Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Anxiety.

Anxiety.

A small disclaimer: All views expressed are those of my own and my own experience with anxiety. I am in no way describing any one else's experience of anxiety or presuming that it is how everyone else feels.

I dont intend this post to be negative or triggering, as I feel it is too easy to let things like this consume you with bad feelings, but I do want this post to be honest.

When did I discover it

Anxiety. It can be a life changing thing. I feel like the above picture describes how I feel whenever my anxiety springs into action, a mess, a struggle and a massive complication in my life. I first started realising I had anxiety issues when I began university. The majority of my friends were loving university life, being away from home, meeting new people, but it started to scare me quite a lot. I was alone a lot of the time, in a small and confined bedroom in Uni halls. We drank a lot of alcohol regularly because it was Freshers, we stayed out until the early morning and everyone surrounding me was new. I'd left the comfort of friends that I had for years to friends who were practically strangers. My life began to feel completely out of practice and foreign to me.

The first time my anxiety started to interfere with everyday life was when I began working full time in retail during my second year at Uni, as I started to become scared to leave the house for no reason and whenever I was at work I would be panicking that I couldn't just "get out". 
  It really took a turn for the worst last year when I left a job I was really comfortable and happy in to start working at Harrods in London. I couldn't control my anxiety at all and my loved ones would spend hours at a time trying to coax me out of a very dark place. It continued to wreck my career and turn me away from job after job. The extreme anxiety took over my life until around August this year.

What triggers my anxiety

I started to realise my anxiety was based around a lack of control or decision making. I get it often when a decision needs to be made and I am the only person who can make that decision. Whether its deciding to take on a new job, deciding what to wear that day or even deciding whether to leave the house to go to work. It can be incredibly difficult to explain to people that the reason I am "sick" is because I can't physically get myself to leave the house.

Things that can trigger my anxiety are certain noises, usually loud beeping or sirens. Sometimes certain songs can cause me upset for no reason or the noise of a lot of people surrounding me can lead to panic. But other times I could be fine and suddenly out of nowhere I just need to "get out". When I say "get out" I don't mean that I am stuck in a small space or shop and want to leave, I just feel confined wherever I am and I need to go somewhere alone to breathe.

How can I manage it

I turned to IAPT at the start of the year to be put on the list for anxiety counselling, however, although I was told my case was "severe" they then took me off the waiting list weeks before I was due to receive the counselling. I wasn't told why, I just received a very blunt letter in the post. I can't quite believe they'd act in such a brash way towards a patient considered "severe".

Luckily I made the decision to visit a private doctors who saved me from my downward spiral. They convinced me to go onto anti depressants which I was strongly against due to a very bad past experience. They listened to exactly how I was feeling and referred me to a hypnotherapist. Although the hypnotherapy didn't work out for me, they continued to try other methods and I eventually got to see a counsellor. The counselling sessions worked miracles and alongside the anti depressants I felt my life was finally back on track.

Previously, I described wanting to "get out", I found the cure for this feeling usually involves being able to be in an open space with the sky in view. The way I cope is that I normally look up at the sky and I feel more relaxed instantly because I feel spacious and alone. But sometimes, all I need to do is have a hard cry and let the frustration out.

What does it feel like

My anxiety feels like everyone is surrounding me and I can't breathe properly. It feels like even if I closed my eyes there would still be a busyness inside my head that I couldn't escape. I often get chills up my arms and legs and I can't speak properly. I often find it hard to explain what I am going through or why I am panicking. I often start playing with my hands frantically or fiddling with an object erratically.

How can you help

I know the one thing I am thankful for is the people who also suffer with anxiety and how supportive we are of one another. But those who do not suffer can be faced with the unknown. I had some awful experiences with a previous manager who did not want to understand my anxiety and chose to see it as an excuse. But if you're reading this and you don't understand anxiety, please don't feel guilty, please don't blame the person or yourself for it and certainly don't turn them down if they offer an explanation.

 I can't even understand my own anxiety - which is terrifying enough, but if someone was faced with a me in a severe panic attack, it must be scary for them too. The best thing to do is just to let the person know that you are there, you don't have to speak much or at all, you don't have to attract attention or call for help. Just simply tell the person you are there to help, ask if they need anything / anyone and try to get them alone in a calm environment.

Anxiety can really hook itself onto peoples lives and stop them from doing amazing things and opportunities. But once you separate yourself from it and understand that it is not you that is the hindrance it is the anxiety, you can start to try and manage it and learn how to get by. Everyone has issues no matter how big and small, the important thing is that you don't let those issues define you.



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