Anxiety

I have an anxiety disorder. I know where it came from and even though the past is truly the past, it
still leaves me damaged. Anxiety makes my hands shake and makes my pale ginger face blush deeply.
Most people think I’m upset, but that’s not always the case. In many cases, I am just nervous,
anxious, and sometimes excited. It’s quite noticeable and not at all an accurate portrayal of my
emotional or rational state of mind; other than the fact that I am experiencing some form of anxiety
and emotion. It’s embarrassing and challenging.

Anxiety makes me feel sick to my stomach. You know that dropping feeling in your stomach when you
look down from a high up place or take that first ride down the hill of a roller coaster at an
amusement park? It’s like that, but it’s not amusing and it doesn’t go away. It’s frustrating when
you feel like you can’t control your trembling hands and red face. Anxiety makes me feel panicked and
makes me want to run away. When my anxiety is at it’s worst, I get that sick stomach, feelings of
dread, light headedness, shallow breath like I can’t get enough oxygen, and at the very peak I feel
shivers over my body (I shake all over, not just my hands), I feel the blood draining from my face
(my face turns ghost white and sickly), and there is black around the edges of my vision that close
in on me… and this is what it feels like to pass out from extreme anxiety. I image it’s like going
into shock, and nurses freak out when that happens during blood work (ugh needles)! I also loose my
will to speak, which says a lot because I’m a talker. If I’m at the point that the prospect of
talking is too much for me, I’m probably going to pass out. Thankfully, this happens rarely.

Anxiety creates this overwhelming dread. Anxiety dread is like being told there was a fatal bus crash
and you are waiting to find out who died… it’s that agonizing moment before you find out if your
loved ones are alive or dead. It’s that feeling of knowing you are in trouble and you just don’t know
if you are going to get away it… like having a warrant out for your arrest and seeing cops every
where you go. It’s like that, except that in most case the situation isn’t that dire… it just feels
like it. The more serious the situation, the worse the anxiety. Imagine what you feel and times it by
three, and that’s probably how I feel when I’m having anxiety. When situations are relatively minor
or possitve in nature, there is still an over abundance of anxiety, but not usually that severe case
of dread. That’s me though… who knows how bad the anxiety or dread is for someone else. I know
there are people out there who experience the extreme symptoms even during relatively harmless
situations. For me, a positive situation that results in anxiety feels like being hyper and super
excited while also having a hangover. It’s hard to imagine, but that’s how it feels.

It makes me avoid whatever is causing the anxiety, to the point that I feel like I just can’t do what
it is that I need to do, often important things, and sometimes things I want to do. Anxiety fools me
into believing that I don’t want to do the things that I wanted to do a moment ago. I doubt myself
and my abilities. I fear what will happen or won’t happen, or what others think about me.

Anxiety makes me feel self conscious, because in many cases people judge me. They don’t understand
what it’s like to have anxiety to this degree. They don’t understand that you don’t “just control
it”, you can’t just not feel this way, you can’t just make it go away and not come back. You accept
yourself, you accept that you have it, and you learn to manage it. It gets better when you learn how
to deal with it and learn what works best for you. People can judge, but in the end, their opinion
doesn’t matter, and that’s one way I’ve come to deal with my anxiety.

Anxiety is not WHO I am. It’s an affliction. Who I am is brave, strong willed, and a fire tempered
redhead. I am a child at heart, fun loving, and adventurous! I am everything that anxiety is not. I
am strong willed and I demand to be happy! Who I am plays an enormous role in my battle with anxiety.
Accepting who I am was a huge step in finding happiness and dealing with anxiety. Yes, I still have
an anxiety disorder, but I manage it quite well on a day to day basis.

I am determined not to let anxiety ruin my life or my fun for that matter. When my hands shake, I
still reach out to shake a hand. When my face is flushed with anxiety, I pretend like I don’t notice
it, and then I smile so show people that I’m okay (when I’m actually okay). I don’t generally hide
it… though sometimes I do when I’m feeling like I’m not managing it well enough. When I want to do
something, I just take a deep breath and I take a leap of faith! I just do it. I can’t stop the
anxiety, but I can recognize what it’s doing to me and not let it stop me. I have gone to amazing
raves, parties, conventions, and social gatherings, all despite nagging anxiety. I have anticipation
anxiety on the way to conventions, which is very difficult because it seems to worsen with car
sickness. However, with the support of my husband and good friends, it’s not hard to forget about
anxiety and enjoy the ride! It’s amazing how easily anxiety can melt away when you are having a good
time. I get anxiety when I’m about to meet a celebrity, or pitch a new idea to my crew (we’re a
Steampunk Airship group), and anxiety for many other reasons… but I do these things anyway and I’ve
managed to have a great time and amazing experiences. I never want to miss out on the good things in
life because of fear and anxiety.

