1. Introduction to Anxiety
It may be surprising to know that 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year and that anxiety is the most common mental disorders in Britain. This statistic baffles me as in my experience, most suffers are not that willing to talk about their anxious feelings openly for fear of people's reactions. As a result, for a while before I started blogging and talking to others about it, I literally felt like I was the only person on this planet that suffers with it! I know when I had my first experience of anxiety, I felt stupid for not being able to stand in a crowded school hall for assembly. I would make up excuses to not go to school or I would 'hide' in the toilets as to not put myself in that particular situation. People would ask me 'why can't you just stand there for 10 minutes?' or 'why are you always in the nurse's office?' The very thought of standing in a warm assembly hall, in lines, packed like sardines, scared the life.. out.. of.. me. To this day I still can't think of anything worse. I would break out in a cold sweat and start to shake. That 10 minutes felt like 10 hours. Anxiety is not stupid, it's a real mental condition that can completely ruin your life if you let it! Sufferers convince themselves that a relatively 'normal' event would literally turn out in the worst way possible. I would think in that 10 minute school assembly I'm going to faint, split my head, throw up in front of everyone, I'll stop breathing; those are the thoughts that circulated. That is the gist of anxiety and in particular, social anxiety.
So what causes Anxiety?
If you are naturally a worrier then by genetic makeup you are going to have more anxious thoughts that someone who is more care-free and easy going. Most of the time anxiety is triggered by a stressful moment, a trauma or another 'bad thing' that has happened in the course of life. What I find interesting is that sometimes the sufferer doesn't even remember the particular 'event' that caused the anxious feelings! I have a friend who for a while couldn't step foot through the door of a restaurant, the cause was unknown until she went to a counsellor and through talking to her, all became clear and even she was surprised at the cause! Some suffers however will never know the cause of anxiety, if there even is one! Sometimes it just happens for no reason at all.
What are the symptoms?
- Increased heart rate
- Feeling sick
- Tight chest
- Dry mouth
- Choking sensations
- Heart Palpitations
This is when someone gets stuck in vicious anxious circle! If I find myself in a situation that triggers my anxiety I begin to have the majority of these symptoms. However, I automatically start to think that the tight chest is a heart attack, the sweats are the result of a fever and the hyperventilation is the result of something seriously wrong with my lungs. These negative thoughts only make me more and more anxious and there comes a point when I have to try and take control of my thoughts, divert my thinking elsewhere and take A LOT of deep breaths to try and calm myself down..
Here are some physiological symptoms of anxiety which can in some ways feel more scary than the actual physical symptoms...
- The thought that your going mad - 'no one else is experiencing this'
- Thinking that you are going to die
- the feeling that people are looking at you in a strange way and judging you in a negative way for your anxious behaviour
- Feeling on edge, loss of concentration
- Feeling completely detached from the environment your in. Yes I stood in that dreaded assembly hall when I had to for 7 years of school but I could not tell you one word that was said or who I was even with.
- Wanting to avoid situations that you think will trigger your anxious thoughts.
- Wanting to escape from the situation - running away from it. - In my case, sometimes literally causing more of a scene than if I had of just persevered.
Thank you for reading and I hope to have the next part in this sooner rather than later x