Let’s talk about something that some people discuss and some people don’t. It’s a thing I never really told anyone about because I’m a private person. I’m not big on sharing personal things with people because there are some things that certain people can’t understand and they make assumptions rather than just accepting this is a thing. Anxiety.
I’ve dealt with it and I couldn’t control at one point in my life. I lived in a world of constant worry, difficulty with focusing on what I needed to do, and feeling like someone was pressing down on my chest and keeping me from breathing all the time. I woke up expecting bad things to happen because that’s where my mind would go or I would have panic attacks. It sucked… A LOT. I attribute most of it to stress and just trying to keep up in college while trying not to disappoint anyone. There are events in life that can lead to anxiety and college was that event for me. There was probably so much more going on back then and I could go on all day but I would definitely say most of it had to go along with what was happening in life at that time. It’s scary to have that feeling wash over you, to feel helpless and not know how to explain what you are feeling to others.
There were times when I would go to parties with my friends and I just felt like the whole world was closing in on me. Those moments left me with rushing out of the house or venue and just standing outside to breathe. A panic would set in me in those moments and I just felt like a blackout was going to come if I didn’t get into a cold area that would calm me down. Some of my friends would be annoyed — we believed in the buddy system so with me running off, that would interrupt their fun but I needed the escape or my anxiety was going to lead to a panic attack. I never got upset about their reactions, I get it but it wasn’t something I understood at the time.
I remember I had a moment in my anatomy lab and all I could think about was the fear of passing out like a girl had done during our first week of classes. Keep in mind this was seven weeks later, seven weeks where I didn’t have that thought but when we came back from spring break it took over my thought process and I panicked. I tried to get out of the room and ended up blacking out because I would forget to breathe when these moments came upon me. That was week seven. Week eight, the same thoughts flooded my mind and my lab TA took notice just as I took another spill. Dead cadavers that I had been around for weeks were now an issue—the moment they showed us the human brain, I was done for.
After those falls, I spent the summer of 2013 between doctor visits because I have a Nurse Practitioner for a mother and she wanted answers. Panic set in when I had to get an MRI because I had thoughts of getting stuck in the machine and it was a pretty small machine, in my opinion. Things started to get better when I took on what it was and realized how I could combat it. Yes, there’s medicine out there but I wouldn’t say I had it as severe as some people I know.
What is an anxiety disorder? I’m not WebMD or licensed/educated to diagnose someone so definitely reach out to a doctor with concerns. Anxiety is a lot of things but to keep it short, you might worry about everyday life events with no obvious reasons for worry. Life just feels hard and it can really get to you. There might be good days but there’s also some bad days. You wake up with the thoughts that something terrible is going to happen or you didn’t do something well enough and that makes it harder to breathe. It sucks.
Why am I talking about anxiety? I had a moment the other day. I was at work and I could just feel it coming on. I’ve always told myself to not worry because God has me but this day was different. Everything just was hard—I felt like the room was closing in on me and I had to breathe slowly while leaning against a table just in case my mind decided to do it’s thing and take me back to Spring 2013. My thoughts were taking over and I was thinking up some pretty negative thoughts about a situation I was dealing with. I was tense and edgy, I was ready to go home because I felt like I belonged in my bed where I could deal with this.
How Do I Deal With Anxiety?
Once again, not even close to WebMD over here. I was a pre-medical student for three and a half years before switching majors but that gives me nothing but the expertise of memorizing the periodic table and identifying mold and microorganisms.
Breathe. Deep breaths.
I literally have to remind myself to breathe. I open my mouth and start utilizing deep breaths because I feel like my nose isn’t doing enough — I just feel like when I’m sitting there trying to fix the situation, I can’t get enough air. Sometimes the things I worry about take over to the point where panic sets in and I forget to breathe which is why I have to take action as soon as a dreadful feeling hits me. There aren’t a lot of bad days but when they come, they hit you hard. Just have to find a way to breathe and calm yourself down. You can take a moment and meditate, block out all the bad from your mind and just think about nothing while breathing — take a moment to just breathe and let yourself feel free.
