In The Mind of Anxiety: Experiencing A Panic Attack

In The Mind of Anxiety: Experiencing A Panic Attack

A first person POV of what is is like to live with anxiety.
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This week I have sadly experienced, yet another, disgusting representation of the stigma around anxiety. I overheard people making fun of anxiety. It made me realize that, yes, I could tell you the story of what happened, but the real issues here was the fact that their jokes came from their lack of knowledge.

Most of today's negative behavior around mental health stems from lack of discussion. As a matter of fact, I was criticized for posting about my PTSD because someone thought that I couldn't possibly have it. PTSD is associated with war veterans, which is why they found my diagnosis so confusing.

I feel it is my job to help the world understand what goes on in my head. I have been diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder), which stems my panic attacks.

But I realize most of you don't know what it feels like to have a panic attack. You may not know what in the world is going on in my head when my body is shutting down. So, I will tell you (in the best way I can).

First, in 2016, I had severe functioning anxiety. This occurred to me after the death of a cousin and I had never seen a therapist. My morning started like this, but I will use this in terms of "you" so you can place yourself in my shoes.

You wake up in the morning. Your eyes flutter open to see your room, but it wasn't the alarm that woke you up. Your stomach is sick, but an empty sick (as if you were hungry). You check your phone to see that it is only five in the morning, but you recall falling asleep around three.

Your body starts to shake, even under several different blankets. The shaking increases over the next few minutes, making your empty stomach weaker and weaker. Eventually, you spring out of bed and rush to the toilet where you vomit up nothing.

You haven't eaten in a few days. Not because you are watching your weight, or because you are sick. You haven't eaten because every time you bring food to your mouth, your mind finds something else to get anxious about.

You start to walk around your house, but nobody is home. Suddenly, your breath is taken away by an unknown cause. Each breath you try to take is sharp, short, and non-satisfying. Then, your head chimes in.

Every bad thought you could ever have had, racing through your mind. Every possibility of how your day could go comes to your thoughts. Before you know it, you are crying and trying to calm down. Instead, you are starting off at the wall while sitting on the floor of your living room.

The shaking increases and becomes so bad that your body looks as if it is having a seizure. Your mouth freezes in place, unable to call out for help or say anything at all. Each muscle in your arm tenses up, locking your hands in a fist, as if it is chaining you permanently to this moment.

There is a weight on your chest, heavy enough to be 100 pounds laying against your lungs. You are convinced that this is the last moment you will ever be alive. There is no way your body would survive losing oxygen this long.

After ten minutes, the feeling fades and you are finally able to take a complete breath, but you haven't stopped shaking. You can now move your fingers and mouth, but you say nothing. Instead, you crawl back into bed because even one panic attack makes you feel as if you have run two marathons.

Laying in your bed, under the covers, you know the anxiety will only come back, but it is impossible to know when. Even the thought that it will come back gives you a sense of hopelessness. In a cloud of fog, you want to fall asleep, but your shaking body keeps you awake.

Over the past few months, you have lost several pounds and you have forgotten what it was like to have a social life. You don't talk to your friends anymore because it too hard to explain. You don't go out because panic attacks in public are a nightmare.

This is just one snapshot of living with severe anxiety. I have had panic attacks in public, at home, and even driving. Panic attacks can happen anywhere at anytime. In the worst of my panic, I had four attacks throughout the day.

I've lost over 30 pounds from anxiety, due to not eating. I have lost contact with friends because the thought of hanging out was terrifying.

So, before you make light of anxiety, think about this. What would you do if this was you every single day? How would it affect your life, job, friends, relationships? Think before you speak.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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12 Simple Ways To Ease Your Anxiety

These are some super simple ways to handle your stress at home.

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Anxiety and stress are very common problems for many of us in today's society.

Over 70% of adults face some sort of anxiety or stress in their lives.

It can really be overwhelming and can seriously affect our mood for the rest of the day.

Pushing these feelings of anxiety and stress aside and letting them build up does nothing but cause more harm to our minds and bodies.

