Have you ever been going about your day and suddenly felt the physical urge to run?
As fear washes over you, you know you’re in danger and you have to escape.
Adrenaline surges through your body, your heart starts racing, your breath becomes shallow, the panic sets in.
You’re on high alert, ready to beat the danger, prepared to do whatever it takes to survive.
But there’s nothing to run from.
There’s no-one chasing you, burning flames aren’t about to engulf you, you’re not under threat.
Your environment says you’re safe, but your mind will tell you otherwise.
That is my anxiety.
From the outside looking in, I’m over-reacting. “Move along please, nothing to see here,” says the crowd. From the inside looking out, the battle rages on.
Aside from the sense of impending danger that arises as a result of various triggers (which can be as simple as a smell or sound), my anxiety presents itself in many physical and emotional responses.
Anxiety, to me, is lying in bed at night replaying conversations from the day over and over. Did I say the wrong thing? Was my tone misconstrued? Do I need to apologise. Again, and again. The panic is palpable as it rises up through my stomach and sticks in my throat, as I believe I’ve mistakenly offended someone, anyone, I care for.
Anxiety is fretting about the future…will my business fail? What would happen if I crashed my car tomorrow? How will I cope if my family get sick?
Anxiety is waking up in the middle of the night mid-panic, banging the walls, desperately trying to escape from the suffocation that took over while I slept. And then, a moment of relief as I realise I’m safe, before the dread sets in that as soon as I drift off again, the suffocation will return. Too exhausted to stay awake, too scared to sleep.
Anxiety is the feeling of utter loneliness in the dark of night. Convinced that my next breath will be my last. Anxiety is that same feeling in the light of day, surrounded by people, but just as alone.
Anxiety is avoiding the shopping centre because the noise, the lights, the smells, the people, all over-stimulate my already heightened senses and send me into a spin.
Anxiety is feeling devastated that I’m not invited somewhere. Yet, when I am, not being able to go because I can’t get past my own front door. What if I don’t know anyone? What if I have a panic attack? What if I say the wrong thing? I’m safer at home. And then beating myself up because I let the anxiety that races around in my head win the battle.
Anxiety is the room spinning in the middle of an important work meeting when I’ve got to pay attention and contribute. And trying to ground myself without showing anyone what’s happening behind my smile.
Anxiety is depersonalisation…the feeling that I’m detached from my body and my voice belongs to someone else. Every damn day.
Anxiety convinces me I’m having a heart attack. Or cancer. Or a stroke. Or a brain tumour. Or some other terminal illness. Even though the medical report is clear…“there has to be something wrong“, says anxiety.
Anxiety is not being able to go out and drink with my friends, even though I really want to, because I know the next two days will be spent in a big ball of unbearable hangover anxiety.
Anxiety is desperately searching Google frantically trying to find the answers. But only ending up with more scarier-than-before questions.
Anxiety is nausea, stomach pains, bloating, digestive issues, sweaty palms, headaches, exhaustion, a racing heart, pins and needles in my face…my arms, my head.
Anxiety is angry, sad, jealous, bitter. Anxiety is shame.
Anxiety is the feeling that no one understands me. Anxiety tells me that I’m all alone.
Anxiety is here to stay. Anxiety is me.
The anxiety behind your smile might be different.
You see, that’s the thing with anxiety. Once you’ve learnt and understood your symptoms, along come some new ones. You can’t compare your anxiety to someone else’s anxiety…how it affects people can be as unique as a fingerprint.
And that’s why it’s so important that we can all talk about anxiety comfortably without feeling ashamed. Without being judged. Without someone telling you how you should be.
Medication, therapy, and introducing self-care techniques will all help to reduce the impact anxiety has on your life but, once a bout of anxiety turns into a disorder, it’s here to stay.
Sure, there will be good times and bad, but get comfortable with the discomfort…anxiety is now a part of you.
And that’s why Anxiety Buddy exists.
I’m an educated, confident, 30-something business-owner who has a great social circle. I attend business meetings, I go to the gym regularly and I have hopes and dreams like everyone else. I’ve worked on my anxiety for years and I understand my condition and manage it well. I can talk openly and freely to anyone and everyone about anxiety. Yet, when anxiety strikes, my mind ignores all that and I feel like I’m in this on my own. (You can read the rest of my story here).
When you experience anxiety, you can feel like no one understands you and all the therapy in the world won’t take you out of that moment where you need to run and all your other symptoms start creeping in. Or, as in most cases, the symptoms will overpower your body and mind in a split second, before you have time to put your coping strategies in place.
In the Anxiety Buddy Facebook group, you’re surrounded by a community of people who understand. People whose symptoms may be different from yours but who understand exactly what you’re going through at exactly the time you’re going through it.
We share tips on what helps our anxiety. We discuss treatment, medication, and therapy techniques from our own experiences. We reach out when anxiety feels like it’s taking over.
We connect positively, and we support each other.
We are never alone.
Whatever your symptoms, however anxiety makes you feel, join the Anxiety Buddy Facebook Group today and connect with people who understand you and never feel alone again.
Founder - Anxiety Buddy
ABOUT THE AUTHOR.
Jo was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder in 2014 and knows what it’s like to live with the crippling disorder and suffer in silence, She also knows how much easier anxiety is to manage when you connect with others and have a strong support network around you. Jo is committed to normalising anxiety and helping others understand their anxiety to reduce the impact it has on everyday life.