Anxiety can be a lonely place, but it doesn’t have to be – this is the strongest lesson that I have learnt over the past few years. It was a simple lesson, but it wasn’t a quick one to learn and there are days where I still don’t practise it.
Anxiety is quite a common disorder, and we don’t talk about it. We should.
I really want to share my story with you, and as part of that, Kandidly Kerry and I collaborated to get a conversation going.
Anxiety has been a part of my life since I can remember, I was an anxious kid (who often got labeled as ‘emotional’) who then grew into an anxious adolescent (who often got labeled as bratty or hormonal). And after many years, I’ve grown into an adult who is learning to handle my anxiety. But I do still have bad days – we all do. Underlying all of my labels, I was just a scared and terrified kid. My anxiety did what it does to so many others, it changes your perception of situations, conversations and of events.
For me, simple situations such as going out to the movies with friends would get me worried – excessively. Or going on camp would put dread into me. This was social anxiety, the fear of large groups of people, the worry of speaking directly with one person, the anxiety routed around what people thought of me.
And then there was the irrational worrying. Perhaps you know this one too. Sure it’s normal to worry – but spending hours on end fearing or considering all possibilities of an event (such as driving somewhere), not so normal. Being a kid and asking if money was ok or if there was enough food for everyone, making sure lifts were organised multiple times or even waking in the early hours to check if all the doors were locked – not normal.
Today, nearing 30, I can easily say I suffer from anxiety – but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have bad days (boy, some days are rough and end in tears as well as a good cry on my husband’s shoulder). Today, after years of carrying worry, fear and anxiety with me every day, it’s sort of the norm – I know when to distinguish between anxiety and not.
The stigma of anxiety has been strong, but over the past few years I’ve started seeing walls break down. Simply knowing what anxiety is, how to help someone close to you deal with it or merely knowing when to be there for someone with anxiety can make the world of difference.
I’ve learnt a few ways to deal with anxiety (and sure, some of these techniques go straight out the window during a panic attack or an anxiety fuelled worry),
- Learning and practising mindfulness. I wrote another post on this, you can check it out here. But basically, being mindful helps in those anxious moments. It helps to ground you in the moment. Moments which, when anxious, do not exist and are not cherished.
- Gymming and moving more. There are some days that all I do is mope around the house, of course this isn’t healthy. But what I’ve found works for me is yoga, gym (at home of course, far too much social anxiety for a gym) or walking around our garden. Movement gets the blood flowing and slows the brain – win win really.
- Living a healthier lifestyle. I don’t know about you, but I find when I cut out refined sugars and carbs (bread, cakes etc), my worry and anxiety calm. There are scientific reasons for it – but whatever the reason, I’ve definitely found it works for me. Also, if you find yourself binge eating or comfort eating during an anxiety fuelled afternoon – consider this one, it’s hard in the beginning but breaking that habit will save you.
- Finding comfort with family and friends. It’s hard opening up to those around you about anxiety. But you can find comfort in talking (or simply crying) with someone who knows about your anxiety. Create your support system.
- Journaling. I suffer from anxiety that makes me incredibly forgetful (again normal apparently!), but journaling and keeping track of things helps me look back and rationally realise that everything. Is. ok.
Anxiety is hard to live with. But you are normal, you are ok and everything. Will. be. Fine. Please reach out if you suffer from anxiety and if you are strong enough today, please talk about it.
Not sure if you suffer from anxiety? Check out these 12 warning signs.