Here is the story of Jenny*
I’ve had it since I can first remember, I knew something was wrong with me growing up. I would cry so much and just feel so overwhelmed. It always worried my parents, so much so that they took me to see a pediatrician as a child. The medical professional’s conclusion was that there was nothing wrong with me; I was healthy!
How does your anxiety manifest itself physically?
In high school, my anxiety continued, and in university, it reached its peak and finally, I was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I consistently struggled to turn off anxious thoughts in my mind.
How does your anxiety manifest itself mentally?
It feels like it’s just a matter of time before something terrible will happen and that it will all be my fault. I can’t stop focusing on thoughts that aren’t helpful, which just makes everything worse. It’s like I’m continually adding fuel to the fire. I tell myself that everyone hates me and that I’m an idiot. It’s absolutely exhausting.
What kinds of things trigger your anxiety?
Life, really. It can be something small — the tiniest of events — that I will obsess over, and it will snowball into a giant panic attack
I overanalyse everything. I also tend to take on other peoples’ emotions. If I’m with someone who’s sad or depressed, it will deeply affect me. It’s like my brain is always looking for a fun and creative way to sabotage myself.
How do you manage your anxiety?
I’ve done therapy, taken medication, and tried mindfulness training. Therapy, in more recent years, has helped, and finding a therapist who truly understood anxiety on more than just a textbook level was great. I really believe that to truly understand anxiety, you have to have experienced it. Sure, the theory provides guidelines and evidence, everyone has a different experience and a range of triggers.
I have tried everything that I’ve been directed to try and done my own research, I watched videos about anxiety, read as much as possible to help me manage it (anxiety), tried oils and limit my caffeine intake choosing to drink herbal teas. I have multiple apps on my phone, have taken courses in meditation, started knitting and video games help a lot.
I’m open about my anxiety as much as possible, and I try to accept it. I try to avoid situations or people that I know might make me anxious too.
What would your life look like if your anxiety was under control?
I’m have no idea, it’s strange to think about because, unfortunately, it has been such a big part of my life for so many years.
I feel like there would be this huge weight off of my chest. I’d feel less nervous about the future, and I might even put myself out there more. There wouldn’t be all these wasted days or months. It’s so hard to even imagine, because I don’t know if it could happen.
Do you have any habits or behaviors associated with anxiety that are unique to you?
I’m told I apologize more than the average person, and that I worry about people too much or get stressed about situations no one else cares about. Here is an example; when I was 15, my parents went to visit friends, and when they weren’t back by a certain time, I panicked and called (much to the amusement of their friends) because I was convinced something terrible had happened to them.
If people go out and are gone for a while, I will worry. I try to keep this hidden, because I know no one wants to deal with that. I’ve even checked police scanners and news feeds to check there were no accidents.
What’s something you wish other people knew about being anxious?
How hard anxiety can be to “turn off.” If there were an off switch, I’d be delighted.
You can know that, logically, many of the things you’re anxious about won’t happen, but your brain is still screaming “Yes, but what if it does — oh god, it’s already happening.” That can be hard for people to understand.
Sometimes, looking back on things that made me anxious is almost embarrassing. I wonder why it preoccupied me so much and whether I humiliated myself in front of others by being anxious. It’s a really horrible spiral that can be hard to explain to someone without sounding crazy.
A part of you can say, “Yes, I realize that I might sound ridiculous,” but this fear, these thoughts and feelings, are so heavy, and I’m doing my best to manage them. But it’s like herding cats. I wish people got that.
How has anxiety affected your relationships?
I’m scared of forcing my anxiety onto someone else. I know my anxiety is overwhelming for me, so I worry about it being overwhelming for someone else.
No one wants to be a burden on anyone. I definitely feel like I’ve ended relationships, at least partially, because I didn’t want to become a burden.
Intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Fast heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating and feeling tired may occur.
Anxiety can be normal in stressful situations such as public speaking or taking a test. Anxiety is only an indicator of underlying disease when feelings become excessive, all-consuming and interfere with daily living.
*name has been changed to protect the identity of this person.
**Source: Mayo Clinic
If you relate to any of the subject matter covered above, please reach out to see your Medical Professional or contact Beyond Blue.
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