THIS is anxiety…

All too often, people consider anxiety to be a case of “getting a bit stressed”, or “feeling nervous”. It is written off with comments like “Oh yes, I always get anxious when I have a big test coming up,” or “Well, everyone has anxieties.”

This word is thrown around a lot, which I personally feel is one of the reasons so many people still do not consider anxiety to be a mental health condition in it’s own right.

Let me just clarify something. Anxiety is not the same as being stressed out, or nervous about a big or important event. It isn’t the same as an individual phobia about a specific thing.

When you suffer with anxiety, you can become absolutely overwhelmed to the point of a panic attack, with practically no pre-warning at all. Sometimes it can be over the smallest of things, other times you are not even sure yourself what triggered it.

There are days when you can wake up feeling fine, and by midday you feel overwhelmingly frightened to answer the phone. You are not expecting any negative phone calls, and yet you feel overwhelmingly worried about what might be said.

There are days when you are expecting a delivery, but when the doorbell rings, you simply cannot bring yourself to answer the door. You find yourself hiding in your own home, without being entirely sure what you are hiding from.

At present, it is 4:25am here in the UK, and I have had a grand total of three hours sleep. I am wide awake. I awoke to my heart racing through my chest and my hands and legs trembling. My breathing became very fast, until I felt like I could not breathe at all. I began gasping to catch my breath. I have been physically sick twice where my stomach is turning so much. And the reason for such distress? I realised that last week I forgot to send a (non-urgent) email and post a letter.

THIS is anxiety. This is life for so many of us. This is a real mental illness, which can cause so many physical problems as well.

Suffering with anxiety does not make us weak. We would love to take your advice of “don’t worry so much,” or “don’t overthink.” That sounds like a dream to me! But unfortunately, this isn’t something we always have the good fortune to choose.

Every day we are faced with a constant battle with our own minds, which spend some days in a constant state of “fight or flight”, and yet still we have to get through the day with the same success as everyone else.

If you are struggling, please know you are not alone. Please do not be ashamed to speak up and talk about your daily struggles. You deserve to be heard and understood.

Be kind to yourselves, and if you need to take things a little slower, or make time to breathe, then please do. This condition can be exhausting and nothing is more important than your health and wellbeing.

Sending love and strength to you.

Pixie

34 thoughts on “THIS is anxiety…

  1. Butterflies in the stomach is such a romantic notion of anxiety isn’t it? If only my anxiety presented as butterflies and didn’t cause all over body tingling that lasts for two weeks, or a continuous loop of negative thoughts, or nausea that wakes me up at 2am. Great post! x

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  2. Pixie you are so amazingly brave talking about your anxiety. I love the way you write and am so happy you commented on my blog. Lets collaborate at some point. Keep writing and keep battling stigma. I hope you get some respite from the anxiety soon. Meditation really helps me and I love the app Insight Timer. Lots of love xxx

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    1. Thank you so much for your lovely compliment, I am so glad you have enjoyed my blog. It is so important for us all to feel confident speaking up and being open about what life looks like to someone battling a mental illness. It doesn’t always make for a glamorous read, but it is an important message we can all play a part in putting across. A collaboration would be amazing! xxx

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  3. You are great, strong, articulate and adorable! You write this so well. You know I understand only too well how it feels and how relentless and exhausting it is so I am not going to offer those usual platitudes but will send you a hug and say that I am here if you need to talk. Darren

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    1. Thank you so much for the lovely compliments, Darren. It really does mean a lot. As you well know, the nature of anxiety unfortunately means that we can be doing just fine, and then out of no where suddenly begin struggling again. Writing my blog has become a strong coping mechanism for me, and is something I am really committed to working on and perfecting over time. It is so nice to meet others who truly understand how this can feel. We all take care of each other here ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. It’s SO good to talk about! I find my anxiety really impacts on my sex drive (as per my blog) because I worry and have the “Monkey mind” so it’s hard to focus on getting turned on …and not overanalysing a passing comment made to me by a colleague three years before. *Sigh*. I’ve found that quitting coffee and journalling have made a huge difference to my mental health, but as always its a work in progress. Good luck to you and keep writing ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Thank you so much for reading, I really appreciate it. It is so surprising to some, just how many physical problems anxiety can cause alongside the more obvious mental health concerns. Similarly to you, I also really struggle to switch off and let go of even the smallest of things from years ago, and it certainly effects all aspects of my life at times. I have considered trying to cut back on caffeine too, as I am a terrible sleeper, and I know it can worsen anxiety too. It is good to hear that it helped you in some way, so perhaps I need to give it a go! Thank you again.

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    1. Yes, I felt the same when I read yours! Clearly we were both on the same wave length today! Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post, I really appreciate it. Absolutely, we are not alone. So many of us struggle this way, and by being open and talking about our experiences we can all help each other, and help others to understand what we go through. The more awareness we can raise around the hard truth about mental illness, the closer we will be to finally breaking the stigma. Keep strong, and keep writing!

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  5. Thank you for writing this. I get anxiety about my having anxiety sometimes because, as you mentioned, some people don’t truly understand what having anxiety is. I constantly then find myself analyzing how I’m feeling and sometimes thinking, wait am I just nervous this time, or is my anxiety about to be full blown, when someone asks me how I’m feeling do I say that I am anxious? My head just swims.

