Living with anxiety: self-help

(Graphic by Adele Palmquist)
(Graphic by Adele Palmquist)

Dealing with any sort of anxiety sucks, doesn’t it? You feel your heart beat faster, you get panic attacks, day-to-day activities are a challenge, you have a hard time talking to people and you always feel like there’s no one that understands what you’re going through.

The truth is, there is someone out there that understands. They may not have the same feelings as you, the same fears, but they do have anxiety and they know what it’s like. I understand anxiety because I have it. Personally, I deal with General Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, I have some severe phobias and I believe my worst one to be Social Anxiety Disorder.

Back in December I believe I had my worst experience with anxiety thus far.

I was at my boyfriend’s house for a holiday party that he was throwing, and it would be my first time meeting his friends. Meeting your significant other’s friends shouldn’t be that hard, right? You’re meeting people that they find important to their life and they want to show you off to them, in a sense. In reality, it is very hard. I told my boyfriend about my anxiety and how bad it is; yet he reassured me that it’d be fine, and I almost believed him.

The first person showed up, and next thing I knew I was upstairs hiding. My boyfriend came up and got me to go back downstairs.

It didn’t get any easier. There were only two of his friends there before I found myself back upstairs in his room with the door closed, and all I could do was shake and cry. My heart was beating and I didn’t want to be there anymore. Within a short amount of time, all his friends were downstairs, and I was still upstairs crying and on the phone with my best friend saying how much I wanted to just leave.

Now let’s just stop here and reflect. My boyfriend knew beforehand how bad my anxiety was, and I told him that this would happen yet he didn’t believe me and probably thought I was just being dramatic.

I find that that’s what people who don’t have anxiety think about those who do suffer from anxiety. They probably think it’s just you looking for attention. That’s the last thing you want. The attention only makes you feel worse, but you can’t help the fact that it gets people to focus on you. You can’t help the way your stomach gets upset, how you start shaking, or how nothing feels right.

Now back to the party. There was a point where I went downstairs and was talking to my boyfriend’s mom about how I was feeling, and to my surprise, she told me how she was the same way. She told me that it does get better in time. It may not go away, but it does get better.

It did eventually get a little bit better. I was back upstairs at one point crying, and I sent a text to my boyfriend to come upstairs. He did, and I finally told him everything that was bothering me, and he held me as I cried. He told me that he now understood and that he didn’t think it’d be that bad.

We all need that sometimes, I think. We need to cry and let it all out and just have someone there to comfort us. It tends to help.

It wasn’t until that experience that I realized that I need help. The first step being self-help.

It took me a while to see this, and I think it does for anyone. I went online and found some very interesting questions that would benefit anyone.

  • Is it possible to be certain about everything in life?
  • What are the advantages of requiring certainty versus the disadvantages? Or, how is needing certainty in life helpful and unhelpful?
  • Do you tend to predict bad things will happen just because they are uncertain? Is this a reasonable thing to do to? What is the likelihood of positive or neutral outcomes?
  • Is it possible to live with the small chance that something negative may happen, given its likelihood is very low?

Something else that is very important in self-help that I found is learning to let your worries go by trying not to dwell on them. It’s true that worrying can help keep you out of a bad situation, but it’s also true that it keeps you from great things.

The next step after self-help could also be professional help, but you need to feel you’re ready for it.

Anxiety needs to taken more seriously as this generation alone is showing more signs of having it, as well as other mental illnesses. Sadly, so far, the subject in general is rarely taken seriously.

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