10 Things Only People with Anxiety Understand

Approximately one in five adults suffers from anxiety at some point in their lives. For some people, the mental trigger for our flight or fight response that kept us alive while we lived in caves, can malfunction and trigger an adrenaline surge without much reason.

Mental illness of any kind can begin due to a variety of reasons, everything from being involved in a traumatic event to stress from your job. In every case the situation can be managed, for example this website provides useful hints in regards to work stress burnout and this one can advise for those with depression. Although none of these sites, helpful as they are can truly replace professional assistance from a Mental Healthcare Professional, however they can still provide you with helpful tips.

Anxiety can make you terrified of taking action, and this is so much worse if you feel you’re on your own or that nobody will understand you.

I was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) about two years ago, and thankfully because I received the support I needed, I was able to see a trained professional who has helped me to understand and manage my condition.

Here are the ten things that I now understand about Anxiety.

1. Causes of Anxiety Don’t Have to Make Sense

An anxiety attack can start at any time and come from anything. Even something that is normally enjoyable to me such as seeing my friends or going on holiday can start an attack. The major point to remember is that whether the cause is logical or irrational it feels the same.

2. I Could Destroy the world

OK, probably not literally, but an anxiety attack can cause me to take irrational leaps in cause and effect. If I don’t answer a phone call it can lead to the death of a loved one, or an off the cuff remark could lead to my entire family disowning me. With anxiety, it can feel like small things will lead to overly large, dire consequences, and although I understood that the chance of it happening was remote, I could never bring myself to take the risk.

3. Come In There’s Plenty of Room

My anxiety connected to and triggered other psychological conditions. Initially, my obsessive compulsive thoughts increased. I would obsess over my actions and their outcomes. I also briefly suffered from depression as I struggled to resolve these issues. I have heard stories of other sufferers becoming too anxious to leave the house and becoming agoraphobic.

4. Distrusting own Feelings

I have spent so much of my life feeling nervous I now find it difficult to separate out what I should and shouldn’t be nervous about. In the early days of my therapy I was berating myself for being nervous before a driving test or a job interview, as if nobody else was anxious at these times and it was wrong of me to feel nervous. I was so used to feeling irrational anxiety I wouldn’t allow myself to feel anxious in any situation.

5. There’s Nothing Wrong

It took me many years to admit to myself that there was something wrong. Maybe because there weren’t any tangible symptoms, like a rash, or a cough but I would always choose to run away from anything that made me anxious. It wasn’t until I started to face up to these feelings of anxiety that it become clear that there was something wrong and as my life started to seriously suffer, I knew something had to be done.

6. I’m Super-Nice

I, like many other anxiety sufferers are super-nice people. Being so in fear of offending people, we go out of our way to make sure that we are the least offensive and most pleasant people you’ll ever meet. Though, no matter how nice I was, it wouldn’t stop me worrying that I had inadvertently insulted someone, or that I was unwelcome.

7. Anxiety is Tiring

My anxiety doesn’t allow me to relax. Imagine waking up and starting to count out loud, even while you’re trying to do other things during the day you have to keep counting. That’s what my mind was doing; the nervous thoughts were a constant background noise that I couldn’t turn off. My sleep suffered, and my coffee intake increased, and caffeine is now understood to increase anxiety so clearly wasn’t helping in the long run.

8. Finding the One

The thing that helped me the most, was finding someone to talk to. I was lucky enough to have two, both professionally (my therapist) and emotionally (my wife).Because I was able to tell them truthfully and honestly about the feelings I was having, and even though they may not have understood the cause of these feelings, they understood the effect it was having on me.

9. Choose Your Words Carefully

If you are talking to a sufferer of anxiety, phrases such as ‘calm down’, ‘you’ll be fine’ or ‘it’s not that bad’ are useless. It’s like screaming at water to stop flowing. You may think you’re helping us, but if it was as simple as that we would have done it a long time ago. If we’re honestly telling you how we feel, we don’t expect a logical or rational answer from you. We understand that you can’t fix us with a sentence. We just need you to listen to us, and not to judge us.

10. The End

This is the most important thing that I learned. The brain-ache the intense feelings, it can and will end. It may not feel like it at the time but you can control your anxiety, you can get your life back. If you feel that you may be suffering from anxiety, please seek advice from a trained professional. Take it from me, it’s not worth ignoring. You’re not on your own, and there is help available.

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