Anxiety: An Insight

I haven’t written here in quite some time – partly due to the requisite of staring at a screen and writing so many words all day for work, and partly due to what the title suggests. Writing about this topic scares the absolute crap out of me. However, with the incredible movement involving anxiety awareness and education, I’ve felt a strong urge to chip in.

Anxiety is a stifling disease: negative thoughts parade in your brain while nausea floods your stomach. If you try to distract yourself, you’re simply left feeling forgetful as to why a sick feeling is in the pit of your belly. For those who have never experienced it, it could be a feeling similar to how you may have felt when you lost an important item, such as your wallet or phone, or an assignment for university after not saving it – you simply feel sick.

It keeps you up at night, it affects how you come across to people, it lingers for hours on hours after a single conversation, and worst of all it doesn’t go away no matter how hard you try to rationalise the situation or the thought/s taking hold of your mind.

Recognising anxiety has recently become more and more common, which has not only helped relationships and how people with the disease are perceived, but it has allowed people who suffer from the illness to understand what the feelings are. Unfortunately, it isn’t a fix. We know what the feelings are, and sometimes we even know why we feel them, but we usually can’t get rid of it.

At the end of the day when we are tucked up in bed, the thoughts are released to wreck havoc and incite fear, guilt, regret, humiliation and eventually sleeplessness. This results in being tired the next day, exhausted even, which only exacerbates the problem further and we are left irritable – hurting those around us, lashing out because we are unable to cope with the emotions fuelling every negative thought conjured up in our brain. This only leaves us to feel guilty and humiliated about every interaction we’ve had and thus the vicious cycle begins.

There are plenty of different types of anxiety: generalised anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety attacks, phobias/fears, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety. These disorders can be mutually exclusive or cross over with one another. These can be triggered by huge events in one’s life, or can develop from thin air.

Every definition you read on the web about these anxiety disorders, including mine, are general overviews because no single anxiety disorder is the same – some could have a phobia, others could have social anxiety, or many could suffer from multiple types of anxiety disorders.

For example, some could feel a heightened sense of fear and nausea when they are about to embark on what they perceive as a fearsome activity. A person afraid of heights has developed a negative feeling towards any activity involving high places – it could be due to a childhood incident, or simply developed out of nowhere – and when they are about to face their fears, such as climb high ropes for a school activity, or jump off a giant rock into the ocean with friends, the nausea floods their stomach and fuels their mind to believe there is a huge level of risk involved – rational or not.

Think about something you’re afraid of: death, losing all your money, talking to a girl or boy, being publicly humiliated, or anything at all which incites worry and fear. This is a phobia, irrespective of how little or big it is, irrespective of how disabling it can be. The intensity of the worrying thoughts increase when you face this fear, but this fades when you are removed from the situation.

Now when it comes to generalised anxiety this feeling sticks around all day and all night long. Not as intense as it is when one with a phobia is about to face their fear, but it can reach this high level of intensity depending on the person and the situation.

It can ruin friendships and relationships because you become so absorbed into what was said and become so sensitive to things which make normal friendships flourish. You then spend too much time obsessing over what you did wrong which hinders relationships even more – if you had just let it go things would be fine. To sum up in a few words: anxiety is a dick.

The worst part is, when it comes to relationships and friendships, you are left feeling, and almost believing, all of the people in your life are slowly realising they don’t want to be around you because you make them feel like a bad person. If you’re so sensitive and reacting all the time to little things they are left feeling pretty shitty and this pushes them away, only triggering yet another fun cycle of irrational thoughts.

This can result in people acting out, unable to really understand why they are like this when someone else, say their brother, sister, friend, etc., isn’t this way (or so it seems). This ultimately ends up making the person feel crazy, and sometimes even results in others seeing the person as crazy. It is horrible to be labelled as crazy when you can’t help or control your feelings – when you would do anything to help or control your feelings.

There is management available for anxiety – medication, exercise, healthy eating, therapy etc., but at the end of the day there is no real cure for the illness, only awareness, education and understanding that no matter who the person is, what they have, or where they are in life, they could be suffering from it.

Anxiety can leave you feeling very insecure, crazy, and downright stupid sometimes, but people who struggle with it can still be happy and can still enjoy life. If you are on the other side of an anxious person and they are freaking out about something involving you it just simply means they appreciate and care about you – because they really care what you think.

The more education on what the illness can do to someone, and the more awareness of the person’s intentions, then perhaps the better management of these cycles, and ultimately the disease.