It’s not being shy, awkward and nervous; it’s generalised and social anxiety disorders

It is only natural that from time to time everyone will experience some levels of anxiety, or panic, in relation to events around them. emma blog Often this is linked to the in-built adrenaline based ‘fight or flight’ response. Ultimately however, it passes once the situation changes; but what if that was not the case, and the feelings remained constantly, heightened at the slightest suggestion of a potentially possible reason for them to maybe feel the need to be anxious. 

I had troubles with my level of anxiety around exam periods

The first time I knew I had troubles with my levels of anxiety was before an exam in my final year of school. I was always nervous and insecure, and this was considerably worsened around the exam periods so I thought nothing of it as I set off to sit one of my last exams at school. As I sat there, I gradually became increasingly conscious of my heart racing. My palms were clammy, and I felt incredibly light headed and nauseous sitting in the room of my peers. The scratching of their pens and pencils seemed so much louder, clearer and crisper. My concentration was gone, completely, and it took all the effort that I had to try and stay sitting upright. I could hardly breathe. Ten or fifteen minutes into the exam I had to excuse myself. I was home and in bed half an hour later, feeling completely unwell but not entirely sure why. 

It became a huge adjustment to remain aware of how I was feeling

It was only when I first saw my GP nearly two and a half years later; and was diagnosed with mental health problems, including generalised anxiety disorder, that I understood it to have been the first time I suffered from a crippling panic attack. I had never realised that my levels of anxiety could heighten to that extreme, and it became a huge adjustment to remain aware of how I was feeling and try to keep it in check. It was more than feeling a little nervous, it had become a constant feeling of fear and dread. But at least I had the support of my family and encouragement from my GP too. 

Things people take for granted fill me with high levels of anxiety

Unfortunately it didn't just stop there. For a few years I got on with things, taking medication, trying different therapies and all the while seeing and hearing people putting it down to being nothing other than a little shy and insecure which ultimately does nothing to help. 

Earlier this year I spoke to my GP again about my anxiety, and the things I find impact me the most over and above my persistent feelings of fear and dread. They confirmed a diagnosis of social anxiety disorder, which is even more challenging to explain and avoid presumptions and judgements against than generalised anxiety disorder was. 

Things people take for granted, such as making a phone call, eating in public, meeting new people and being in groups/crowds all fill me with such high levels of anxiety that my heart is racing and every breath catches in my chest. It is, undoubtedly, difficult to understand something with which you have had no experience, and so I never expected it to be easy to explain my conditions to other people. But when my condition itself so cripples my ability to try and talk to people it becomes all the more challenging! 

The best we can do is share our experiences as openly and honestly as possible

Anxiety, I feel, is often overlooked because everyone experiences it from time to time. But I challenge anyone in that moment of anxiety to try and take a second, to think how they'd feel if that was what they woke up with every morning, and what they carried around every day, which was heightened in line with certain triggers.  Perhaps then they might gain a bit of understanding as to why it is so difficult a condition to live with; but until then the best we can do is share our experiences as openly and honestly as possible to give a bit of insight.

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Comments

This is a similar story to

This is a similar story to mine. I'm so glad more people are becoming aware of anxiety and not just calling it being shy. Wonderful blog Emma can really relate :)

Anxiety

I also live with GAD, currently doing cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness meditation to try and cope with it. Lots of days are a struggle and it's impossible to make others understand what it's like. I can't do normal stuff like going to the hairdressers in case I have a panic attack, queues especially in supermarkets are an absolute nightmare. I'd love to know that this will ease in time.

Agreed

Thanks for sharing, it describes me so well. Anxiety has destroyed so many relationships as well as making it impossible to pass exams. Sadly it is all put on the shoulders of my extreme dyslexia, I share the symptoms with bi polar disorder and anxiety and depression but all are lumped under dyslexia. To be honest loosing my job due to anxiety made me realise it was the admin involved and my inability to do it that gave me crippling anxiety attacks pretty much daily. Mental health issues are like a soup, people need to realise that you don't tend to get one, you have many and they replace each other, it's very hard to have a perfectly good day.

Brilliantly said

Love how you've explained it. So many people say 'I know how you feel' when you try to explain you have GAD, yet rarely have they been through it to actually understand the difference between occasional anxiety and permanent anxiety. Just wanted to say well done for writing it, as horrible as it is for anyone to experience, the more who speak up about it the more who will hear, and hopefully start realising the true impact anxiety can have on people.

EXTREME ANXIETY/PANIC ATTACKS

I have suffered from extreme anxiety and panic attacks for some years. Due to misdiagnosis for some time this only worsened the problem. My GP tells me there is no help available on the NHS so I have spent thousands of pounds seeing psychologists/psychotherapists/private hospitalisation etc. I feel totally alone, very scared and my lifestyle has been limited a great extent

Anxiety and Panic Attacks

This story has hit home for me in a few ways. I have been dealing with anxiety, panic attacks and depression for two years now, each day is a challenge but I have good support from the people around me. when i first went to my GP about it I was scared that there would be no one out there that could help me or that we wouldn't be able to afford it but I managed to get councillors which luckily was paid for by the NHS. Maybe this is because when I was first diagnosed I had just turned 15 so I was legally still a kid, but legal or not every person who suffers from a mental health condition, may it be anxiety, panic attack, depression, bi polar or anything else, we should all get the help we need and we shouldn't have to worry about medical bills as well as trying to get better and get into recovery. Everyone deserves a chance to have a great life, whether they can afford help or not, everyone deserves it

so true

Thanks for posting. My daughter is now 11 and has been suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder for a few years (and separation anxiety since 3 years of age). She finds that things she can sometimes cope with are always in the background, waiting to bite. Today she struggled to get to school, but eventually did it,with support. She hasn't had an issue with going in to school for about 8 months now! This is where we find some people are lacking in understanding, her anxiety is always 'there' its just that she is dealing with it, so when days happen where she can't they find it strange. Good luck for the future. X

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