A Bundle Of Nerves

A Bundle Of Nerves

Vague thoughts on anxiety

It’s happening again, the same way it happened before. That creeping dread, the audiovisual over-stimulation coming from nowhere but your own head. It creates invisible barriers between you and the rest of the world. Friends, family, classes and hobbies all end up feeling vague and distant. If this sounds familiar to you, then you likely suffer from one of the myriad forms of anxiety. Anxiety is far from an uncommon occurrence, whether it be a passing feeling or a consistent diagnosis. Most everyone has had to deal with anxiety's strange internal tensions at some point. It can manifest itself in a variety of ways, ranging from a simple reaction to stress to a protracted struggle between yourself and your own brain.

My particular strain of anxiety is hypochondria: a constant fear of something out of my control going wrong with my body or health. More often than not, it is extremely illogical. Aches become tumours, floaters and specks become possible blindness and even when there is nothing in particular for my brain to obsess over, I tend to be left with a foggy sense of impending doom. Even when it feels like the logical side of my mind has won out, and I am able to go about my day and enjoy myself, there will oftentimes be a small corner of my brain declaring fire and brimstone like some sort of drug-fueled street preacher. Some days it seems to come out of nowhere, others it mutates out of latent stress, but each time it feels like trying to walk through a tar pit. Grotesque strands of black ooze cling and drag, impeding any sort of progress or productivity.

One of the most consistent “symptoms” of prolonged anxiety spikes tends to be fatigue. A general sense of immobility overtakes you, draining your energy whilst simultaneously refilling your mind with dread. Mustering the willpower to go to classes or the library and dedicate yourself to work can feel like an uphill battle against a nigh impossible foe, while observers at the fringes of the war zone may simply tut and snigger some nonsense about laziness. This is all too common, obnoxiously familiar territory to many people, myself included. Even in class, there is no guarantee of a constructive use of time seeing as, more often than not, your attention span is completely shot. I either find myself catching floaters and sparks in my vision, nerves getting the better of me as my line of sight darts around like a madman, or wrapped in a miasma of gloom and fear.

The best things to remember in times like these, when it feels like your entire mental infrastructure is collapsing in on itself, is that your problems are not unique. You are not alone in your nervous throes. Though, at times, it can be among the most isolating feelings you may ever experience, someone -- somewhere -- is going through the same thing. I know that won’t return your energy, nor will it magically soothe your worries, but it is the first strike of the chisel into the stone. Without an understanding of what triggers you, without the knowledge that others struggle alongside you, in essence you are dooming yourself to wallow in a lonely smog, toxic and draining.

If you don't accept it you are just going to make it worse.

Suggested reading: Anxiety is an Invalid Excuse

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Poetry On Odyssey: Nature Of The Anxious

Fear is the least of our worries

Where in the world am I? I feel it. It’s there on my shoulder just sitting there keeping me company. Clinging to my thoughts so rich in its worry, darkness, and dismay. A being so minuscule in size, yet so strong. Binding to my shoulder and whispers, whispers his worry; feeling his fear weighing down my chest like lead.


Amidst his tiny claws he slacks there cupping a watch rusting from tears and etched with strained, fracturing glass slowly going tick-tock-tick-tock. "Sir, sir do you like me clock? I will never let go," it whispers.


“Please go away, I feel I cannot catch a breath. For something so light your grip is fast; tiny in size but vice heavy. Weary from hoping for a merciful end.”


“Ol’ chap I intend no harm upon thee, solely for a listening ear and some compassion,” confessed the innocent being. “Look at the time and I will share my worries.”


Muttering away, politely jesting onward the beast did lay with the reoccurring dismay; leaving its victim baffled in a limbo of worries and answers to appease.


“Where are you now? I can feel and hear your presence; though you are loose like sand in an hourglass—Wait!" he gasped as his throat tightened up. “Calm down sir,” the squeaky voice uttered: "you have plenty of time to fret; for you have experienced nothing yet.”


