Today I am honoured to bring to you an inspirational honest guest post from awesome blogger and friend Faye Rogers about anxiety.
It is a truthful post as Faye herself suffers from anxiety and within it there is strength and courage and I have total admiration for Faye for being so open……
For as long as I can remember, I have suffered with anxiety. There are times in my life that I remember, mostly as a child, when I lived a carefree life. I remember doing things without thought that I would now struggle to do without having a full blown panic attack. The problem is that these are things that other people still do without blinking, such as eating without washing their hands, eating at buffets, sharing a bag of crisps or sweets, shaking hands, high-fiving people and kissing, and getting messy and dirty without fear or worry.
What you may notice is that the above things have something in common; germs. For some reason, I feel very anxious about germs. I know that the reason for this is because it is something I cannot see or control. I do not know if I have germs on me, I do not know if those germs will cause me to be ill, or worse die and I cannot control the outcome if they do. I do not know what germs other people carry – even though I know deep down they probably don’t have any germs, I can’t stop my brain from thinking that they just might.
Knowing why my anxiety occurs, however, does not stop it from cropping up all over the place. It is helpful in some respects but not so helpful in others, especially when other people just don’t get it and because you can’t find the words to explain it, can’t get them to truly understand. The biggest problem about explaining anxiety to someone who doesn’t have anxiety problems is that they don’t realise that you already know your fears and worries are not rational.
The most common things I hear from strangers, friends and loved ones are along the lines of;
– “You really just need to get over it.”
– “But that doesn’t make any sense.”
– “Well, that’s not a rational outlook.”
– “Do you really have to ruin the fun?”
– “It’s fine, just eat it.”
– “Just stop.”
They’re not saying these things maliciously. They just don’t understand. And that’s the problem. There isn’t enough information and awareness on anxiety for people to know that anxiety is often outside of our control. It is an illness and while it can be controlled, it will never fully be cured. I will have good days and I will have bad days but my anxiety will never fully disappear. This is something that I have come to live with and accept and it has made dealing with my illness a lot easier.
The fact that very few people understand about anxiety means that I actually struggle to be forward about it. It’s gotten better in the last few years, especially since I went to therapy and did CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) for it, but it still isn’t something I outwardly talk about to new people and some people in my family still don’t know that I struggle with anxious thoughts and feelings. So I’m hoping that in a few years time I can stop hiding away because people will understand what I’m going through and be able to help due to being better informed about it.
So today I wanted to give a few pointers about some good ways to deal with people who suffer from anxiety, just in case you know someone who does.
– Be sympathetic; Tell them that you understand and allow them to take as much time as they need to, to overcome whatever is causing their anxiety at that given moment. Never rush them. The more you rush, the more pressure they’ll feel and the worse the anxious feeling/panic attack will occur.
– Don’t make their anxieties small; Avoid telling your friend that they’re “being silly” or that they should “get over it”. Because we are trying to do that but it’s not that easy. A lot of the time we don’t understand why we feel the way we do so we don’t know how to get over it and telling us we’re being silly makes us feel small and makes us believe our feelings and thoughts are not worth your time.
– Don’t be judgmental; We need to know that you’re not going to tease us for the way we feel or look down upon us, especially if our anxiety is hindering something we’re doing or need to do. These actions will make us feel alone, depressed and, incidentally more anxious because now we’ll be fearing our uncontrollable reactions around you.
– Listen to us and try to calm us down; A lot of the time talking about what is making us anxious can help to reduce it. When we’re anxious, it’s possibly that we’re waging a war in our own heads about how we’re feeling. The rational side trying to calm us down while the irrational takes full control. If you hear us and don’t belittle our thoughts but try to help in a calm, gentle and supportive manor, you may be able to help to. But please do not feel insulted if you don’t. It is not you, it is the illness.
– Understand that anxiety has physical attributes; We may have a problem in our brains but it can manifest itself into physical problems. These can be gut issues, nauseous, symptoms of heart attack (but despite thinking we’re having a heart attack, we’re not), shaking, pacing, shortness of breath, freezing up and sweating. If we tell you we feel anxious and starting getting physical attributes, just try and keep us calm but most importantly, just be there for us.
– Don’t force us to do anything; You may think that getting someone who is anxious to face their fear has the potential to help and it definitely can but only if said person is ready. By forcing us, either physically or emotionally, you may be crippling our anxieties later and making what could be passed quickly to manifest into a full blown panic attack. Would you force someone with diabetes to eat a bowl of sugar? In this case, if we say we don’t want to do something, let it slide and move on.
– Treat us like humans; Please, don’t act differently around us. We’re still us. We’re still humans but we just need some time sometimes. We may need to not walk on the cracks in the pavement, or not share that bag of crisps with you, we may need to wash our hands three times at once and at least twelve times a day but this is just our way of stopping the anxiety from crippling us completely.
– Read up about anxiety; Research it. Find out more about it. Perhaps suggest we go to therapy because it could help but remember, don’t force it on us. Therapy will only work if we’re ready to go and do it. Be informed and educated and that way, we’ll feel supported, loved and less like a burden and thus may finally have more good days to bad ones.
I’m sorry if this post feels like I’m badgering at you, I’m not trying to do that. I just know that some people don’t think before they say and do things because they just don’t know what is happening underneath it all. I also want to say that if you suffer from anxiety, you’re not alone. It’s tough and it’s hard but I am certain that we are strong and will continue to survive. Our anxiety may never fully go away, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to beat us down.
Below are some links to websites talking about anxiety and offering help and support. They’re all very helpful and most include helplines/online help within them.
A Daydreamer’s Thoughts was founded on September 15th 2011. It is a blog that consists of book reviews, film reviews, book articles, film articles, author interviews, guest posts, features, and memes. It is run by Faye who enjoys the task immensely and is always happy to communicate with her followers.
You can follow Faye on twitter using @daydreamin_star
I would like to say a huge big thank you to Faye for featuring on my blog today and for being so open and honest. I really believe that the more we talk about mental health the more together we can crush the stigmas attached, become more aware of mental health and of course give people the courage they need to confide in people and get any help they may need without the fear of stigma!
Looking for some Mental Health reads? Click here
For more about Mental Health and Mental Health week – please visit http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/ or any of the links above!