My experience with anxiety

Originally, I thought I was just a closed, shy and nervous person who overthought everything and there was never a reason behind it, it was just me. It was during year 11 I realised I had anxiety sooo.. I was 15/16 years old. (Only a year and a half ago!) But what is an anxiety disorder? It’s defined to be a chronic condition characterized by an excessive and persistent sense of apprehension, with physical symptoms such as sweating, palpitations, and feelings of stress. The cognitive explanation to anxiety also described the worry felt to be due to irrational thought processes. A survey in 2014 found that 1/5 people experience an anxiety disorder, more than you thought eh? Me too..

I never really thought anything of it because sometimes I was fine, but other times I couldn’t leave the house without being sick because I was so nervous. To be honest, I just thought I was ill, I didn’t know what anxiety really was. “What are you even worried about?” was a common question I got asked. How was I meant to explain to someone else how I felt when I didn’t understand it myself? So I didn’t.

School started to become a struggle. I would sit in lessons feeling my heart rate start to increase and my breathing become heavier, I zoned out of lessons so often because I was trying to calm myself down before I panicked too much and drew attention to myself. That’s the last thing I wanted, to have people staring at me. I found it really hard to fit in with any friendship group and I still do sometimes, I always worry that I’m not liked, what if they’re talking about me? You won’t feel like that around real friends, they’ll do everything to make sure of that.  And you’d be surprised how many other people feel the same as you do in your year! Remember, 1/5! Anxiety is very common in teenagers, why? Because school sucks! Haha. Not always, don’t worry!

It wasn’t until I stopped eating due to constantly feeling sick from nerves that my family started noticing there was something up. I went from size a 12 to a size 8 in a month. Sure, I was super glad I had lost weight, but from not eating I was always moody, tired, and never listened to anyone. My home life and relationships started to go downhill rapidly which didn’t help at all, if anything it made everything a lot worse.

My first panic attack (a sudden overwhelming feeling of acute and disabling anxiety) is most definitely in the top 5 top 3 scariest moments of my life! I had fallen out with my dad, I was a mess with mascara streaming down my face..attractive. My sister came in to see if I was okay and to talk to me about what had happened, all of a sudden I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My hands and feet went numb. It was as if a thick, dark cloud of smoke was rising up over my head and suffocating me, backing me into a corner with no way of escaping. I didn’t know what to do with myself, I didn’t know what a panic attack was! I honestly felt as if I was about to die (no one has ever died from a panic attack. FACT!).My sister managed to get me to drink water and take deep breaths which eventually calmed me down and I began to feel normal again. I’ll be forever grateful that she was there for me then.

Even though my sister was there for me in that moment, I still didn’t think she’d understand how I felt, I didn’t think anyone would. It’s true that no one knows exactly how you feel unless they’ve experience it themselves, but that doesn’t mean people won’t try to understand and be there for you! I wish I had told myself that. I felt so alone all the time. I felt like I was a freak and not normal. I began to hurt myself because I thought it was my fault, that it was me who was making myself feel this way, I was the only one who could stop it, but I couldn’t. I thought I deserved to feel pain. But it just hurt me more. I wouldn’t wish that feeling upon anybody! It isn’t your fault, it just happens! At least you have a story about what made you, you  🙂 If everyone was ‘normal’ we’d be emotionless zombies!

I told a few close friends how I felt because I realised I needed help, they were amazing to me, they were always there for me checking how I felt. The thing friends helped with most was pushing me to do things out of my comfort zone (not too much to but enough). It started with little things such as going out shopping for a few hours, then it moved onto what I considered to be big things such as going to a New Years Eve party even though I felt my heart was going to jump out of my chest from nerves. One of my close friends at the time made me a pot with ‘memories 2014’ written on it. That helped me more than she’ll ever know! It didn’t have to be a huge commitment, I just did it whenever I remembered really. You’d write down good memories on a piece of paper, put it into the pot and whenever you felt down about things you’d take one out and read it. It reminded me that things aren’t always bad, I just let the negatives override the positives. I 200% recommend doing this!

I was too embarrassed to be diagnosed with anything, I didn’t want to be labelled. Being labelled with a mental disorder is like having a sign super glued to your head, it’s so hard to get rid of and no one will ever forget. So I helped myself, I began to go for runs (I never realised how much stress exercise releases!). Slowly, I began to recover and my anxiety wasn’t as severe anymore. Of course, I still overthink a lot and I still worry about things that no one else does, it isn’t completely gone but it’s a lot better. You can get out of it, you just need to tell yourself that. It may feel as if people aren’t there for you, but they are. If you feel you can’t tell any friends or family then there’s people who are trained to talk to you about it and help you. I did that a few months ago when I was going through a hard time. It’s good to have an outside view on things from someone who doesn’t know you. My dad was probably my biggest inspiration, sometimes it helps to have chats with parents. They may be ‘old’ but chances are they’ve experienced similar things to you (experience can mean better advice) and they’re more than happy to help you, seeing you happy makes them happy! Anxiety is a messy thing, but it’s okay, you’ll come out stronger 🙂

I probably just rambled on here and didn’t really say anything very helpful, but sometimes it’s just reassuring to know there’s other people who did/do feel the same as you!

Love, Keri x

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