I think some people are more prone to anxiety than others, but that does not mean you have to live with it. You can use it as a chance to reassess your life because anxiety is the body's way of telling you that you are dealing with too much.
Stages of anxiety:
The invisible build up - most (not all) people that suffer from anxiety are kind, caring, sensitive, forgiving, empathic people, which can be their downfall. This type of personality attracts several unhealthy personality types:
1. Vampires: people who offload onto you and make their stress your stress.
2. Users: They only ever get in touch when their life is in turmoil and they usually want 'a favour', they then disappear until the next crisis.
Equally you may have your own personality traits that add to stress build up:
1. You may find it hard to say no to people - which works well for those above personality types.
2. You may have a desire to be a high achiever.
3. You may care too much about people that do not care about you.
Usually people are blind to the invisible stage.
Visible build-up - You are semi-aware that you are stressed, but that's because your life feels hectic, so you accept this and carry on as normal. The kids might be driving you mad, work might stress you out, you might be drinking more and making jokes about it, or eating unhealthily because you don't have time to make meals from scratch ... the list goes on, but most people in this stage are semi-aware they are stressed. I use the phrase semi-aware because if you were fully aware, you would do something about it.
Anxiety phase - It feels as if it hits out of nowhere. Your first panic attack sends you into a spiral of shock, fear and dread as you become afraid of your own mind and body. You wander around, searching for your former self, but you are nowhere to be found. Simple tasks that you managed only weeks ago, like going to the super market or driving your car, feel impossible. You can't stop worrying about possible disasters that will turn your life upside down. You try to hide it for a while and carry on as normal, but you are certain that everyone is aware of what is going on, and you feel that they are judging you. You feel scared about how out of control everything feels.
Escape route - You look for a way to stop the sensations and thoughts that invade your body and mind. It might be in the form of food, alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling, over exercising, or you might retreat from the world and lock yourself away. You are looking for an escape from the horror that has become your daily life, and while some of the above things may give you temporary relief, you know that anxiety is there, lurking in the background.
Identity - You wear anxiety like a layer of clothing and it becomes part of who you are. You have become a 'master' at living with anxiety, and you now identify yourself as anxious. Sometimes it works in your favour when you want to get out of things that do not interest you, a lot of the time it drains the life out of you and restricts you like an invisible coat of amour that only you see and feel.
Curing it - You can't keep living like this. You want to get well and go in search of medication 'to take it away'. Sometimes it helps for a short while, but you dare not think about coming off the pills.
Cycles: You may develop a cycle of having good / bad times. If you are lucky you will get some relief from time to time and during those times, you remember how it feels to be care free, to be able to do anything you want without anxiety standing over you like a shadow.
Final stage - You've had enough. You no longer want to live like this. You don't want to rely on medication forever. You want your life back. You want to be 'you' again, the person before.
I am here to tell you that you can be, infact you can actually be your best ever self after anxiety. I know this, because I lived with anxiety in childhood and it impacted upon my life hugely. I also lived with panic disorder and anxiety in adulthood. I was a prisoner in my own body - I have now been anxiety free for 10 yrs+, I have lost loved ones and endured many different forms of life stress, BUT I HAVE NOT SUFFERED PANIC ATTACKS OR ANXIETY SINCE. You can also live a life free of anxiety if you choose to. Check out my website to find out more visit my shop and check out The Road to Recovery PDF.
Laura Adams - qualified counsellor and owner @InnerPeaceBears
When I was in the full throws of anxiety, I struggled to visualise who I would be without it because it was one of the few things that I was certain of - I was an anxious person and I was very good at it.
I wore anxiety like a spiked comfort blanket; a blanket that gave both reassurance and pain at the same time, but despite the torture it inflicted upon me, I was terrified to remove it because I feared who I would be without it.
I walked in this world of pain for years, until I decided I'd had enough. I knew that if I did not fight it head on, my life was over. Everyday was a living nightmare punctured with FEAR, pain, terror and so many bodily reactions it was beyond overwhelming. I prayed at night that I would die in my sleep because the thought of waking to another day of 'it' was too much. No-one seemed to understand and I get that now, because the reality was I didn't understand it myself.
I did it - I fought back over 12 months or so, and I won. The woman who was too terrified to go to the supermarket, or on a night out, gained a degree in counselling. The woman that cancelled 2 holidays to Spain, because she couldn't fly, emigrated from England to Australia. The woman that wore the cloak of anxiety, removed it and stamped all over it and shredded it to make sure she would never have to wear it again.
What I want to say is that there is hope because if I can go from a lifetime (from childhood) of living with anxiety to overcoming it (plus a lot more since), anyone can. 🌸
As a child anxiety felt like unexplained terror that would come on as quickly as the flick of a switch. I never understood what was happening inside of my mind and body. I hated the fear that pumped through my veins like ice, for no reason. I hated the nausea that rose within me, stealing my appetite. I hated that it made me act weird at times; I could go from being a normal relaxed child, to a terrified anxious wreck within seconds, and what chance did I have of explaining how I felt when I did not understand it myself. I just assumed everyone felt this way, but I spent a lot of time in my own head feeling scared and confused about my own body. I spent a lot of time away from school because anxiety sat beside me in the classroom, invisible to everyone else in the room but a constant reminder to me that I was terrified.
If only my parents had sat me down and talked about what I was going through, and explained how anxiety impacts on the mind and body, maybe I would not have spent all of my teens suffering. Maybe if I had understood that it was simply too much adrenalin pumping through my body I would have felt able to fight it.
I gave so many years of my life to anxiety and like the greedy monster that it is, the more I gave it, the more it wanted. It ate into my early adult years and stopped me from being married in a church, because the thought of all of those people looking at me terrified me. It stopped me accepting promotions, going overseas, enjoying nights out with friends and so much more.
That was many years ago now because i found a way through anxiety and I am now stronger and more determined than I ever thought possible, but it was not an easy battle to win, and it's not something I would wish on anyone.
I have since gained a degree & a graduate diploma in Counselling, I moved from the UK to Australia and have travelled the world, and my passion is helping children that have been affected by trauma and anxiety.
As a former child anxiety sufferer and counsellor, the best thing that parents can do is educate their children about what anxiety is, and encourage self care and relaxation.
Each child's story is unique, but anxiety remains the same in the way that it affects children and family members, and the foundations for overcoming anxiety start with educating children about what it is, and how it makes you feel and how to look after yourself in order to reduce it. (For further information, worksheets are available in my shop).
Laura - Inner Peace Bears
As a former sufferer of childhood anxiety, my passion is helping children and parents overcome anxiety. I currently work as a child trauma counsellor part time and in my spare time I write and build my website which has a shop dedicated with resources that aim to reduce anxiety. Thank you for reading my blog. Laura 🌸