
I want you to come into my imagination for roughly one minute. Imagine you are an ant. Anxiety can sometimes feel as though we are ants, carrying big rocks on our backs and trying to get home in a hurry without anyone stepping on us (full on I know but stay with me). Home to our comfortable place, our “safe place” if you will. Those big rocks that we are carrying on our backs are things like social media, expectations from family members or important people in our lives, the daily pressures of popularity, sometimes expectations we put on ourselves etc. There are so many reasons we can feel anxious but they are just a few to keep you in my imagination.
Imagine being that ant, imagine scurrying your way through rough terrain with a huge rock on your back just trying to get to your safe place. Your safe place is all you want right now, it is all you are thinking about. And now on top of that, you are starting to worry about whether or not you are even going to make it home. What if someone steps on you? What if a car drives over the top of you? What if you trip and that big rock that is on your back fell flat on your body and you cannot get up? With all of these questions flooding through your mind you are now starting to get hot flushes, you start to panic, your breathing gets heavier, you cannot seem to calm yourself down and by this stage, you are now having a panic attack or also known as an anxiety attack. It can be so very daunting to go through this yourself or to witness someone else going through the stages of a panic disorder.
These feelings and/or thoughts can be extremely daunting. Over 2 million Australians struggle with anxiety. TWO MILLION.
If you start to put that statistic into perspective you start to see that anxiety is quite common. Also meaning that you are not alone and there is help out there.
Ryan Reynolds says here that he struggles with anxiety every day and that you are not alone.
My friend says she/he has anxiety but I don’t believe that it’s a real thing.
If you are someone that has never believed anxiety to be a real struggle to others here is maybe why:
- You have never experienced an anxious feeling yourself.
- You struggle with anxiety yourself but hate to admit it.
It is totally okay to be a person who doesn’t think anxiety is real but it isn’t okay to put another person’s feelings or thoughts down in a negative way, purely because you don’t experience those particular emotions. Try to be open to things you yourself are not familiar with and try to be a supportive friend in any way you can – they will thank you for it later, trust me.
Common daily thoughts/feelings when leaving our “safe place.”
- Chest pain.
- Hot flushes.
- Feeling like everyone around you is staring at you
- Everyone is judging you.
- A decrease in sexual desire.
- Meeting new people is scary
- Difficulty in focusing.
- Zero self-confidence.
- Eye contact is a no-go.
- Heart palpitations.
- Spending time with more than 1-2 people is extremely daunting.
What do I do if I start to have an anxiety attack or what if someone else is having one?
Now, before we move on you need to know I am no doctor or therapist, all of my writing is coming from personal experience only.
If you are having previous symptoms and are feeling like that ant, here is what I do in those situations:
- Step 1: Stop those short and fast-paced breaths and start to breathe longer and slower. In and out.
- Step 2: Actually admit that you are anxious or not calm about a certain situation. Pinpoint the issue.
- Step 3: Go for a walk or a run. Exercise and fresh air will actually help you calm down.
- Step 4: Think of the last time you were so carefree and visualise yourself like that again.
- Step 5: Think the situation through. “Will this matter to me in a weeks time?”
- Step 6: Listen to your favourite music. Try to avoid heavy metal as it may just make you angry and make you start to breathe heavy again.
- Step 7: Drop your shoulders and centre an object. This may be looking at a certain stuffed toy or grabbing your favourite necklace when you feel anxious.
- Step 8: My tip for everything: WRITE IT DOWN! Sometimes we can’t explain the way we’re feeling at certain points in our life and sometimes simply writing those down can help more than you may think.
Do we overcome it or learn to live with it?
Personally, I don’t think you overcome anxiety as such, I think we learn to deal with it. When we are happy they’re known as “highs” in life right? I think the longer we are on top of the world, the easier anxiety seems to get in terms of coping. The second we are thrown down from our highs, the harder anxiety seems to be all of a sudden. As our days go on, life can throw some pretty nasty lows at us, which for some, can make dealing with anxiety seem impossible. In life, it has always been a necessity for me to need to focus on positive aspects rather than the negative (as it should be your priority too!) I have gone from being an anxiety-ridden soul never wanting to leave my house, to be an optimistic freedom-seeking human that cannot wait to meet new people. If you are wondering how I got to where I am today, I will tell you: “Ease into things but when easing, make sure you are actually taking steps forward and not just telling yourself or others false information that you are taking steps forward.”
And no, it is not as easy as that. It will take time, being open and around people who love and support you and just easing your way through a few steps to help you gain some control over your life again. The best part is that it is do-able and can be achieved.
How can we reach out?
My biggest help came from within myself. There were definitely many of times where I felt like I couldn’t take that step out of my bedroom door, times where I felt I couldn’t speak to those new people, times where I felt like I couldn’t ever get the help I needed. I reached out to online services when I was younger; I felt as though no one understood what I was dealing with both mentally and physically. I started by reaching out to strangers over a keyboard and started explaining the way that I felt. There are absolutely times where I have felt like nobody could ever understand what I was going through or begin to realise how hard simple tasks were for me. It wasn’t until I reached out to my own mother that I began to feel like “hey, maybe she actually does get me.” The more we spoke, the better I felt. I’m not saying that if you talk to one person, once, that your anxiety will disappear because that is certainly not how it works but I am however saying that there definitely are people who go through the exact same things you do and there are people out there who can help.
Should we reach out?
Absolutely! 100 times YES!
Let me ask you something: Should you sit in fear for every action you decide to take for the next 50 years or should you at least try to reach out to someone who has already been in your situation? Let that sink in…
I am scared of being judged if I do reach out.
I am going to be completely honest with you. The world is a harsh place. Very brutal 90% of the time but if you know of someone who is open to anything whether or not they have previously experienced your situation or not then please I ask that you go to them. Some may be able to give you tips or tricks for dealing with anxiety or they may well be able to refer you to someone who can help you professionally. If you don’t want to do that then click this link and have a chat to someone who you don’t even have to look at. Tell them how you’re feeling and they can help you with whatever you need.
Am I normal? Is anxiety normal?
In my opinion, it is normal yes. At some stage in almost everyone’s lives, we have all had to get up in front of the entire class and give a speech or been pulled over by the police at least once. It is daunting. I think it is more the fear of the unknown that gets the best of us and then it seems to go downhill from there. Like I have mentioned above, there are so many people like us out there and there most certainly is helpful advice if you want it. No, you are not odd, weird or stupid. You are perfectly normal! Sometimes we just need a little more reassurance that what we feel is actually okay and there is no shame in that at all.