Friday, July 22, 2016 / 6 Comments

What No One Will Tell You About Having Anxiety



I think it goes without saying that everyone agrees that having anxiety is the worst. It gets in the way of friendships, relationships, work, school....so basically it affects everything. And it's hard to deal with. It seems like it's with you constantly and you're fighting it and dealing with it at every moment that you're awake.

I don't usually mention my anxiety or any of the other mental illnesses that I suffer from because I find the subject embarrassing to admit. I know I shouldn't- mental illness is just as valid as a physical illness and shouldn't be something to be ashamed of. Deep down I know this, but in a way, I never mention it to my friends, some family members, or even romantic partners because it feels like if I do say I'm struggling with my anxiety, or am having a panic attack, it feels like I'm admitting defeat and giving into my anxiety. Which is probably a weird mental rule I made for myself due to my OCD (that's another subject for another time), but because of that impulse and habit to stay quiet about my anxiety, I have decided to be more outspoken and honest about my struggles. Especially since I've been following Nicole over at Thrifty Vintage Fashion, who is an advocate for raising mental health awareness and has been so open about her own experiences (please check out her blog! She and the blog are amazing!)

I have decided (courageously, if I do say so myself) to start writing about my mental illnesses, but hopefully in a funny and uplifting sort of way. Mental illness already causes so much darkness and stress into the sufferer's life, that I want to provide a humorous yet informative and relatable way to express what I go through, and what many other people go through as well.

So please, enjoy this list of:

 What No One Will Tell You About Having Anxiety

It Affects Everything In Your Life
Going to run some errands? Anxiety. Going out with your friends? Anxiety! Going out on a date? ANXIETY! Going on a trip to a far off place that requires a long stay on an airplane for lord knows how many hours and then you're in a completely different place faraway from the safety of your house? ANXIETY ANXIETY ANXIETY!!!!!

If you have generalized anxiety (and panic disorder like I do. I mean, what don't I have?), pretty much everything can stress you out. What some people think is the most simple thing (running errands, driving, shopping) requires me to take time to mentally prepare for an outing, even if it's something fun, like going to a movie or just a nice night out with my really good friends. But in order for you to actually conquer or even just face your anxiety, unfortunately you have to do the things that scare you. Which can be pretty much everything for people with generalized anxiety, but for people with situational anxiety, it can be something very specific, like a crowded place, a small enclosed place, or other more individual things. But honestly, the best feeling is when you're super anxious about doing something, but you go anyway and you have a great time. Most people wouldn't think twice about going out, but for people with anxiety, it's a hard journey but the end result of you conquering that awful anxiety makes the experience worth it and even more special. I have so many great memories of concerts, trips, and outings I've gone on because of how anxious I was about going to them but I went anyway. Each time I don't stay home and let my anxiety win is a victory. And remember: small victories are still victories!

You Probably Will Plan for Every Perceivable Outcome- and Pack Accordingly
Your purse or carry-on bag become your lifelines. When I have to go out or travel, I take my BIG purse and pack accordingly: Emergency anti-anxiety meds? Check. Food in case my blood sugar drops and I get light-headed? (I get hangry, okay?) Check. Wallet? Check. Phone, fully charged with everyone's current contacts and with music and multiple podcasts downloaded onto it? Double check. It may not seem like much, but just knowing you have some helpful items with you, just in case you need them, is a huge relief. 9 times out 10, you probably won't need them, but in those rare instances that you do freak out, you have those supplies to help or calm you down. And wherever I go, I always look for the bathroom- it's a good place to go if you need privacy and do some deep breathing to calm down. If I'm traveling, I usually bring a checklist (and an itinerary of where we're going, hotels, phone numbers, etc) of everything I've packed, including medications (don't leave home without 'em!), to reassure myself either in the car or the plane that I did in fact pack everything. Going out and traveling is supposed to be fun, so being prepared can help put your mind and anxiety at ease!

Your Therapist Will Become Your Frenemy
There is no one else in the world who will understand exactly what you're going through. Therapists and other mental health professionals are the experts in anxiety/panic. It's so important to find a therapist that understands you and that you trust, because working through anxiety is a tough job for both parties and you have to be dedicated to getting a hold of your anxiety. Your therapist will become your biggest ally: you'll confide in them, they'll advise you, they'll reassure you that you're not crazy and that anxiety is incredibly common and that you can definitely get it under control with enough time and effort...But your therapist will also become your enemy: they'll encourage you to push yourself, challenge your fears, and put yourself in anxiety-inducing situations. And you'll hate them (temporarily) for it. But that mean-seeming shove is actually a caring push in the right direction, towards finally getting that anxiety under control. In the long run, you'll be so grateful for all of the effort your therapist- and YOU!- have put towards your mental health.