“Show yourself, show yourself, please. What is it that you want,” the victim begged. Nothing but eerie silence was heard in response, and a flaky, dry hand sliding down his collarbone; proceeding until it met rigid chest muscles. “I simply want a friend; you know, a mate to share the good and bad with; to share me troubles."


"Tell me, how does it feel when nothing gets done, plenty to do and time literally slips through your fingertips; isn't it fun?" heckled the tiny beast. "Something as subjective as time flows freely, but time delays for no one; it is greedy. Pacing to-and-fro with overwhelming emotions that drives the mind insane with truthful lies."

"Stop! Please end this and leave me be, let me sleep in peace, bemoaned the boy growing in distress. "You want to be friends but didn't even tell me your name." "Pardon any rudeness, my name is Phobos, it means panic," he mumbled.


As the night wore on the sleep-deprived boy grew colder and more adamant, until his little guest declared its name. "Hush now, time to rest mate, go to bed. Though, making your acquaintance has made me hungry; and I see a tasty morsel growing ever tastier in his disarray," Phobos's voice echoed.

Finally, the creature materialized from viscous shadows of the boy's room and tore off his skull mask--nothing there but a dark hole that engulfed his prize like the glutton he was. The clock struck twelve and he awoke with his little monster sitting comfortably upon him, staring and caressing his clock. All that was left was a hollow husk of his victims self--voice dissolved, except a reverberating ribcage going tick-tock, tick-tock.

Cover Image Credit: Shawn Coss On Facebook

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5 Things To Do When Someone Is Having A Panic Attack

How to react in the event of someone having a panic attack.

1. Don't panic!

Not everyone has had the experience of witnessing or having a panic attack, and honestly, it can be pretty hard to see. Although your natural instinct may be to panic as well because you don't know what to do, the most important thing you can do for someone in this state remains calm and be an anchor for them to stay grounded.

Take a step back and take a deep breath to find your cool, then you can help them find theirs. When someone is panicking the best thing you can do is be calm for them. Ways to do this are by talking in a calmer and slower voice than normal and be gentle with them.

2. Ask/listen to what they want.

While there are general things that seem to be beneficial to most people, everyone is different and one person may not want you to do certain things that might help another person. For example, while one person would find comfort in a hug during this time, another person may prefer having space to themselves. If you would like to try to help someone and have a way to do so, simply asking "would it help if I ____" or "could I ____" is not a bad thing to do.

Understand that even if you ask this person a question, they might not answer, and that is okay. Although an answer may feel urgent, give the person time to try to answer and if they still don't then go with your instincts of what feels right.

3. Help them breathe.

When having a panic attack, one of the person's biggest issues is trying to breathe. There are many different breathing techniques that people recommend, and talking the person through any of these that feel right can make it easier for them.

Tell the person to take a long, deep, slow breath in through their nose, hold in the air, then release the air from their mouth like they are blowing on something. When I walk a person through these steps, I try to do it with them as I direct them in order to help them find a steady pace.

4. Take their mind off of what is going on.

This can be done in many ways, but mostly talking about positive or funny things that will make the situation more lighthearted will help take them out of their panic. Whether it is reflecting on good memories between you and that person or telling them an embarrassing childhood story, anything that can make them think about something other than the fact that they don't feel well is important to hear.

If you do not know the person very well, a good way to approach this is by asking them questions about themselves that are simple enough for them to be able to answer but make them think about something else.

5. Give them reassurance.

When having a panic attack, it often feels like the actual end of the world. As simple as it may sound, reassurance that those feelings are only temporary and that everything will be okay will go a long way. It is important to show your full support for this person and let them know that there is nothing wrong with them for feeling this way, and that you want to be helping them because they deserve to feel better, not because you have to.

Sometimes you may feel helpless or confused in a situation when you are trying to be there for someone and your actions don't have an immediate/obvious effect, but just keep in mind that this person does not want to feel this way and probably is even self conscious about how it affects other people. If you really want to help this person, you will remind yourself that everything will be okay, then remind the person panicking that everything will be okay too.

Cover Image Credit: Thuy Bercher

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