Having the support of my husband and friends, and people who are kind and understanding, has a huge
impact on how I deal with my anxiety. When I have the right people around, their presence alone
improves my emotional well being. A good mood is detrimental to anxiety. If you don’t have good,
loyal, and patient people in your life, then you need to get some. When I was anti social and didn’t
have friends, I was very alone and sad, and my anxiety was unmanageable. I got tired of being unhappy
to the point that I was ANGRY! I decided that I didn’t care what judgmental, mean people thought
about me and I reached out to other people like me, who were outcasts and lonely. I tried to be a
good friend, and I dared to just be ME. I stopped trying to define myself and stopped trying to find
a place where I belonged. I decided that I was JUST ME, no explanation or definition was necessary. I
decided that I belonged anywhere I chose to go, and the world and the people in it would just have to
deal with it or get out of my way. Surprisingly, I ended up in a far happier place with people who
were worth my time and love. Along the way, I learned how to be a better friend, a better person.
I’ve learned that everyone is judgmental in some way and everyone can be a bully or a jerk, even if
they really aren’t that kind of person at heart. I have learned that everyone deserves a chance to be
better. Being angry at the world may have been motivation, but it’s not something to hold on to
forever. At some point, you have to let go of your anger and give way to forgiveness. My anger
wasn’t a by-product of my anxiety, but these two very strong emotions play a part in my life.

I know I said earlier that I made a choice to ignore anxiety and just do it… but it wasn’t as
linear and easy as it sounded. I didn’t simply do, I had to convince myself. I had to find it in
myself to objectively consider how much of my feelings and thoughts where anxiety induced, and
sometimes listen to the opinion of my family and friends. I had to work at considering the realistic
effects of my choices. What I am about to do really isn’t that scarey and I’m not going to die, get
sick, get fired, get divorced, loose a friend, or get yelled at. No one is going to think I’m stupid,
and if they do they aren’t good people and thus not worth worrying about. All I have to do is just
smile and say hello. Smiling isn’t hard, and saying hello is a good thing. Once I get my mind in the
right place and build up some courage… then I just do it. It’s not always that easy, and the
anxiety can be tearing me up inside the whole time, but once I do it, and something good comes of it,
the negative emotions start to dissipate. Then I feel more joy out of the sheer fact that I did it. I
overcame and I had fun! It’s like that gratifying feeling of saying “I told you so!” or witnessing
the karma whiplash of someone who did you wrong.

I have taken medication for my anxiety in the past, but I don’t anymore. I’m not opposed to medical
assistance, as it helped me a great deal when I felt like I was drowning in it. However, I don’t
believe that we should medicate just because we can. If I am happy and well, and I am managing my
anxiety, I don’t feel that I should have to take drugs. Sure, it’s not fun to deal with anxiety, but
neither is dealing with the side effects of medication. The question is, is the anxiety so bad that
it outweighs the side of effects of medication? There is no shame in getting extra help. No one
should have to suffer alone.

Most of the time, I am pretty happy and my anxiety is mild enough to just ignore. A lot of the time,
I can easily fix my anxiety with reason, or instant gratification. Instant gratification comes in
many forms, usually stemming from my compulsive obsessive side, from mass cleaning of the immediate
area (or entire apartment), to eating a candy bar, having a nice bath or dinner, painting/drawing,
sewing, or writing in one of my blogs, to playing in an MMO… anything that creates a positive
emotion. In many cases, just fixing the issue that’s causing the anxiety, or getting whatever
activity I was dreading over with, does the job just fine. In every situation, having support and
strong will is essential.

Anxiety is one of those afflictions that doesn’t play nice with other afflictions. I’m bipolar,
which means my emotions (good and bad) are overly passionately. I’m obsessive compulsive, so I tend
to be a bit neurotic about how things are done. When I’m having bipolar or neurotic episodes, this
can generate anxiety. When I am having a lot of anxiety, it can trigger my obsessive compulsiveness
or a bipolar mood swing. Luckily, I can deal with those afflictions in the same way that I deal with
anxiety. I have to recognize the affliction, accept who I am, convince myself to look at the
situation more objectively, and lean on my people when I need help. I’m getting better at managing
them all. Out of the three, I’d say that my obsessive compulsiveness has a greater hold on me. I have
won a lot of battles with it, but there are some specific things that I can’t seem to break or manage
at all. That alone makes me feel angry, embarrassed, and sometimes exhausted with trying to fight it
every single day and loosing the battle. It feels like, the more I fight it, the more my anxiety
surfaces, and then I get angry and the bipolar kicks in with force. I feel like the compulsion is the
hardest thing I have to deal with at this point. Once upon a time, my bipolar was the worst thing I
had to deal with, but not so much anymore.

Once upon a time, I was very ill and had to have life saving surgery. Getting well had a significant
impact on my ability to manage my afflictions. In addition to this, I have come to realize and
accept just how much sleeping and eating effects my mental state. If I don’t get enough sleep and I’m
not eating, my anxiety and bipolar are terrible. Battling mental disorders like anxiety,bipolar, and
obsessive compulsiveness, is a balancing act. It’s a lot like happiness in that their are up’s and
down’s and you have to learn to balance it.

So maybe you have met me, or will some day, and I may seem fine or balanced, or maybe I make it seem
easy, but it’s been years of practice to get here. If you knew me 12 years ago, you would know how
bad it was and how hard it was. I’m thankful for where I am now and I’m thankful for my loved ones. I
appreciate the support from everyone who have recently been there to support me (us).

I said it before and I’ll say it again… Anxiety is not WHO I am. It’s an affliction. Who I am is brave, strong willed, and a fire tempered redhead. I am a child at heart, fun loving, and adventurous! I am everything that anxiety is not. I
am strong willed and I demand to be happy!

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