Today we’re going to talk about understanding anxiety!
More specifically, what I consider to be a good day with anxiety.
For me, a good day means I was actually able to eat 3 full meals. When I’m in stressful situations and am having panic attacks I usually can’t eat. It’s honestly becoming almost normal for me to go up to 8 hours without eating when I’m out doing stuff because I’m that anxious. Fortunately, this rarely happens at home. For me, my house is my safe place. Particularly my bedroom. I love people, but I’m extremely introverted so I can only handle being around people for so long. I have times where I can’t even handle being with my family and just retreat to somewhere alone. Okay, this happens almost daily. But, usually, I spend most of my day in my own little world. I listen to loud music with headphones and write. Because of this, I can handle being with my family in the evening. I get overwhelmed by people really easily and sometimes this leads to anxiety attacks.
A good day means I didn’t have any full-on panic attacks. I categorize my attacks into anxiety attacks and panic attacks. An anxiety attack for me isn’t super severe. It usually entails nausea, irritability (I get super irritable and can lose my temper really easily if I’m triggered. I’m sorry to anyone who I have gotten angry at because of this.) And having trouble focusing on tasks. A panic attack for me entails pretty much every symptom I wrote about in my last post about anxiety. It’s scary. Sometimes it almost feels like an out-of-body experience. I could be sitting somewhere and my body is completely freaking out but my brain is completely calm. This is so hard to explain. But it seriously almost feels like my brain and mind becomes detached from my body. It’s weird and scary. It’s pretty common for me to be so stressed and anxious that I’m calm.
My Anxiety Has made me a Hermit
A good day probably means I didn’t leave the house. I’m basically a hermit. Honestly, I actually haven’t left my house except to go for a walk around my neighborhood since Sunday. That’s 3 days. That’s super normal for me. I have so many weeks where I literally leave the house maybe 3 times in the entire week!
A good day means I accomplished several things on my To-Do list because I could actually focus. Sometimes when I’m anxious my brain almost completely shuts off and I stop thinking and can’t focus on anything. It’s weird. Something that I do when I’m home and anxious is I will start to just clean everything in the house. I don’t know why. It rarely actually calms me but it just gives me something to do besides staring at the wall. I remember one day when for almost no reason I was just off and couldn’t stop cleaning. I was home alone and when I started running out of things to clean I started getting more and more anxious. It took a phone call with a good friend to break me out of my cleaning cycle. Even then, I kept cleaning and organizing for a while why we talked.
A good day means I could talk about getting sick or listen to people talk about it without being triggered. It means I probably exercised. It means I was actually happy for an entire day. I have had times where I have so many stressors close together that I need days sometimes even weeks to get back to normal. A good day means I was able to laugh. I love laughing, but when I’m stressed I get so stuck in my head that I just can’t find stuff funny.
Understanding Anxiety Means Understanding that Good Days Don’t Always Mean No Anxiety.
A good day doesn’t always mean that I had no anxiety. It means that what anxiety I had, was so minimal that I could ignore it. I was talking to a good friend recently and she found it funny how I think about my anxiety: It annoys me more than anything else. She was talking about how scary it is for her. And then I just was like ‘Yeah, I have this and this and this happening but whatever. I’m still gonna do what I want.’ It is funny to think about how I think about it. I could be sitting there having a panic attack and my thoughts are like ‘Come on, we have to do this now? Can’t you just leave me alone? Ugh, whatever, I’m still gonna do this.’ For me, full-on panic attacks are so normal that I’m just like ‘whatever’ about it.
I have had a lot of good days recently and that is amazing! Actually, while I was writing this I realized, I’m not being triggered by thinking and writing about this. I want to say that talking about my anxiety is often a trigger. It is almost impossible for me to tell someone audibly to their face about it. That is why I have turned to writing.
One thing I’ve come to Understand From Anxiety is How Much Writing Helps it
I am a writer. Not because I chose to be one or have worked for years to be one (albeit I have written for years and each thing I write helps me improve.) I am a writer because when I sit down with a pen in hand or at the computer. My thoughts magically connect and I can articulate my feelings in a way I just can’t audibly.
Anxiety has helped me develop my writing talents. It is so hard for me to speak the words in my brain about it. But, if you give me a pen and paper and leave me alone I can just write it out so descriptively that you can feel the emotions.
One thing I’ve realized recently is that I want to use my trials with anxiety to open up the minds of people about it. I don’t want it to be something that people feel the need to hide. When someone has cancer they tell people and everyone rallies around them and is there for them. When someone has depression we shun them and question why they’re depressed when they have an incredible life. Why is it so hard to accept those whose illnesses are mental and not physical? Why do we feel the need to hide them? I know that most of these illnesses aren’t really understood.
Understanding Anxiety Means Understanding that There isn’t Always a Reason and that Is Very Hard to Live With
I want to say something if someone ever tells you they have a mental illness. DO NOT EVER ask them why they have it. A mental illness is not something that you choose or have control over it. Mental illnesses choose you. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich and have everything and are famous or if you’re dirt poor and have nothing or just anyone in-between. None of that matters. Please also don’t really try to understand it if you don’t have it. I know from experience that unless you have experienced a panic attack you really can’t understand it. It’s exactly the same with all the other mental illnesses. Just do your best to be there for the person, support them, and listen to them. You don’t need to try to fix them.
If the only reason I have anxiety is so that I can write about it, then I am happy. I can relate to a lot of people through it.
If you need someone to talk to about a mental illness you can reach me here.
Thank you for reading my thoughts. Sorry if I tend to go all over the place.
Soli Deo Gloria,