1. When did your anxiety start?
I want to say first that I don’t have an anxiety disorder but feelings of paranoia really started when I left primary school. Because I showed little outward signs of being anxious, I thought that to overthink and get paranoid about very small things was normal. It was only when I went to secondary school and started to meet other people who talked about it that I could put a name to how I feel, especially in the last couple of years. However, these feelings have probably been around for a while without any kind of label.
2. What symptoms do you have?
Apart from breathing first and shaking, I don’t show many external signs except for being very resistant to people sometimes: it’s mostly in my head. When I’m panicking, above all when I feel out of control or lost, I feel very cold and like everything is receding around me, to the point where I feel physically ill. Because I don’t have panic attacks very often, my brain has a tendency to believe I’m making everything up but if the thoughts are there even for no external signs, it’s real. Also, when I’m anxious, I find it difficult to figure out what’s true and what isn’t; I also don’t believe people when they tell me positive things such as that everything is fine.
3. How do you control it?
Through the help of my friends, I’ve learned to ground myself as best as I can: I often tell myself indisputable facts that I know to be true about myself and the people around me. As well as that, I think of 4 things I can hear, 9 things I can touch, 2 things I can smell and 1 thing I can taste: it’s reasonably successful. I’ve got much better at it as I’ve started to define the true problems I’m experiencing. Talking about it has also helped to sort things out about how I feel which has subsequently meant I can deal with it better.
4. Have you ever tried yoga/meditation/acupuncture?
Actually I haven’t; I really want to. My sister has said that she and I can meditate together as it helps her to get her thoughts more in order and to decrease her worry. I hope it can do the same for me.
5. Does it impact your every day life?
Not outwardly but it has in how I go about life and think about things. I’ve become more withdrawn in a way and it takes me a while to mentally prepare myself to do things. As a result, I’m bad at sticking to deadlines and even getting out of the bed in the morning is a struggle.
6. Have you made changes to your life because of anxiety?
I’m a lot more cautious in how I do things now; as I said earlier, I’ve become more closed off and am occasionally so paranoid about approaching people that I just don’t do it. Because I’m extremely self-depreciating as a by-product of feelings of anxiousness, I’ve had to avoid situations where I could get into an argument with someone because I’m so worried I’d turn it all on myself. In a nutshell, I don’t communicate with people as much as before in many parts of my life. However, I now set aside about 10 minutes of my day to give myself a talk about all the positive things that can happen which helps keeps the anxiety less intrusive for a while.
7. Do any foods make your anxiety worse?
No: food has never been a point of worry for me, except when I lose motivation to want to eat. Luckily, it’s not been affected much by any anxiety I’ve experienced; nor does anxiety increase when I’m around any type of food.
8. Has your anxiety changed with age?
As I’ve got older and different things have happened in my life, it’s got more serious. However, on the flipside, I’m better able to deal with it as it worsens. Now that I’m aware of other people who feel a similar way, it’s really helped to prove to my mind that I’m not alone and not attention-seeking. Even so, I’ve noticed a pattern in my life that when a particularly unpleasant event happens, my paranoia worsens before stabilising, even if a lower point, to a manageable level.
9. Do the people in your life understand your condition?
Although I don’t have a condition as such, my friends are the most understanding people I could ask for. They were the main source of advice I received in order to help me understand what was happening; as well as that, the blogging community has been amazing. My dad understands it but I haven’t let on to him how bad it gets and my mother doesn’t understand much at all. On the whole, though, people do understand and don’t make me feel self-conscious or awful for feeling the way I do.
10. What’s your best advice for those struggling with mental health issues?
There is always someone to talk to. Whether that be a family member, friend, professional or stranger, somebody will listen and somebody has gone through something similar to you. That might not feel comforting yet but whatever happens, you’re not alone in how you feel. You aren’t by yourself. Things will get better and for you, to take the first step might be to understand that there’s always someone there for you.
Talking about this in this tag has made me feel a lot more open with myself. If you ever need to talk about your anxiety or mental health, there are plenty of people who would be willing to help you: you aren’t alone.
Thank you so much to Larissa for organising this collab; you are a wonderful person and friend. I also love your blog so much because the experiences you talk about I can personally relate to. You’ve helped me a lot and I hope you know that.
From Elm 🙂