It is quite amazing how you can become so used to a feeling, a way of reacting, that you think it is normal. You actually believe everyone feels that way too.
It wasn’t until I was told that by my doctors that what I was feeling, doing, thinking was symptomatic of anxiety disorder that I realised how far my stress receptors had stretched….and how far I had to travel within myself to restore the calm to my existence.
Do any of these sound familiar to you?
- Getting overwhelmed in crowds.
- Getting upset or angry at a loud alarm. Sudden changes in volume on the television really sets me off. The commercials are often much louder than the actual program.
- Sharp pains (due to hyper-vigilance) in your neck, back, collarbones that make it harder/painful to breathe.
- Whereas panic attacks make you feel as though you can’t do anything, there is the other side of the coin, the crazy energy that makes you want to be always doing something – talking, on the computer, crafting – anything – because if you stop, you are alone and trapped.
- Lying in bed and creating stories in your head. (Not unusual in an author, I know.) The worlds you create are very different from your own, safer, less confused, a way of unravelling you thoughts.
- Lying in bed or sitting in front of the television with your heart racing as though you’ve just run an Olympic 100m. The flight instinct is well and truly engaged, nerve endings tingling.
- Super startle reflex – jumping fright at the slightest thing.
- When a day isn’t going well, deliberately making it worse by setting up all the depressive triggers you can – playing “that” song, watching “that” movie.
This anxiety stuff is difficult to deal with, especially if you have years of these behaviours behind you, entrenched in your brain, coursing through every cell in your body. Years of people telling you to “just get on with it”, “relax and unwind”, “calm yourself down” etc. when you, most of the time, you aren’t even aware that what you are feeling is unhealthy.
Sometimes, as in my case, it takes an emotional collapse for you to actively seek help, to speak up and tell someone (anyone) that you are struggling with an unseen enemy.
But speak up you must. Doctors have become far more receptive to mental health issues and have many more treatment options available than they used to have. My doctors have been wonderful. They don’t mind me crying on their shoulders. They haven’t pressured me to take up any particular treatment path. They listen. They make suggestions. They encourage me to work at retraining my mind’s responses and reactions through the peaceful practices of yoga and meditation. And, yes, I have medication to take, but it is at a low dosage and designed to work hand in hand with the mindfulness techniques.
Today marks the one year anniversary of my being informed that I had Generalised Anxiety Disorder.
I have come a long way on my journey back to calm.
My mind feels much quieter. I am not sure whether I like that or not. I am still having trouble bringing myself back to writing – and I really want to feel that mystery mojo kick back in. Somewhere in the back of head, a little voice keeps saying “when we move in to the new house we can start again”. I hope that it is right.
If you have any or all of these 8 responses, please do speak up. Tell someone that you need help. You owe it to yourself and those you love to take that step towards calmness.