If you know me personally, good chances are that you are more than aware that I have had chronic anxiety for around 12 years now. At this point, mental health awareness and understanding has become a little more than important to me, because, in my humble opinion, it is one of the most misunderstood things around right now. The US hasn’t quite caught up to the rest of the world in the means of healthcare, which can leave mental health services in the dust. I’ve never shared what my day to day with anxiety is like before, but I figured that it was about time.
I’ve known the feeling of anxiety since I was pretty young. The earliest I felt it was probably around when I was in third grade, but I didn’t recognize it as anything other than feeling nervous. I was really young, and for the most part, it probably looked like I was just going through a phase as a kid. Over the years, it was pretty clear that I was always anxious about something, even if there wasn’t anything worth worrying about.
So, what does anxiety look like now?
Now that I’m starting into adulthood, anxiety is a little different because I recognize the confused and messy feelings as being anxiety. As a kid, it was a little more confusing, but now I know that it’s only temporary.
On a normal day, I usually wake up feeling that familiar nervous feeling in my chest or stomach. Once I start moving, it usually lifts, and I start to feel ready to start the day, have some breakfast, and either get to class, work, or hang around home on the off days. For me, anxiety is usually felt in my chest, with a tingling feeling, racing heart, and sometimes heart palpitations. You get that feeling that something absolutely terrible is about to happen, even when you’re totally safe at home. It can throw a wrench into a normal day, turning it into something terrible for no reason. That is the worst part, in my opinion.
How is someone affected by anxiety?
Another part that people don’t seem to totally grasp is that anxiety has such a massive effect on a person’s energy. For me, I’ve learned to adjust to living while constantly pretty tired. Be patient with us, please! We’re constantly trying to reason with our minds, reassuring ourselves that the world is, in fact, not ending and all will be okay. Doing this all day long is exhausting. It might not sound like much, but when your mind refuses to quiet down all day, it takes a serious toll. For myself personally, I work pretty hard to keep the emotions and panicked feeling way below the surface, so I can work and function on a daily basis. This takes an insane amount of energy, and leaves me usually pretty drained. But, hey, it works for me, and lets me live my life.
Some days are better than others, but every once in a while, it can be hard to smoosh all the feelings down. It is so easy to get overwhelmed, stressed, and upset over seemingly menial things. When you’re constantly bargaining with yourself mentally, it can be hard to keep up.
With all the negative, it doesn’t mean that life is all dreary and sad for me. Yeah, it can definitely complicate things, but for the most part, I live just like everyone else, just with little adjustments here and there. The media can demonize people who live with mental health issues, but in all reality, 99.9% of people are just trying to be happy and healthy like everyone else. And, you more than likely have someone in your life who has a similar struggle.
So, how can I help a friend with anxiety?
Everyone is different. Just like any illness, it effects everyone differently, and everyone likes different things to help with the stress. For me, I like the following things:
- Support from friends and family. Just asking me how I’m doing lets me know someone is there for me, and opens up the conversation if I haven’t been feeling very well. However, this is something that everyone needs, regardless if they suffer from anxiety or any similar ailments. Everyone needs support!
- Understand that it isn’t something we are doing on purpose. These feelings are usually out of our hands! While it doesn’t excuse any behavior, it is really helpful to understand that we are doing our best to manage how we feel.
- Understand that somedays I need a day off. I can get really overwhelmed, and a day off is worth its weight in gold.
In addition, if you need some self care yourself, feel free to check out my post about my favorite forms of self care! Everyone can use a little TLC now and again!
Do you know someone that has anxiety, or maybe you do? Want to share any experiences or advice? Share in my comment section below!