So recently, I’ve had quite a dark patch of depression, followed by particularly heightened anxiety. This has caused me quite a few days off from work, and it has basically ruined the last 2 weeks of my life. In this blog I will be focusing on the anxiety I experience, what causes it and how I have coped with anxiety attacks.
Anxiety can be different for many people, but for me I completely tense up, my heart races, my legs turn to jelly, my hands sweat and I might get shivers or get really hot. I also find it hard to communicate with anyone – lack of eye contact, reserved body language and anything I say just gets confused and mixed up in my head.
A good example of when I feel anxious is when I walk into a shop on my own. My whole body is on-edge as soon as I walk in, knowing there will be lots of people and shop assistants around watching me and I always hope I don’t do or say anything stupid. The check-out is the worst part though – any interaction causes me to completely clam up; if they ask me a question my heart beats out of my chest and my words in reply never come out in the right order. It entirely messes with my brain. After this experience has happened and I’ve said a sentence wrong, I constantly have it on replay in my head for about the next hour, regretting what I’d done and wishing it went differently.
So, why does my brain and body do this?
Simply put, anxiety can be described as the ‘fight or flight’ syndrome in our bodies, which gives us an extra burst of adrenaline when we feel in danger, enabling us to tackle it or run away from it. The way it works for me, and many others also suffering from anxiety, is that my threshold for the ‘fight or flight’ is particularly low, and it makes me think that relatively normal situations are a danger or threat to me. My body releases the adrenaline anyway, and causes me to experience these feelings.
Here’s a list of situations when I feel this way:
- Walking into a shop or somewhere public by myself
- Driving on my own late at night
- Driving somewhere for the first time
- Talking on the phone to someone I don’t know
- Leaving my boyfriend’s side (known as separation anxiety)
- Walking in the dark
- Not having enough time
- Worrying about what people will think.
What caused me to have a particularly low week this week was the separation anxiety. Every evening that I tried to leave my boyfriend’s house I became scared, felt unsafe, and really did not want to leave his company. This brought on most of the symptoms of anxiety from above, but quite a lot worse than normal, then I started intensely crying, becoming breathless and feeling dizzy. I knew then that this was an anxiety attack, and it lasted about 10 minutes before my symptoms started to wear off. My poor boyfriend had to deal with this 2 nights in a row, and somehow knew exactly what to do for me. He sat me down, made me drink water, calmed me down, and took my coat off as I was getting hot. He guided me through breathing techniques that we have previously practised in yoga and meditation, which were really helpful with the breathlessness I was suffering. In turn, this whole experience made me feel exhausted and each morning after, I woke up tired, my body was on shut down and I was definitely not in a position to face a whole day at work.
Having never had anxiety attacks before this week, it was quite a shock to me and it made me quite confused. Having experienced them a couple of times now, I feel more equipped to deal with them and try to work out when one is about to happen. It does, however, make me conscious of the fact that it may happen more regularly from now on, and this increases my fear of having an attack in public or at work.
I hope this has been helpful to anyone who also suffers, or at least an insight into anxiety for anyone else.
Thanks for reading.