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All Anxiety Is Different

*Like always, what I decide to share on here are from my own experiences and opinions. Any facts that are started from outside sources will be shared if necessary, and nothing from what I write is meant to be taken as medical advice or as a diagnosis. As always, you can come to me if you need someone to talk to or have questions about anything that I write or you may feel, but I will also answer or express my responses from my own knowledge and experiences. I am in no way medically permitted to help or diagnosis anyone.

I planned on starting this piece right after I did my piece about depression, but everytime I sat down to write it I felt like I couldn't get my thoughts straight. I was going through some stuff including making the decision to be put on medication to help me with my anxiety and depression, and I try and make sure I'm in the right headspace when I write pieces like this.

There are a few points I want to make in this piece, and I feel like I have a lot of reasons to be writing this even more so than my piece on depression because it's something newer to me and something I think more people don't understand. Personally, I know a good amount of people around me who don't truly understand what anxiety is, and I hope they will read this and educate themselves in order to help themselves, and even maybe those in their life who struggle with anxiety.

I get asked a lot when I first knew I had anxiety. It's a hard question, but I think I knew for a lot of reasons. I was in a toxic relationship, I had a toxic relationship with myself because of it, and I suffered a lot of hard losses in a short amount of time. I got to the point where my mind would spiral from walking into a room and being physically alone, to being in a relationship but still feeling like I was alone because of the nature of the relationship, to being overwhelmed with loneliness thinking about how much I love the ones who I had lost and the fact that they weren't with me anymore, and then it would end with me falling apart and having a panic attack alone in my room. It became a routine thing, and I guess you could say that stands out to me the most when someone asks me about my first experiences with anxiety.

I would say my example is a relatively extreme case, but I had a really hard time trying to figure out my feelings and put them into words. I was never really any good with expressing myself until I started going to counseling, but I was always pretty good at expressing them for myself through my own writing. I guess when I would have those episodes, it was my mind and body's way of expressing the fact that I could no longer keep what I was feeling to myself, and that it was going to come out whether I had control of it or not.

These episodes continued to happen throughout the really rough ending of getting out of the toxic relationship I was in, and I actually ended up registering my bunny that I was given as my emotional support animal to help. I was away at school during this time, so at least when my roommates were away and the apartment was empty, it didn't feel as empty with my little bunny to greet me when I got home. It helped, but I still felt I didn't have my anxiety under control.

For awhile, the social anxiety that I had began to grow, and it would limit me from wanting to go out with friends, hang out with my family, or really do just about anything. I wasn't happy with myself, so the thought of going out and talking about myself or having to put on a smile just wasn't something I had in me to do. I realized it that the social part of my anxiety was really getting to me when even around some of my closest friends I felt like an outcast and super uncomfortable. It was hard, I can't sit here and tell you it's not as hard as it was, but I definitely had to go through it to understand myself better and learn how to cope and handle it. I do have anxiety after all, and pretending like I didn't wouldn't have helped me at all. Sometimes you just have to let yourself go through things in order to come out of it stronger.

Following these episodes, the again, super toxic relationship had reached an all time anxiety -ridden high (yes, eventually I'll talk about the relationship as a whole and wtf it actually was), and for the first time I had an anxiety attack in front of my dad. It was the night before a hard day I had ahead of me, I couldn't sleep, and thinking about what I had to do the next day quite literally suffocated me. I remember walking into his room and waking him up, and the other thing I remember after that was me unable to stop crying or catch my breath, and him telling me to just breathe. "You'll be ok honey, you're ok" he said over and over again. I was ok, I was going to be ok, and I think that's a huge thing to always remember for those of you who struggle with anxiety. No matter how much you may feel like the world is caving in and your mind is running loose, it is in your mind and not actually happening outside of it. Knowing that my anxiety will never actually hurt me helps me feel better.

I'll get into more of what happened in my relationship eventually, but leading up to that anxiety attack or panic attack whatever you want to call it, I witnessed a trauma and it shook me to my core like nothing else had. It basically scarred me for life, and I wasn't able to do a lot of things like drive or sleep without feeling like I was going to suffocate or have a heart attack for what felt like weeks. It all came and hit me like a truck when I was laying in bed that night before I had to face the person who caused it for the first time since it happened, and I finally realized I wasn't alone in dealing with my anxiety after that moment with my dad.

I know people who know what happened and were there for me are reading this saying, "You were never alone!", but I mean it in the sense that I had finally let someone in to see me as vulnerable as I only had let myself see. I knew I was at the point where I couldn't feel like that alone anymore, and I also knew I alone couldn't calm myself down the way I needed to at that point in time.