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    1. Thank you so much for taking time to read my post. I know exactly how you feel! I think people try hard to reassure us by implying it is a perfectly “normal” feeling that everyone experiences. I think it is intended as a way to be kind, but unintentionally can make us feel misunderstood or undermined. I have been trying hard to remind myself that “Anxiety” isn’t a dirty word, and if my anxiety is bad then I have started saying exactly that. It is a condition that so many people experience, and yet so few people seem to fully understand the impact. I have began being more open, and just saying to people “Please be patient with me today. My anxiety is bad today, and I need to take things a little slower.”I think by being open and honest about our experiences, we are able to start important conversations about anxiety, and hopefully increase awareness and understanding. My advice is to put yourself first, and be honest when you are struggling. There is nothing to be ashamed of, and the more people understand about your experiences, the better placed they will be to help and support you when you need it. Take care you.

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by! Yes, I couldn’t agree more. It is as real an illness as any other, and yet we are constantly asked to justify ourselves. I just wish more people would take the time to learn about mental illness before passing judgement or assuming they understand. Thank you so much for reading!

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  6. I love this post and I can totally relate. I’ve never been able to sleep through a whole night. I’m constantly in only REM sleep and not a deep sleep, and I wake up at least 1-3 times a night. I also get frustrated because people don’t understand that with anxiety, I will constantly think about something that happened like months ago and the thought will not get out of my head no matter what I do. My brain is never focused. There’s so many other things too. Thank you for the post because it helps remind me I’m not alone!

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post, I am so grateful. Anxiety is such a difficult condition to understand, unless you experience it yourself. You are absolutely right, you are not alone in your struggles. So many of us have to fight through each day with these problems. But we can all help and support each other, offer advice and be a listening ear when needed. We are all stronger than we know, and together, we are even stronger. Thank you again for your lovely comment.

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  7. The one comment I cannot stand when people say it is “you think too much, just don’t think as much”. The thinking is not the problem, the thinking is keeping me sane, it’s the monstrosity of anxiety that is causing me to panic, cancel, hide, or be exhausted. This post is very truthful and I wish people would stop using the word anxiety in a completely wrong context.

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read. Absolutely-I think quite often people use it as a way to try to seem supportive, or to show us they “understand” how we feel. In truth, only those who actually suffer, or have suffered, with this condition can really understand. I personally would prefer people to say things like “I am here for you”, or “what can I do to help?” instead of trying to normalise the condition for me. I agree, the whole “don’t think too much” one does grate on me! As does the very popular “Just don’t worry about it”. Oh how I would just love to not worry!!! Wishing you well x

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  8. someone once described anxiety to me as an older sibling who tries so hard to protect you that it stifles you–i guess i can appreciate the idea of my brain trying to protect me from potential disasters, but it would be nice not to constantly be bracing myself for whatever will or won’t come–it would be nice to feel my shoulders ease from my ears, and to feel like i can breathe. i appreciate your candour.

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    1. Thank you so much for reading. I absolutely relate to what you said. It is like our brains are in a permanent state of fight or flight. It is an exhausting and relentless condition. I try really hard to spend lots of time reflecting and giving myself credit for small achievements. I think it is really important for us to strive to be kind to ourselves in spite of anxiety. Take care of you x

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      1. it’s great that you are able to recognise that–i think that that’s part of where i go wrong (with less blame than that phrase makes it sound))–i have a bad habit of deflecting any positive feedback–something i’m working on. thank you for your kind words–sending you the good vibes.

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  9. I think it’s all a matter of degree. It seems some people have a smaller range of anxious feelings and therefore can only relate to the idea of getting stressed or tense, without fully understanding others have buckets of other levels with increasing intensity. I’ve noticed that with my husband~ I’ll be dealing with family anxieties and he doesn’t get why I can’t just ignore the issue and move on b/c he doesn’t have the same range I do. I’ve been working on dealing with it through natural means if you are interested: http://botanicalalchemyandapothecary.com/nervines-and-other-natural-help-for-stress-and-anxiety

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  10. Yes, yes, yes! I totally agree with you – the term “anxiety” is so over-used lately, the lines are completely blurred in terms of treating it as a single disorder.

    My anxiety was diagnosed two years ago when I started going through menopause and was linked to the chemical changes that happen to women during this time.

    All of a sudden out of nowhere I had to be away from wherever I was – on the train, in the coffee queue, at my desk at work and felt that my throat was closing. Some days I could barely get out of my front door. This was completely out of character for me; I’d never ever experienced anything remotely like it before.

    I still have occasional ‘moments’ but I’ve been on Sertralline for two years and that has helped. I also meditate every.single.day.

    Good article, Pixie. Thanks for sharing xxxx

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    1. Thank you so much for reading and I am so glad it resonated with you in some way. I have felt exactly the same at times-out of nowhere suddenly feeling totally overwhelmed an unable to cope with whatever situation I happen to be in at the time.

      I also take Sertraline, and it helps to take the edge off most of the time. Similarly to you, I often still have days where I struggle, but I work hard to remain positive and give myself credit for the small things.

      All too often, unfortunately, Anxiety is written off as simply feeling stressed or going through a hard time. It isn’t always easy for people to understand that sometimes, for some of us, this is a constant struggle, and even when things seem to be going well, we can still be struck by these overwhelming and intense feelings.

      The more we all open up and speak honestly about our experiences, hopefully this will help to raise awareness and understanding to those around us ๐Ÿ™‚

      Keep positive! And thank you so much again for taking the time to read xxx

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading, and I am so glad you agree and found the post relatable. Let’s just hope that more and more people can gain a better awareness and understanding of the way things can be for those of us with mental illness. I really appreciate you stopping by!

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