June 5, 2013

KellyI have anxiety to such a degree that I am often terrified of doing the simplest of things, such as leaving the house. I realise that a lot of people nowadays experience anxiety, or have heard about its symptoms/affects.

If you haven’t felt anxiety before – imagine you look out the window to see your puppy/kitten/child in the middle of a busy Road, the pure terror in the pit of your stomach, and adrenaline kicking in around your body as you prepare to act.

Now imagine that feeling without any physical threat causing it, the terror is unknown, just a feeling of dread that manifests as an abyss in your stomach, your brain unable to calm itself against an unknown threat, feeling the adrenaline coursing through you, with no outlet, causing your whole being to tremble, a racing heart, sweating, shortness of breath, nausea, feeling weak/drained. This is what I go through every day, and people need to realise just how difficult this is to live with.

Some people do not see anxiety as an illness

I am extremely lucky to have a supportive partner, who tries to understand and support me when I have an ‘episode’. My parents try to understand and support when they can but other people’s perspectives on my anxiety is a different kettle of fish!

People who have not seen me in my worst moments, or even having a mild panic attack, who do not see anxiety as an illness, make me feel like a bad person, especially when they avoid you. Often, it is people’s silence that can seem worse: by not asking how you are, or making general chat it seems like they are unsure of how to treat you or, even worse, they do not believe there is anything wrong.

I talk about my anxiety but people do not know how to respond

I have lost friends because I struggle to arrange meetings for coffee in case I have a bad day and cancel last minute. I do not mind talking about my anxiety but people do not seem to know how to respond to it and often leave me feeling ashamed about the anxiety as they do not understand how I cannot get a grip on it and conquer it.

I have found it difficult to explain my situation to people in the past when they do not attempt to understand but just tell me to ‘face my fears’ or some such inspirational saying, which would leave me more demoralised. Unless you have experienced anxiety on this level it would be near impossible to understand, let alone empathise, so I do not blame people for doubting the extent to which anxiety can affect a person’s life but people need to understand that this is a very real issue for those living with it.

My partner and family have supported me and that helps

I have recently been signed off work as the stress has finally buckled me. I cannot continue to live like this, continually fighting has left me exhausted, often nauseous, and if I do not conquer my issues now, I fear I may never lead any kind of life. The worst part was telling my family as, although they have been supportive, I am aware of how disappointed they might have been with how bad things have gotten for me.

I have been lucky that they have been very supportive, contacting me regularly to make sure things are going ok and discussing therapy sessions (as I often find talking about what I have learnt/discussed helps to ensure I have taken as much as possible from the sessions). I do not know how I would be coping without having somebody to speak to and cannot thank my partner and family enough for doing what they can and not giving up on me.

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