Anxiety

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is our body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension that comes during situations like the first day of school, starting a new job, or giving a speech.

For some people these feelings of anxiety are extreme. They interfere with daily life, our ability to function day to day, handle social situations and for some, it even interferes with our ability to work or get an education.

Some common symptoms include:

Increased heart rate, rapid breathing, restlessness, trouble concentrating, difficulty falling asleep and many more!

What are some ways that this affects your day to day life?

Difficulties talking to people including those that I love, issues talking on the phone, issues leaving the house, issues filling out important paperwork, issues speaking to medical professionals. By issues I mean: sometimes rapid breathing, increased heart rate, upset stomach, feeling like I'm on the edge, dizziness, mixing up my words, and sweating like crazy. - M

I feel anxious often and over lots of different things in my life. It’s generally negative. - AJ​

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I have multiple subtypes of anxiety so, it definitely makes life interesting, but overall, anxiety makes every day exhausting. There is hardly a second of the day in which I am not anxious, and panic attacks have become something I experience every so often within the last few years, them usually triggered only by my handful of phobias. Both my parents attest to me practically being born anxious so, although this is the norm for me, it still doesn’t make anxiety any less terrible. Now, it has gotten significantly worse and can make even the most mundane things (a strep test at a doctor’s for example) traumatic for me, which I’m not going to lie, is rather embarrassing; I don’t feel as if I should be traumatized over something so small when others have it worse. Additionally, social interactions are incredibly hard for me; even just ordering food at a restaurant is hard. I also avoid phone calls like the plague and have lost friends because I’m too afraid to text first and come off as rude or annoying. Another thing it does is make me terrified of failure. I’ve had people say to me in the past if you’re so depressed (I used to be very depressed), how are your grades so high? Anxiety, that’s why; it makes me fear disappointing my teachers. This is just all I can think of off the top of my head. - Ella B.​

What area of life do you think this comes into play the most?

Anxiety definitely affects my social life and my health the most. My health because it makes me feel sick often, and I am chronically ill and I have health-related OCD and phobias. - Ella B.​

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I'm not sure. I even get anxiety dreams often. - M.

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What are some things you wish other people knew about this diagnosis?

Anxiety is often caused or created by undiagnosed neurodivergence or other disorders. That might not be everyone’s experience, but it was mine. - AJ​

That everyone copes differently. That it is important to talk to your anxiety riddled loved one about what can be done to help during times of difficulty. - M

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I wish people knew that even the most “normal” looking of people can be fighting a very hard battle. My anxiety has never allowed me to look what it labels as “weak” in front of people so, no one really knows what it is like being me. But I can tell you it is exhausting and painful. Overall, I think people just need to be kind to one another. That kindness can help a lot, especially people like me. Also, I wish people realized that anxiety can be physically exhausting so, no, I’m not just lazy, and anxiety can be accompanied by a myriad of physical symptoms. Additionally, I wish people knew that it’s not that I don’t want to talk to you or that I don’t like you, I’m just anxious and want you to start the conversation. I wish people were just more kind, understood that although everyone does experience some sort of anxiety in their life, there is a major difference between normal anxiety and the experience of those with an/multiple anxiety disorder/disorders, and recognized that anxiety can be very hidden, as well. My anxiety, for example, doesn’t let me look nearly as ill and anxious as I really am so, I often suffer all on my own with everyone around me none the wiser unless I speak up. - Ella B.​

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What are some ways people can help someone else with this diagnosis? 

For me personally music helps and sometimes physical contact (ask first). - M

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I wish people would not stare or make comments when others use fidget toys; these are essential for me in order to get out some of my anxious energy. I don’t need someone’s staring to make me more anxious and then, put the fidget away to prevent further stares. Also, I wish people were more patient and really listened to me when I disclose my struggles. My anxiety makes it a terrifying feat to talk about my vulnerabilities so, I really want people to not just brush me off or say something rude. Lastly, I wish people would just listen to me if I ask them to do something to help me (every situation is unique) and as a general rule of thumb, distraction helps a lot, if that’s what I need in the moment. My anxiety is very obsessive so a good joke and continuously talking to me, even though I may not respond or I may talk way too fast, can help me break out of that anxious spiral in my head. On that note, don’t make me talk if I don’t want to; there’s probably a reason my anxiety is making me fall silent and it’s in my best interest to keep my mouth shut because it makes me feel safer. - Ella B.​

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What advice would you give to someone else who is just discovering this in their life or was just diagnosed themselves?

Things get better. Your anxiety won’t always be this bad, I promise. You will get to know yourself and find help and support. - AJ​

Do your best to speak with your loved ones about your triggers. Maybe they can help you figure out coping mechanisms or at least it could help them understand more what you're dealing with. If the person you talk to makes you feel bad about your feelings, you're probably better off finding people that are more considerate. Also, seek some sort of counseling if possible. If you don't feel comfortable speaking with someone writing is an option. - M

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I just want other people with a/multiple anxiety disorder/disorders to know that there is hope and don’t wait too long to get help. My anxiety has only gotten worse over the years due to my own failure to get help for it. Don’t do that; trust me, nothing good comes out of that, despite how scared you may be to seek help. Also, don’t hesitate to advocate for yourself. If you need to sit down, get out of a certain building, rest, etc. speak up. I know it may be hard to do that initially, but it does get easier. Plus, that is the only way you can get the immediate help that you need in a specific situation. - Ella B. ​

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What are some things you wish workplaces or schools would do to better accommodate those with this diagnosis? 

Schools: lots of information before routine changes, education to classmates, and flexible deadlines. - AJ​

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I had to deal with multiple teachers disregarding my feelings or coping mechanisms. So having maybe better counseling available. - M

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