Okay, let’s just say it right now. Anxiety effing blows. Anxiety screws with your self image, it messes with your entire day, if not week or more and it completely changes how people view you. Anxiety sucks, plain and simple. But, that doesn’t change the fact that anyone who suffers with anxiety, (and that means you my dear reader) is a completely normal human being.
Yet, people like to act like if you deal with anxiety (or any mental illness) that you can’t possibly live a normal life or be a normal person. Yes, we have an affliction that we deal with. But anxiety is pretty damn common. In fact, over 40 million American adults (that’s 18 and older) deal with anxiety and globally, statistics say that 1 in 13 adults suffers from anxiety. Those are some damn large numbers. Which is why I reiterate, if you have anxiety, you are still NORMAL. Maybe knowing that helps, maybe it doesn’t. I know I felt a bit better after learning that. And speaking of, since I’m writing about anxiety, I might as well be honest. After all, that’s the whole point of this.
Hi. I’m Melissa and I deal with anxiety. I was clinically diagnosed with C-PTSD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder as recently as September of 2018. I was originally clinically diagnosed in 2017 and started therapy and meds. The severity of my anxiety was slowly downgraded through the months but after a pretty traumatic experience, I was re-diagnosed with my original diagnosis. Which sucks, but I’m working on it. I believe in being open about mental health and mental illness. After all, if people can openly discuss what sex acts they like and describe them in great deal, why can’t we discuss our issues and have a dialogue about them? Especially when so many people feel that they are battling this alone.
That’s the important thing to remember. You are NOT alone. Even when it feels like it. Anxiety is a damn liar. It like depression, likes to tell us that we are alone, that no one understands, that no one cares even. And no. Just no. Tell your anxiety to shove it when it tells you that. It can be so hard to do that, but try.
So what does anxiety look like? Well, it’s different for everyone especially since there are both psychological and physical signs of anxiety. The most common signs include: feeling restless, fearing the worst, feeling tense, rapid heartbeat, and headache. But everyone is different. My signs tend to include sweaty palms, racing heart, shortness of breath, feeling like cold water dripped down my back, feeling tense and jumpy. And if I ignore the signs, I usually end up curled up in a ball, feeling dizzy and sick. Depending on the degree of anxiety I’m experiencing, insomnia is common for me. Last week, I went 37 hours without sleep after an anxiety attack. That was murder. There is no such thing as a wrong or right symptom of anxiety.
Anxiety is real. And it can be terrifying. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I see people romanticizing anxiety or taking about how cute some “anxiety mannerisms” are. Like what the f—? Just no.
So, how do we deal with anxiety? Well, like the symptoms, there’s no right or wrong way to handle anxiety unless it’s to NOT handle it. You can’t just ignore it. It doesn’t go away for good, it always comes back. I get it. Not everyone can afford therapy or therapy itself doesn’t work. And that’s why we have to find other ways to deal with it. Most of the time it’s just a re-direction of thought that helps and other times dealing it head on helps. In case you’re having trouble finding ways to cope with your anxiety I created a small list of ways to try and handle anxiety attacks. These are things/tools I have tried myself and hope they can be of use:
- Go for a walk and clear your head.
- Yoga and/or meditation.
- Write about it. Start writing in a journal or even blogging. You can keep a private blog if you don’t want everyone to see your thoughts. You can get a free wordpress, blogspot, livejournal or even tumblr and set it as private.
- Work on that project you have been ignoring. Maybe it’s a photo album, or a bookcase that needs to be built, start decorating your planner for the next week or even the next month. Redirecting our thoughts by keeping busy can help bring an anxiety attack to an end.
- Create a playlist of soothing music that you enjoy and when you start feeling that anxiety creep up, start playing it.
- Take a warm shower and let the water run over you. Take your time and wash your hair, and exfoliate that gorgeous face of yours. Sing in the shower. Even if you have a shitty singing voice.
- Watch a comedy. Need some suggestions? Try The Good Place, How I Met Your Mother, Miss Congeniality, Penelope, Robin Hood Men In Tights, Absolutely Fabulous or Men In Black to name a few.
- Talk to someone. And if you don’t believe that you can talk to anyone try IMAlive or 7 Cups, both of which are free, though 7 Cups also offers inexpensive counseling!
- Try out some mindfulness apps to try and soothe yourself. A couple of my favorites are My Oasis (which is actually a game but is pretty soothing. Free with some ads that you can choose to ignore), Wysa (is your own therapy penguin! You can talk or vent to Wysa, practice (cbt) cognitive behavior therapy or (dbt) dialectical behavior therapy techniques and meditate, Free download; has in-app purchases), Colorfy (a coloring app that you can use on or offline. Free with ads and in-app purchases).
- Read a new book or keep a couple mindfulness magazines like Breathe or Flow. Both can be purchased at bookstores or online and have great articles on well-being and usually offer small papercrafts too.
- Take a break from social media. Just completely unplug. Put your phone on silent or even turn it off. Stay off the PC. Unwind.
- Sleep. Sometimes sleeping will ease the anxiety flow.
- Take a bath. Light some candles. Put on that soothing playlist or read and just relax. Try out a new face mask, toss those bath salts in. Just enjoy yourself.
- Dance your heart out. Blast some upbeat tunes and just start dancing.
- Video games. It may sound weird but it can work. I’m a casual gamer, meaning sometimes I game a lot and sometimes I don’t touch my games. But I’ve noticed that sometimes just starting up a game, any game really can help calm me down. Again, it’s the re-direction of thought.
That’s a wrap for now but I’ll be making some other mental health posts in the future. If you came across this post I hope you found it useful. What sorts of things do you do to help combat your anxiety? What bothers you the most when it comes to anxiety? Leave a comment and let me know!