I have anxiety.
Anxiety is a word that gets thrown around and is therefore often not taken seriously. Everyone can become anxious at times, and sometimes it can even be good, but when there is no real danger, that’s when it becomes a problem. People will make remarks such as “I thought all the red lipstick had sold out and almost had a panic attack!” or “I was so anxious thinking I wouldn’t be able to find any red lipstick for tonight”. You know what? Fuck off.
People using these terms so flippantly has desensitised us to what they actually mean and it just seems like a trivial comment that goes over our heads. So I want to tell you what it feels like to me.
Anxiety is like drowning. Anxiety is being terrified of death but wanting it all to stop. Anxiety is the sick feeling routed in the pit of your stomach. Anxiety is feeling so overwhelmed you don’t think you can cope. Anxiety is your pounding heart in your throat and the side of your head. Anxiety is the tingling sensation in the tips of your fingers. Anxiety is your heaving chest as you gasp for breath because you’re certain you’re dying. Anxiety is pain. Anxiety is draining. Anxiety is exhausting. Anxiety stops you from living even though you’re scared to die.
Anxiety sufferers all experience different feelings and emotions. What anxiety is to one person may not be what anxiety is to another. People also suffer different extremes of anxiety and it often varies day to day.
Those who suffer with mental health are very good at hiding it. People were shocked to find out I was struggling mentally. It’s such a difficult thing to admit to yourself, let alone explain to others. So remember to check on your strong friend. Reserve judgement because mental health makes no exceptions. Just because someone has a wonderful partner, their dream job and an amazing house, it doesn’t mean they can’t be suffering with a mental illness. Because it is exactly that, an illness. They aren’t ungrateful or attention seeking, their brain just isn’t coping right now.
So, next time you talk to someone listen. Listen for little clues, sarcastic comments said in jest, ask yourself if there is a deeper meaning? If they say they are ‘fine’ dig a little deeper, because we’re all fine on the surface. Ask about home life, about work, make sure they are coping. Listen to understand and not to respond.
Shockingly, 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. Approximately 5.9 in 100 people will suffer with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and 3.3 in 100 people will suffer with Depression. 7.8 in 100 people will suffer with mixed anxiety and depression. (Statistics taken from Mind.org)
I find writing about my anxiety to be a form of therapy so I’ve decided to share with you my ‘anxiety diaries’. I’ll post about how I came to understand I had anxiety, coping with it in different scenarios and talking about my past experiences. Hopefully this can help just one other lost soul out there.
For anyone struggling, mind is a great charity call 0300 123 3393 or text 86463 they also have an online chat which I have found beneficial in the past. It’s sometime easier to chat on a screen than on the phone. Additionally, you can contact Samaritans on 116 123. CALM 0800 585858 is also worth mentioning which is specifically aimed at men.