What to say about Anxiety?
Feeling of anxiousness are a rational response to plenty of circumstances, you might bite your nails before a job interview or lose sleep waiting for important news. Anxiety is linked to ‘fight or flight‘ an automatic evolutionary response to perceived threat designed, essentially, to keep us alive longer. It’s what might give us the speed & strength to escape from a big old bear (or wrestle it, depending on your options – I know which I’d go for but hey, if one dropped out of the sky into my cereal I might not have any choice). Being an automatic response, ‘fight or flight’ is not a thing we can control. But it is not immune to malfunction, and this is where Anxiety with a capital ‘A’ comes in.
You know that normal feelings of anxiety have become the capital ‘A’ variety when you worry constantly about day-to-day events or situations or about things that are unlikely to happen.
For me, anxiety tends to be a symptom of depression. A hypo-manic phase can also bring it on. I find it manifests itself as intense fear and dread which cannot be shaken. This causes lots of nasty things to become part of my life:
Insomnia, panic attacks, the shakes (technical term), dizziness, nausea and a weird pins and needles type feeling or numbness. There’s more but it’s been a while (thankfully) so this list isn’t comprehensive. Mind can tell you more about common symptoms of anxiety.
My first experience of Anxiety with a capital ‘A’ caused me to obsess that something terrible was going to happen to someone I loved. I could easily become hysterical if anyone was late in arriving home or planned to do anything that wasn’t routine. The sound of my parents car pulling in to the entry a few doors away, the little squeak of the gate as my brother arrived home was a blessed relief. I developed a bit of a thing about light switches and stairs for a while and struggled to sleep. I was not much fun to live with. Other specific focuses of my anxiety have been an obsession with potential failure (work,relationships etc) and highly unlikely threats (ever lain awake devising a natural-disaster-survival plan despite living in suburban England? I must stop reading apocalyptic fiction).
That state of constant high alert is exhausting. For me anxiety has come and gone in phases linked to bipolar episodes and it can sometimes be triggered simply by a reminder of a time or place linked to a previous experience of anxiety or a panic attack (something as innocuous as a scent even) You can end up becoming anxious about becoming anxious and panicking about panic. Nice.
Intense symptoms of anxiety may lead to a diagnosis of Generalised Anxiety Disorder. They are also part of
Amongst other things.
Therapies tend to be focused on management rather than cure. I found CBT helpful in tackling the negative thought-train or catastrophic thinking linked to my own anxiety (I was skeptical at first but I was given a CBT self-help book by a very kind friend and it’s made a difference. I also dealt with it as part of Interpersonal Therapy sessions which also had an impact) but sometimes it’s just bigger than I am. And I think that’s important for people to understand. It’s not something anyone should have to cope with alone. And if anyone tries to tell you ‘just stop thinking about it’ remember; violence is not the answer.