January 25th Is Bell Let’s Talk Day here in Canada so I wanted to talk about anxiety and what I’ve experienced and how I’ve come to cope and to stay away from my triggers. Firstly, as preachy as this may sound: Remember that this is YOUR LIFE, no-one has the right to tell you how you should be living your life and how you should go about your business, you don’t have to answer to anyone other than yourself when it comes to your health and happiness and the health and happiness of loved ones!
I have anxiety, not the kind where you just get a bit worried sometimes. The kind that keeps you awake at night and keeps you from going out, keeps you from enjoying life at 30 years old. Worrying constantly about your Family and Friends’ safety and convinced that everyone hates you, the constant worry causes migraines and severe gut issues which prevent me from going out and experiencing things even more. It’s easy to tell someone with Anxiety to “toughen up” or “just stop over-thinking things” “lighten up” but you have no idea what it feels like to be trapped inside your own mind. Feeling angry and sad with yourself for the way you feel. It feels like a heart-attack sometimes; I remember the first time I suddenly got painful, stabbing chest pains and a numb sensation down my arm, my husband rushed me off to ER where they hooked me up to an EKG, took blood, did a chest X-ray before telling me it was severe Anxiety. It’s fear; fear of being bullied again, fear of everyone judging you and saying you’re “just an attention-seeker” fear of driving your Loved ones away, fear of what’s going on in the news everyday, Fear that your career will suffer and then your mortgage etc… it’s exhaustion, so tired you end up crying. And migraines that have you rocking back and forth sobbing with the pain.
People often used to say that I was a very negative person and I was very defensive. I struggle with worrying about things that haven’t happened: worrying about “What-ifs”. Throughout my entire School life I dealt with being bullied and so I became a very defensive and snappy person, it was how I coped with the daily bullying. I had my first Panic Attack when I went back to England after my first Canadian Visa ended: I was out with my Best Friend at the local pub and she is the most social person ever, she just has this incredible ability to chat to people and make Friends so easily, well she saw about 3 girls who used to be in my year at School, The “Popular Girls”, yeah, I know that sounds childish but that’s what they were back in Secondary School and they always talked down to me, called me a loser and basically made my life Hell, she was good Friends with them and I sat down with them all thinking that things would be different and they’d all have grown up, The looks they kept shooting me across the picnic bench could’ve had me in a body bag! They all refused to talk to me and made a point to only speak to my Friend while glowering at me. I excused myself and went in to the washroom, I could feel my breathing getting heavier, I was starting to gasp for air, tears were streaming down my face as I tried to calm myself down, I couldn’t, it was my first full-blown panic attack, and it was brought on my three snotty small-town girls who hadn’t grown up. In the end I stumbled back out to find my Friend to say that I was heading home, she looked shocked at my state and tried to walk me home, I told her to stay and I’d call her when I got home (she made her Boyfriend walk me home). I got home, sat down on the stairs and started sobbing, the gasping started to calm down, my Parents weren’t home so they couldn’t help me. When I’d calmed down enough, I thought about the triggers. I knew that I couldn’t let some small-town Mean Girls control my emotions like that again. As it was I started working in a pub and my self-confidence improved greatly.
I left the small down again anyway and moved back to Canada, my Self-confidence began to pick up but then I had to start going through Canadian Immigration, I was with my boyfriend and the stress of not knowing if I was going to be told to leave the country and not allowed to stay with the man that I loved (it doesn’t matter how I word that it’s going to sound bloody melodramatic but genuinely that’s how it was) made my anxiety worse, then being told that I couldn’t leave Canada while the documents were being processed but I was not allowed to get a job during that time. Anyway, I got through, obviously, and I married my Husband! I got a great career and things started to be looking up. Things got worse after some issues surrounding my wedding. In 2015 I spent two (separate) nights in Hospital with severe chest pains, It felt like a Heart attack – the Doctor confirmed that after all, it was severe anxiety and said that if I didn’t get a handle on my Anxiety that I was going to have severe issues with my health. It scared me, badly.
I decided that It was time to focus on my Family, my Wonderful Husband, my true Friends and my Health and Career, I signed up for a University licensing course, I started taking spontaneous weekend trips to see my Friend, started blogging! I started to take back control of what the anxiety had done to my way of life. I still have anxiety from time to time but I have a better handle on it now and i’m able to tell my mind to quiet down!
When you have Anxiety, you want to stay holed up indoors, you’re missing life, you can’t let negativity rule your life, it will eventually consume you and then you end up with nothing because you shut everyone out and people stop trying to get through. Don’t end up like that, talk to someone! I did and I’ve not felt this happy in YEARS!
What to do if you feel a panic attack coming on or if you’re feeling dressed or anxious:
If you’re feeling panicked or stressed. Take a moment. I often listen to stress/ anxiety relieving music and binaural beats on YouTube and I find it REALLY helps me. Take a few minutes to breath deeply, you’ll feel more panicked if your breathing is fast and shallow so close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Listen to some music that you know makes you feel happy. Drink less Caffeine if you’re a serious coffee lover (and chocolate) then try something like Tea Pigs Licorice & Peppermint tea it’s really good for anxiety (I find) or just a good old mug of Tetley tea with a spoonful of sugar: I NEVER drink sugar in my tea I hate it, however, if i’m really panicked or stressed or something has happened that has really upset me, something about a cup of tea with a spoonful of sugar in it does calm me down.
Life is worth living to its fullest, be happy, train yourself to say yes, to do things that are out of your comfort zone and to lead a happier lifestyle. You can be a happier person, but you have to be willing to take that first step and make that change, I promise you, it’s SO worth it!
Take Care of Yourselves