It's hard to let people into things like the fact that you struggle with anxiety. I also specifically say STRUGGLE over SUFFER because I think suffer sounds too harsh. I see myself as someone who is struggling with handling my anxiety depending on each situation I'm in over someone who suffers from it everyday. I also struggle with eating disorders that were severe in the past but are better handled now, but can also be triggered by my anxiety. One of the hardest things for me is telling people that I used to be bulimic or anorexic, because really no one knows it and will probably mostly find out this way. My anxiety triggers this when I get upset about how I look in things, when I go to the gym feeling like I look like the most out of shape person there being squeezed in my tight workout clothes, or when I wake up on my period or just after a bad day of eating and can physically see I look bigger than usual. As a result, I either don't feel hungry so I don't eat (aka convinced my mind I don't need to eat), or I don't think I should eat because I don't want to be bigger and the smell of food makes me nauseous.

To this day one of the most painful and aggravating things I deal with when it comes to people who I let in about my anxiety struggles is when they tell me I don't have it or I don't have to feel the way I do. I can't help it, like seriously can't just not have my heart race like it's trying to jump out of my chest, or feel like I want to vomit, or feel like blood is rushing to my head while my body feels like it's 150 degrees and climbing. Believe me when I say I wish all that didn't happen with things you see as minimal, but me, who has a hard time talking about anything sensitive especially when it carries so much weight with it, would not open up to someone or confide in them if I wasn't sure enough about what I was feeling. I understand it's hard to find the right words sometimes when someone presents things like this that they're dealing with, but telling someone to feel the opposite of what they just came to you about feeling is NOT the way to go. UGH my heart just races even thinking about having to explain this, but it's true and it's common. SO COMMON. So here we go.

FOR ME (and I'll say for me because I don't want to talk on anyone else's experiences), anxiety isn't just getting "worked up" about things. My anxiety isn't from just having a bad day, or not sleeping well, or because I rushed around and now I am trying to get 100 things done in half the time it should take me.

I wish I didn't have anxiety. I wish a bad night of sleeping didn't turn into me having no motivation and then making stuff like my want to work out to be happier with my appearance harder to do. I wish I could just eat three meals a day with snacks in between without feeling like I'm going to gain weight. I wish that me having a bad day was just a bad day and that I could just get over it and not have it be that I feel like I can't do anything right or that I'm not good enough. I wish it was as simple as I forgot, but it's I forgot because I've barely slept or there are too many thoughts running around my head that I can't figure out what order they need to be in.

I really do wish that I could be like you and not have these "little things" hit me so hard, but I also I wish that you would understand that those little things to you, aren't as little to me. I wish that I could just listen to the things you say and understand them and process and believe them just like you. I'm not you, I have anxiety, it's part of who I am, and because of it I have learned how to be a stronger and more sensitive person for myself and others in general.

What do I do to help with my anxiety?

I go to counseling.

I am aware of my triggers and stay out of situations that I know aren't good for me.

I write myself notes to remember things.

I try to talk about my feelings when they come up so I don't keep so much inside.

I plan for the next day the night before as best I can.

I write how I'm feeling.

I listen to my body when it needs rest/movement.

I try my best to get the rest I need.

I fuel my body with foods that will give me energy so I don't feel too blah to get things done.

I try not to punish myself for eating not so healthy foods with vigorous workouts or not eating the next day.

I am more vocal when I'm in an uncomfortable situation.

I let those who are around me a lot or who I'm comfortable with know how I'm feeling so they know what to look out for.

All of the knowledge I have about anxiety and my anxiety was learned through years of counseling and learning about myself. I'm nowhere near done with learning and don't plan on stopping with counseling, but I am at a much better place than I have been in a long time. The trauma I spoke about earlier happened over the summer when I couldn't go see the counselor I was seeing since she was at my school. That being said, from what I learned from her and from myself I was able to make it until going back to school months later without the help of a counselor. I got myself through a PTSD trauma because I know myself better than I ever have and just continue to learn. Everytime I say that out loud I give myself a little pat on the back!!

Regardless of your experiences with anxiety, your feelings are valid, your thoughts are your own, and no one can tell you that you shouldn't feel the way you do. There is a difference between getting worked up, being irritable, or stressed out and having anxiety. Don't feel bad about yourself just because the people around you may not understand it, find ways to educate them so they can! Even though I have had obstacles I overcame myself it doesn't mean I didn't need a support system, and just because I was able to get myself to a better place that time doesn't mean I always can. There is absolutely nothing wrong with needing other people to help you through things even if they don't understand it on a personal level. As long as you are willing to be patient enough to express yourself and get them to understand, they will be willing to listen and do the best they can to help you. You don't cure anxiety, but you can live with it and be just as happy and successful as those who don't struggle with anxiety.

As always, I know when I share things that are as raw as this it can trigger some things, so if you ever need someone to talk to or even ask about anxiety in order to help be there for someone else I would love to be that person! I love to share what I have learned about my own experiences with anxiety, and I hope we can all continue to make conversations surrounding it more open and typical have.


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