I am someone who needs to understand how things work. I feel that having an understanding helps me to rationalise things and this in turn helps me to overcome the fear. So, first step for me was to find out what an anxiety disorder is? Why me and why not everyone else?
Here are some of the questions I have asked and the answers I've found to be true for me. If you have any questions you would like to ask me, then please fill in the contact us form and I will post your question and answer here.
What is Anxiety?
My understanding is that anxiety is a feeling of worry/fear, it causes adrenaline to spike and gives us the ‘fight or flight’ feeling.
Why do we even need the feeling of Anxiety?
Anxiety believe it or not, is our brain's way of protecting us. It is giving us a rush of adrenaline to be able to deal with a difficult situation. Hence the term 'fight or flight'. Have you ever experienced depersonalisation? The feeling of being in a dream or not really being here? This too is your anxiety and your brains way of protecting you. It causes you to detach from reality in a bid to spare you emotionally.
Doesn't everyone experience Anxiety?
Yes. Everyone in the world will experience the feeling of anxiety at one time or another, however, someone with an anxiety disorder, has lost the ability to manage this response and now has an unnatural level of anxiety.
Will this feeling ever go away?
From my personal experience, and from people I’ve met over the years who also have anxiety, the answer is no. Anxiety for me has been like a switch that has been turned on in my brain and I cannot turn it off. What I have done, is learn to manage it and recognise the things/people I need during a bout of panic.
Why don't the people around me understand?
Unfortunately, mental illness isn’t something someone can see, and too often it’s presumed that the person is making it up, or that it’s not as bad as they’re making out. If someone has a physical disability, it’s easy to see their struggles and empathise with how difficult their day must be. However, to someone like me, you cannot see nor empathise with the daily struggles that go on inside my head. You cannot possibly see the thoughts racing around at 100mph, the build-up of fear, or urge I get to just get the hell outta dodge. I have people tell me how calm I look during times I admit I was feeling scared. I guess this is because I’ve perfected the art of putting on a face.
When I was first diagnosed, I struggled to get my own head around it. It’s a lot to take in. How can your brain cause these physical effects, over what could appear to be nothing at times? You lose a sense of trust in yourself. Explaining these symptoms and situations to someone who has never experienced what you’re going through, can be tough. I would try to explain to my family and friends what was going on and I would get responses like “Well, all you have to do is…”, “Can’t you just stop that and do this”, “It’s silly for you to be in the house all the time, you’re doing yourself no favours”, “This is getting ridiculous now”, “I get like that sometimes, you just have to get over it”. It got to the point where I stopped telling them things, as I felt they thought I was being a hypochondriac or just seeking attention. I felt like I was being a burden and they were sick to death of listening to me prattle on. I’m sure they never intended for me to feel this way, it’s not their fault they had no understanding. They had never had to deal with this before, either for themselves or with anyone else. Also, how could I have expected them to understand what was going on, when I didn’t?
How do I find people who do understand?
I found a site called www.nomorepanic.co.uk and I must say they were a god send to me. I honestly do not know how I would have coped in the beginning without them. This is a forum that allows you to read threads from other people in similar circumstances. You can create your own thread if you’re looking for answers and you can also jump into their chat room for a casual chat or just some support.
Now whilst I advocate this site and all it stands for, I would always say this; do not rely solely on this site. I made the mistake of living my life on this site. All day every day was spent writing threads, reading threads, replying to threads, chatting in the chat room. My whole day was talking about it, thinking about it, reading up on it, and it was all getting a bit much. I had let it consume my very existence and when I had people telling me I had to stop going onto it as much, I became very precious about it. This was my way of coping, I wasn’t about to give it up. Well, in the end I had to. I got to the point where even I recognised that I was addicted to the site and the people on there, completely relying on them to be there for me. It wasn’t healthy and it wasn’t fair to put that kind of responsibility onto others. No More Panic is a fantastic site, with amazing articles and fantastic support from great people, but please use it responsibly. Moderation is key after all.