A Lot of People Won't (or Will Never) Understand What You're Going Through
And that's totally okay. There are a lot of things that other people go through that I don't understand, but while I can't empathize, I can certainly sympathize. Others though, may question your anxiety or find it "annoying" because it's a hindrance to them (I'm not at all quoting an ex-boyfriend of mine. Nope. Not at all. Please notice the "ex" prefix in front of "boyfriend."). "Have you tried exercising? Diet? Holistic herbs? Ritual blood sacrifice?" are probably some questions you may be asked. Or you may have problems with friends or significant others who just can't "deal with it" and it's "too much" for them to understand (as if they're suffering more than YOU!). If so, drop them like a hot potato and stick with your friends and family who are your allies and who you can talk and confide in (a support system, if you will). If someone really loves and cares about you, they'll accept you, anxiety and all.

It's Totally Okay to Be on Medication for Anxiety
Despite what Mr. Tom Cruise and other wackos say, it's completely acceptable to be on medication. A lot of anti-depressants will also help with anxiety, plus there are some psych medications specifically made to help combat anxiety. There is no shame in being on medication if it helps you lead a better life. Mental illness is just like any other illness that requires medication. Some people try an anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication for a short period of time and go off of it, but some, like me, have to stay on their medication indefinitely. And that's totally okay and normal. But for a lot of people with anxiety or another sort of mental illness, medication and therapy together works wonders. So find what works for you, and don't listen to what others (I was going to use a bad word instead of "others" but I decided to stay classy. Sometimes I hate being classy) say. Be concerned with YOUR mental health and what makes YOU feel better.

You Just Learn to Live with It
For some people, anxiety is something they will always suffer from. The "lucky" (I put that word in quotes because anyone who suffers for any amount of time with anxiety is never lucky. Everyone who has anxiety suffers) ones will only have it for a short period of times, but others aren't so "lucky." I, unfortunately, will probably always be one of those people whose anxiety will stick around for the foreseeable future. Sometimes my anxiety almost seems non-existent and I can lead an almost-normal life (you know, with all the other mental stuff I have going on), and other times, it seems to consume my daily life and it's a struggle to make it through the day without breaking down. But I have hope because each day that I'm suffering from anxiety, I fight it each day. I still go out, I still try to have fun. You can't let anxiety rule you, even though it threatens to take over your life. It can be managed and handled, and you can still lead a productive and fulfilled life, even if it doesn't seem like it some days. You are more than your anxiety. Don't ever forget that ♥

Thanks so much for reading! If you suffer from anxiety, I hope you could relate to some of these and I hope my tips and encouragement helped a little. It's a good reminder to myself, as well. This post was incredibly therapeutic to write. Much love to anyone who has anxiety! Keep up the good fight!

-That Weird Girl Emily
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6 comments:

  1. Some lyrics that I remembered while reading was something like "tell me your doubts and fears cause they are probably just like mine." Everyone who knows me, knows I sometimes am overly talkative about my issues/problems and dreams and everything in between. I think there is a good balance and as we grow up, we find it. As I grow up I realize we are all just humans and have faults but we are all still beautiful. Thanks for posting!!

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  2. Thanks for commenting! I'm jealous that you're so open and honest! I wish I could be more like that, which I am trying to be, but it's so hard to change. Thanks for all of your positive vibes!! :)

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  3. Thanks for sharing!! As I mentioned, I think its a balance because you don't want to over share or tell people what you are going through all the time or maybe thats my experience. Ive had people tell me I talk too much or even got that I am an emotional burden or I shouldn't let people know this or that. So Ive been working on keeping to myself and dealing with my own problems and learning to just say nothing. I don't know if its my ego that wants attention from others in recognizing my problems as significant or if I just want to make an emotional connection with people. All I know is meditation seems to help me find peace and comfort in being alone. I even contemplate sending this message, wondering if it has any benefit or is it to fill my ego and say someone is listening to my problems so I feel important. I took down my facebook recently and thinking of deleting my instagram and retreating into nature and just continuing music, art and writing with no need to share. Once again, it comes to being balanced. Maybe some distractions are better than others, but being distracted by media and social networking all the time has taking a toll on me and I feel I create art, music and write to share and to get recognition, instead of just creating to create. So hopefully I can find that balance again and realize I am only human and will make mistakes and that our imperfections are what make us unique.

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    1. It's funny that you mention taking a break from social media, because I'm actually doing just that this week! Not that I'm an oversharer (which I don't think you are! I'm actually very envious about how open you are), but I'm kind of sick of the barrage of information that's forced on us and I think I need a break. If you do end up going social media free, let me know how it goes for you!! :)

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  4. You've hit the nail on the head with this post, particularly when you talk about how even the small things or fun events can trigger feelings of anxiety. It's a relief knowing that we're not alone in how we feel because sometimes people just don't get it and can make us feel trivial. Thank you for posting this xxx

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    1. Oh my goodness, thank YOU for such a kind comment! Living with anxiety isn't fun and it's definitely not fair, but you're right, knowing that there are others who know exactly what you're going through makes it tolerable because at least there's a community out there who understands. I hope you're doing okay living with your anxiety xo. Thank you again for your wonderful comment, and for reading my post! <3

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