Sometimes, we just need a quick and easy way to help alleviate some of this stress to help us get through the day and to help us feel better.

Here are 12 ways to do just that:

1. Practice deep breathing

Mental stress and anxiety can cause your body to respond in physical ways. Since it affects your sympathetic nervous system, you might experience elevated heart rate, shortness of breath, or lightheadedness. Breathing deeply and slowly can help slow your heart and ease your body back into a calm state. When I panic or feel overwhelmed, I breathe in slowly through my nose, think of one thing that makes me happy, slowly breathe out through my mouth, and repeat until I can feel my mind and body begin to calm.

2. Light a candle or start up your essential oil diffuser

My personal favorite scent to soothe my anxiety is lavender. However, you can also try chamomile, rose, orange, jasmine, sandalwood, or whatever else might help you.

3. Exercise

This is a big one, but can also be a very difficult one. Whenever you're feeling extremely anxious or overwhelmed, it might be hard enough for you to get yourself out of bed, let alone do any serious exercising. My best advice is to be proactive and try to pay attention to when you first start feeling your anxiety creep up on you. Just go ahead and get up and go for a walk, run, or whatever form of exercise you prefer!

4. Read a book

For me, there's nothing like curling up with a good book to help calm my nerves. Whenever I am knowingly going into a situation that will make me anxious, such as traveling, I always make sure to bring a book to read whenever I start to feel overwhelmed. Reading helps me to temporarily escape my anxieties and can be a big help in giving myself some much needed time to calm down.

5. Do yoga and practice meditation

Yoga is such a helpful activity for those with anxiety and stress! It kind of is just a combination of many different anxiety-relieving techniques (exercise, deep breathing, and mindfulness). There are many different apps, books, classes, and websites you can use as a guide and help to do yoga. You can find what positions, locations, and situation are best for you. Doing yoga gives you a great opportunity to think about and reflect on your feelings and worries.

6. Spend time with loved ones (yes, even your furbabies)

Sometimes, all we need is a little love and reassurance in our lives to alleviate some of our anxieties. Spending time with your family, friends, and pets can help us to see and remember the good things we have in our lives. So many times, those of us with anxiety tend to seclude ourselves and that makes it easy to forget the good we have.

7. Drink more water

Caffeine is a stimulant and can cause feelings of anxiety. It can make you feel jittery and can be a cause for elevated heart rate. Drinking more water not only helps you physically (like hydrating your skin and body), but it can also do wonders for your mental health. When your body is unhealthy and unhappy, that can be a big factor in feelings of depression and anxiety.

8. Take a short nap

If you begin to feel overwhelmed or anxious, sometimes it can do some good to just take a short 30-minute nap. Just give yourself some time to rest your mind and body and face the issue with a new focus and fresh thoughts.

9. Journal

Even though writing down your feelings, bad or good, can be helpful, when you're feeling anxious or overwhelmed, try focusing on the positive! Write down a few things that made you happy today or a few things that you're grateful for. Don't let yourself be bogged down by the negative.

10. Clean

This might not work for everybody, but I know that sometimes when I'm feeling restless or anxious, cleaning and decluttering can help clear my mind. Basically, it's just good to find something to put your focus on when your anxious thoughts feel like too much. Try to pick a task and focus on that until you're finished. You'll likely find, in the end, that you feel much better than before you started.

11. Listen to happy and soothing music

Listening to music is a BIG help to some people with anxiety. However, you need to be mindful of what you're listening to. Don't put on the breakup playlist you made when you were 13. Find happy or soothing songs and make yourself a playlist of songs with themes of positivity.

12. Don't bottle up your feelings

This might just be the most important advice I can give you when it comes to handling your anxiety. The worst thing that you can do is to suppress your feelings and try to force yourself to forget about them. Hiding or bottling up your feelings might help temporarily, but that will just make you feel worse in the end. Talk to someone or try one of the other methods I mentioned to face your anxiety, but don't pretend like it doesn't exist.

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