It’s time to talk about something no one wants to talk about. Perhaps it’s because some people still think it’s not a real issue.
News flash. It’s an issue. It’s an illness. It’s silent. It’s debilitating. And it’s real.
You can’t just get over it. You can’t just stop. And people telling you to just ‘calm down’ doesn’t help one bit.
I remember my first anxiety attack. I had just came home from work. Nothing particularly worrisome or stressful happened that day. Nothing set me off. I was driving home from work as I do everyday.
And it hit me.
I’m never sure where it comes from or why, but it hits like a ton of bricks.
I got home and sat down with my head pounding and my chest tightening. I was shaking. My chest kept getting tighter and I began sweating, crying, and panicking. I was so frightened for no apparent reason, that I was starting to thing something was physically wrong with me.
My husband, realizing what was happening, finally took me outside and we sat there until it passed. He held me, told me to breath, and just sat with me. Sat with me until I could breath again. Until my head stopped pounding. Until I could talk.
You have to understand, this happened for no reason.
And before you roll your eyes and say ‘Why didn’t you just stop and calm down?’ If you have ever had an anxiety attack before, you know its not that easy. You can’t think of anything in that moment but the fact that something bad is coming.
That’s what anxiety is. It comes and it goes and it happens for no reason at all.
I have had an attack in line at the grocery store, at the gym, and even as soon as I wake up. I’ve cried in fear on my way home from work and rushed into my husbands arms as soon as I got home. I’ve called my sister on my way home just to talk and take my mind off of this feeling overwhelming me. And sometimes, I can’t do anything about it. Sometimes, I only feel relief when I walk into my front door. Sometimes, I don’t feel relief for days.
I began thinking to myself how amazing my life must’ve been before I began feeling this way. I wanted to go back so badly to this ‘carefree’ life I was living before. Why was I crying in bed at night out of fear? Why could I not leave the house? Why was I scared to travel or scared to do anything that involved leaving my home? I had no idea.
It wasn’t until I began researching and reading others experiences that I realized how common anxiety is. I am NOT saying that mine is any degree worse than someone else’s, but people need to understand that its real. There’s such a large spectrum. One day you could be fine, and confined to your bed for the next.
According to the ADAA, ‘Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.’
They also say that out of that out of that, only 36.9% of those suffering actually receive treatment.
They call our generation the ‘anxious generation.’
Anxiety used to be ‘made up’ and something no one wanted to talk about in fear of being judged or called crazy. Some people still don’t want to talk about it. But I think our ‘anxious’ generation found their voice, and there are multiple issues that we are not afraid to use that voice on. Mental health being one of them.
Thankfully, there are so many people who are openly speaking about anxiety. Numerous incredible and powerful articles have been written by people with different levels of anxiety, such as this BuzzFeed article which went viral on many social media accounts. These stories and articles are so exceptionally supportive to read. Not because of statistics or facts, but to know you are not the only one feeling like this. That nothing is wrong with you.
Let me tell you something if you haven’t heard it enough. It’s going to be okay. If you have anxiety, you’re not alone. If you know someone who has anxiety, don’t downplay it.
And most importantly, if you love someone with anxiety, learn how to help them. Tell them ‘it’s okay.’ Listen to them. You won’t always be able to help, and you have to understand that. But you are helping them more than you know.
I’m not going to sit here and write a list of tips on how to ‘cope with anxiety’ and ‘ways to deal with anxiety’ because it is such a personal matter and I don’t think there is a universal way to deal with it. The only piece of advice I can give is to breath. To do whatever it takes for you to get help. And to learn how to live without letting this take over your life. At the time it feels like anxiety is in control, but it’s not. You are.
This blog has been a huge outlet for me and has helped me redirect my time and energy into my work, therefore taking my mind off of a lot of things that would usually trigger me. I’m not writing this for attention, or even to just inform you of my anxiety issues. I’m writing this to give hope to someone. Anyone. Because you’re not the only one going through it and you won’t go through it forever. It get’s better. You’ll get better. And you’ll be able to think back to when you were ‘carefree’ and ‘didn’t have to worry’ and begin to feel that way again. And it will be beautiful.