Handling anxiety

Roni Laukkarinen
Jul 1, 2016 · 5 min read

I just watched WordPress.tv video about the subject “Handling anxiety” by Tom Nowell who works at WordPress.com VIP. I actually was in WordCamp Europe 2016 in Wien, Austria in 24–26th of June, but I didn’t see that talk, because there were so many talks and obviously you cannot be in every single one of them in the same time. I was prepared to the situation I’d have to give up some interesting talks to watch them later on WordPress.tv.

I have been having anxiety all my life. I have self-diagnosed GAD (Generalized anxiety disorder) for myself, and I am 99% sure I have it. The description of the condition just matches everything. You may ask why I haven’t seen the doctor for that matter — well, it’s a hassle to do that in Finland. I have told my counselors before about this, but they have often minimized the thought and only agreed about it without making any diagnose. But that’s not imporant, the only thing I care about is that I know about my condition.

I watched Tom’s talk about handling anxiety and I noticed something went to my eyes, because everything was just exactly the way I’ve been experiencing it. I also have been eating very poorly for the last 15 years. I often simply forget to eat, sleep, brush my teeth, drink or do the things everyone else seems to have habit for. I suffered from a harsh depression earlier in my life and when I survived from it, years later I still didn’t think those things or myself as that important. Nowadays I “only have” anxiety, but I still concentrate on coding or work for example rather than normal routines like eating.

I sometimes think am I just imaging things, because most of the people around me are saying everthing is okay. And I mostly know everything is okay. But it does not change the way I see the world or the way I feel about things. I can’t help to overhink things, it seems impossible not to worry too much. I have also stopped talking about it with my closest friends or relatives, because I feel like a broken record. I feel they get bored about the subject. And in the same time I know it actually is the same thing over and over again. It’s really frustrating.

Just now I was talking to one of my friends who quit drinking about a year ago because of anxiety. I quit spirits and wines back in 2013 just for that very same reason. A the latest now I know alcohol makes your anxiety worse. If not drinking, the hangover and the long lasting effects to the brain. This is a long story to tell, but in short, in 2013 I was in a bachelor party for my best friend and we binge drank four days straight. After it, I felt a normally hungover, but kinda “funny” in my head. That funny feeling was transformed into a mild brain fog, dizzyness and anxiety and it lasted for a year. I had panic attacks every second week and I simply thought I was going crazy or was going to die. It was between anxiety and a dissociation in a form of depersonalization and derealization and I went to therapy because of that. In therapy I learned to control my ever-looping thoughts and it gradually weakened the condition. Today, I know it’s still there but I won’t give power to it.

I have also realized I really am a introvert. Never interested about the people, never cared about going to stand out, never liked bigger crowds. Not that I would not want to. I do. I was always the one who sometimes got to know more people but in the group photos was that not-that-social, one awkward guy behind other people looking outside the picture while everyone was smiling to the camera.

Some people find it strange that I consider myself anxious or introvert, especially when I do talk to people in the Internet. Well, I always have liked the Internet, I love Twitter, I love conversations with people. I don’t need to think about myself, how to be around people, how to talk to them with my voice, etc. I do not need to think that much. There is no big difference for most of the people, but for me it’s huge.

I also love to talk in real life despite the fact it’s harder for me. I learn all the time, I have met awesome people and I really want to talk to people. That just does not come natural and even if I do, it really sucks the juice out of me. I need at least a day alone after meeting a group of people.

What comes to work and life in general, when I know a person, it gets easier. At work, I can be who I am and I rarely am anxious. When I go outside, it starts again, I start to overthink stuff. At conferences and meetings, it helps if I know one person in the group. If I don’t know anyone, I often skip the meeting. It helps to tweet with the person before the meeting.

I wanted to write this although I know this is just the stream of thought and talking about the subject is quite hard for me sometimes. In WordCamp Europe 2016 I met wonderful people and even got to talk about this subject with Ana Segota with the subject. I’m really glad I went and I’m really grateful about my friend Sami about boosting me, he always does.

Thanks for reading — feel free to tweet or write me about the thoughts you have or meet me in real life in next year in Paris.

Roni Laukkarinen

Written by

Front end developer, WordPress advocate, Entrepreneur, Film Buff, Craft beer nerd, Sysadmin, Social media addict, Blogger, last one in sauna.

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