Talk to someone
This might help some people, I never really have talked to anyone about my anxiety in full depth. I have talked about it to a few friends and let them know why I have to get outside at some point, just to give them an idea of what is happening with my mind and body. There is someone out there that is dealing with what you are dealing with and there is a chance that they can be helpful — I talked to an old co-worker who had anxiety and there was somewhat of a lift each other up and keep each other calm relationship between the two of us. Therapy is a great option, I won’t deny the fact that I reached out to someone a year ago and it was a brief conversation but it helped me know that I didn’t have to deal with it alone. Check out your local wellness center and see what they have to offer.
This is an option that should be explored. Your doctor can try to figure out if it’s a mental or physical issue and there is medicine out there that can help you. I spent my summer doing different tests with a Neurologist in 2013 before I had an answer. I dismissed medicine just because I was already on Accutane which was having it’s fun with my body and because I figured if it got worse I could come back and get a prescription. Nonetheless, a doctor can help you dig deeper and find an answer that might make sense to you. I got confirmation on what I was dealing with and it made me feel better to have an answer. There is medicine out there that might interest you, I do have some friends that have prescriptions and it has helped them greatly. Don’t be afraid to make yourself better.
Finding a Hobby
This could be something that falls into the line of a stress reducer but a hobby really did me well. I read a lot already but I need something else to get lost in because sometimes a girl just wants to do something rather than lay down and read. I started painting and I really liked it. It was easy to get into when you have Amazon Prime right there to help you order some affordable supplies. Painting became my hobby and I loved it, I got lost in it once I started. I really would just spend my time mixing colors and painting whatever I could because it helped me relax and breathe. I would encourage anyone to get a hobby whether it’s painting, drawing, knitting or something that will keep you calm yet busy.
Stress Management + Exercise
I’m grouping these together because I feel like they can tie hand-in-hand. Exercise really became a thing for me in the Fall of 2013. Sam was my roommate and took a branch off of the best friend relationship to my workout buddy. Not only was I working out more but I also managed my tasks so I wasn’t rushing and feeling like I had to get everything done at one moment. I really focused on my stress levels and keeping them down because stress can really get you. Stress is a thing that happens and I know that but it’s annoying. Being overwhelmed isn’t fun and you have to learn to manage it if you want to combat anything that might affect you. Make to-do lists and leave post-it notes, take a quick jog in the morning if you want to brush off some things. Think about meditation or yoga and trying to calm yourself down. Combat against stress with what you can whether it’s exercise or a few stretches.
People that brush off anxiety, don’t understand it or grasp that is can be a serious issue for someone. When you mention having it, sometimes they just nod or give you a sympathetic smile. They can’t grasp waking up in the morning and worrying for no absolute reason and they can’t understand the panic attacks the might be brought on by something that seems so simple but it isn’t to you. My best friend dealt with anxiety. One of my old co-workers has anxiety and I would say it was more severe than mine but I understood. I understood the dreadful feeling washing over you and having to remind yourself to breathe in order to calm yourself down. I understood more than she knew which is why I made myself useful and sent anxiety methods to help her out. We understood something that a lot of people wouldn’t recognize. Lucky for both of us, we never brushed each other off when those feelings popped up. It’s hard for other people to understand though and I get that.
More people than you know have it. Just don’t brush it off, I would say. Don’t brush off anything someone confides in you about. They trust you and might lean on you at times but just remember that you’re providing help in some way. If you have anxiety, I understand where you’re coming from. Be nice to yourself. Remember that. Be nice to someone who might be dealing with anxiety. We’re at a time where we can freely talk about these things because social media is giving up that opening. I don’t think anxiety or anything should be shied away from because it can help someone else that is going through something. Don’t be afraid because you think you’re the only one or someone won’t understand, there are many people with different issues and tons of people that will lend an ear and a shoulder.