If you live with an anxiety disorder, you’re not alone.
According to the Australian Department of Health, approximately 14.4 % of Australians will be affected by an anxiety disorder in any 12-month period, which equates to one in seven people.
One in seven!
Take a look around you; there’s almost certainly someone in your workplace, uni, or gym that’s battling an anxiety disorder every single day.
Now, the operative word here is ‘disorder’.
We all experience anxiety in some capacity which is quite normal as it keeps us safe. Fear of loud noises like gunshots, explosions, and thunderclaps, for example, is hard-wired into our brains to enable us to evade danger.
We may get anxious in social situations, meeting new people, giving a speech, taking an exam, or starting a new job; but these fears help us to perform better and are soon over when the flight or fight reflex (the mechanism that floods the body with adrenaline) returns to normal.
When anxiety takes over someone’s life to such an extent that performing daily tasks and living an abundant life is not possible, then they’re no longer anxious, they’re living with an anxiety disorder, and the two are very different.
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
Someone with GAD may constantly worry about a variety of everyday things like family, health, employment, finances and friends.
My GAD is centered around my health. I’m triggered by hospitals, doctors, sickness and anything related to illness. Before I understood my disorder, I used to lie awake at night paralysed with fear that I wouldn’t wake up the next morning.
From the outside looking in, this fear is totally irrational but for myself, and indeed others who live with GAD, this is just a normal, albeit very threatening, part of everyday life.
Social anxiety disorder
Fear of what others will say about them can lead some people to avoid eating, drinking, or speaking in public in case they are judged on the tone of their voice, the sound of their laugh, the way they chew or hold a knife and fork.
Social anxiety disorder can severely impact day-to-day life with a constant fear of what others think enough to keep someone hidden behind closed doors.
For those who have never experienced social anxiety disorder, it can seem simple to tell someone they have ‘nothing to worry about’. For someone who lives with this disorder, it can be all they focus on, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
You may have heard of or experienced panic attacks.
Physical symptoms of panic attacks are scary – you may feel like you are having a heart attack, losing your mind, losing control of your life, or that you are dying. Loss of vision, dizziness, hyperventilating, shallow breathing, nausea, pins and needles, extreme fear, and a sense of detachment from the body are all common (but not exclusive) symptoms of a panic attack.
Symptoms of an anxiety disorder
As well as extreme fear, all anxiety disorders may have the one or more of the following physical symptoms:
- Muscle cramps
- Digestive issues
This list is in no way exhaustive, and anxiety can lead to physical illness in many ways.
While an anxiety disorder can take over someone’s life, there are ways to overcome the disorder. You may never fully be cured, but once you learn how to manage an anxiety disorder, it’s entirely possible to live a fulfilled life just like those who don’t live with an anxiety disorder.
Communication is key
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), exercise and medication may all help a patient manage anxiety, but, in my own experience, the most effective way to learn how to live with anxiety so it doesn’t take over your life is by communicating.
Talking to a therapist and talking to those around you, while effective, are not always the easiest steps to take. There’s still a certain stigma surrounding anxiety, and while you’re still trying to understand the disorder yourself, it can be hard to put what you’re going through into words.
And that’s why Anxiety Buddy exists.
The support group is made up of 400 people who understand exactly what you’re going through because they go through it too.
There’s no judgement and no question too silly, just a group of people who understand anxiety, and they understand you!
Anxiety disorders manifest in different ways for different people. Join the Anxiety Buddy Facebook Group and gain support from other people who are travelling the same road.
When you join the Anxiety Buddy Facebook Group, you never have to feel alone in your anxiety again.
*It’s important to always consult with a medical professional if an anxiety disorder is suspected, this in no way constitutes medical advice.
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.