You may have read my last post about my experience with depression, which I've decided to share with you all because it's World Mental Health Day. This post is an explanation of what it's like to have anxiety disorder. Sharing your story about mental health can help decrease stigma and also remind others who are struggling with their own mental health that they are not alone. If talking about my own struggles can help just one other person, then it's worth it ♥ Thanks to all of you who took the time to read my posts today.
Having anxiety is ridiculously draining. I worry constantly about so many things, and a lot of what I panic over is irrational but I cannot do anything about it. I've always been nervous when it came to meeting new people or being in busy social situations. Speaking in front of groups and doing presentations at school were like hell for me; I was even terrified about reading out in class or being asked to answer a question. I now understand this was all attributed to the anxiety condition that started to fully surface around three years ago. It makes feel inadequate, unimportant and annoying. It makes me worry about everything I've said to people. I overthink conversations I've had with people hours after; I get nervous when I'm replying to texts and I have to re-read things several times before I'm comfortable enough to send/post them. I overanalyse everything! I think about every bad scenario that could possibly happen whenever I go anywhere or do anything. I apologise all the time, and I'm always worried that I have somehow annoyed someone. Anxiety has made me dread going to places on my own. I experience difficulty speaking to people I don't know. I get nervous when I'm paying for things in a shop because I'm worried that I'll hand over the wrong amount of money or I'll say something silly when the cashier speaks to me.
Phone anxiety is one of my biggest struggles... I can't answer the phone. I have to prepare myself for ages for a phone call that I cannot avoid and I feel nervous even when talking to someone I know, especially when the call is unexpected. I fear going to the doctors/dentist, travelling alone on public transport, being in extremely crowded places, ordering food when I'm at a restaurant. Being anxious about all these things makes me feel ridiculous and it's difficult for people to understand how I can be terrified about something that seems so simple to them. I use all the strength I have to still do things with my family and friends, even though I'm fighting a horrible internal battle.
People with anxiety are often faced with a lot of judgement. People say things like 'just get over it' and 'it isn't that bad' or 'I'm nervous too'. It's like they just think we are shy or nervous like the way people get before an important exam or when giving a talk in front of a large group, but it's so much more than that. Anxiety also has physical symptoms that are often ignored. When you are anxious, your body is naturally triggered to initiate the 'fight or flight response', a physiological response that you need in order to survive when you are faced with threatening situations. When this happens, your nervous system responds and you can experience things such as rapid breathing, increased heart rate, sweating, nausea, shaking, stomach pain, muscle tension, and much more. This is what someone with anxiety has to deal with, often on a daily basis as well as panic/anxiety attacks.
I decided to start blogging for many reasons; one of them being that I wanted somewhere I could talk about my life and share all the little things that make me happy, in hopes that this would help me focus on all the good things in my life, and less on the struggles I have to deal with on a daily basis because of mental health and chronic illness. But anxiety and depression are a big part of my life so I'm glad I've had the opportunity to share what it feels like, which I've been wanting to do for a while and have been too worried about what people would think or say.
Thankyou for reading!