What People Don't Tell You About Growing Up With Anxiety

What People Don't Tell You About Growing Up With Anxiety

Calm was a foreign concept to me.

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Anxiety is difficult to deal with no matter what age you are, but there are certain things that are different based on when you first experience it. People who first experience anxiety as adults have had time to form their personality and to experience many aspects of life. While this does not lessen the impact of that anxiety on them, they know who they are already and that is something that they can use to ground themselves. Developing anxiety as a child or teen runs much deeper into the personality of a person than developing it as an adult does.

There are habits that you develop as a side effect of the anxiety. Like holding an apple core for the entirety of an hour class because you don't want to draw attention to yourself by getting up to throw it out; or constantly needing reassurance from other people because you don't trust yourself anymore--not after your anxiety tricked you into thinking something was wrong all those times. I will ask someone five or more times if I look okay before leaving the house sometimes because my anxiety used to tell me that nothing looked good on me and I've gotten into the habit of asking. Confrontation is terrifying because it might end in a fight or with someone no longer liking me; this isn't because I am a self-centered person who needs everyone to love them, it's because I won't be able to sleep knowing that I was the catalyst in a fight. Nothing is simple; every action, conversation, and idea is thought through a million times over before it occurs; growing up with anxiety forced me to evaluate my every move.

You miss a lot of things if you grow up with anxiety and/or panic attacks. This is by no means anyone's fault, but is still something that I think about almost everyday. My anxiety was at it's peak sophomore and junior year of high school; a prime time in the life of a teenage girl. And it controlled a lot of my life even if it didn't seem like it to the outside world; I said no to plans a lot because I was afraid I would have a panic attack while I was out. I claimed I was busy, which I was, but not in the way I'm sure my friends imagined. I didn't really come into myself as a person until my senior year of high school and well, now, my freshman year of college. My mind had been so focused on the anxiety and just getting through it, that I did not have the chance to develop into a true person. I was there physically, but mentally it felt like I was completely out of control; when I thought of who I was, the first thing that came to mind was anxiety.

While things such as having difficulty telling the waiter that my order is wrong or not raising my hand in class are sometimes annoying to deal with, the hardest part of growing up with anxiety was when I finally started to feel better and less anxious. Calm was a foreign concept to me. Feeling "normal" or not anxious was alien to me; I had not experienced life without anxiety in a long time and it was a hard adjustment to make. Anxiety and panic attacks had left me on edge, so when I started taking medication that left me mostly free of them, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. My body did not know what to do now that it was not in panic mode; I slept a lot for the first few days of taking meds because I was adjusting and finally able to relax. It was the most calming and simultaneously unnerving time of my life.

Growing up with anxiety, you are almost always in survival mode. The goal is to survive each panic attack and anxious moment and then hold your breath until the next one. Your brain is constantly on high alert and looking for the next threat whether it be real or imagined. Learning to come out of survival mode and to just live instead has been one of the most difficult parts of dealing with my anxiety. You have to reteach yourself how to relax and that it's okay to have a moment where your brain is not occupied--it no longer needs to be distracted in order to remain un-anxious.

The thing about growing up anxious is that you never had time to figure out who you were before you were anxious. When people say they have "recovered" from a mental illness, it is often interpreted as meaning that they have returned back to the person they were before they had developed said mental illness. For people who had a mental illness as a child, recovery involves inventing yourself completely because there is nothing to go back to. Growing up with anxiety has left me with side effects that I am still working to get rid of, but it also has made me who I am.

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I Asked Hundreds Of People How They Cope With Anxiety And Depression, Here's What They Had In Common

Old, new, and out of the blue. This is what everyday people do to cope with their anxiety and depression.

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Anxiety and depression can ruin some of the best days of your life, or every day in general. When I reached out to social media, I got some of the best advice I've ever received. Maybe it's so great because it's not coming from a therapist, the internet, or a figure of authority that I may feel doesn't "understand" what people with mental health issues go through.

These responses were raw, real, and used on a daily basis by people ranging from 16-28 years of age. I took their answers and made them into more broad responses, and this is what they said.

1. Nature Walks 

Sometimes all it takes is a walk through the woods to help you see life clearly. Anxiety and depression among many other mental illnesses are caused by things that happen in hectic everyday life situations. If you separate yourself from society, it can do wonders.

2. Delete all social media for a week

Among many other things, this would help you stop setting social media standards for yourself and your life. The standards set by social media cause worry, insecurity, and at times insanity.

3. Find something you look forward to after a 10/12 hour work day

When it feels like you are working your life away, it can get depressing and maybe even make you a little anxious. If there is something other than work to look forward to in your life, it could give new meaning to waking up every day. Finding hobbies isn't always easy, but even if you don't seem fit for any particular hobbies there is no bad place to start.

4. Learn how to breathe/count your breath 

This is simple and one of the best tricks in the book.

5. Reading

Reading can take your mind off things for quite some time, especially if you pick up a good motivational/ self help book. By reading, your mind is engaged in another reality rather than what is going on in the outside world. Other than being a distraction books can help you learn about anything you could possibly think of.

6. Don't be scared to let it out, someone will listen 

Finding a good friend that you can trust with your mental health issues is important. Often people are afraid to talk to someone. They are scared that they will not understand or they will dismiss their emotions. This is where having a good friend or finding a good friend comes in handy. This is also one of the benefits of social media, you can connect with people going through the same things you are. Be sure to utilize that.

7. Keep busy

If you don't give your mind time to wonder, often it will just stay focused on the task at hand.

8. Weight lifting 

When I was younger this was especially helpful for me to do. Weight lifting gives you a hard physical task and can possibly distract your mind from whatever is bothering you. By working out you are bettering yourself physically and mentally. You are building mental strength by pushing yourself to continue a workout, which in turn can help you combat your mental health in the future.

9. Tending to plants after work or just sitting in peace with them

Growing up, my Papa had a garden. We took care of it, admired it, sat in the middle of it and ate strawberries until we were sick. Having a garden is a goal of mine and that is only one of the hundreds of reasons why. Being able to come home from school or work, take care of something that is living and that is yours, and admiring all the hard work and beauty that comes out of it is priceless. Aside from being priceless, it can also provide a distraction or a calm setting to spend time in.

10. Listen to music

Listening to music and even playing music can be such a positive gateway. Music activates things in your mind that other activities don't touch.

11. Writing 

Writing is something that I've always used as a stress reliever. As much as you may have hated writing in high school or college, you won't know if it helps to do it willingly until you try it. When I write, everything else around me disappears. I get to sit down, focus my thoughts on one thing, and write whatever I want. I can display every emotion, good and bad that I feel.

12. CBD oil or other CBD products 

The proof is in the science.

13. Medication

If you are thinking about getting medicated I want you to know there is no shame in that. We have to stop treating mental illness like it's not a serious problem in society. It is, people do need real help, and it is a real thing.

14. Therapy

Just like I said for medication, it's nothing to be embarrassed about. At one time or another, everyone I know has been to some kind of therapy.

15. Yoga

Although I've never been able to be dedicated to yoga, I know it works wonders for my peers. You can find yoga tutorials on YouTube and videos for beginners or experts. Yoga goes hand in hand with meditation, and you can find that on YouTube as well.

16. Validate your own feelings 

It's important to stay away from a cycle of thinking you are overreacting because that's what social media and society say. It's OK to be sad or hurt from something, as long as you don't let it consume your entire life. If it begins to do so, reaching out for help isn't a bad idea. Neither is searching for new coping techniques.

17. Grounding, or counting all objects near you 

This is a good way to bring your mind back to what's happening in the now, instead of letting your mind wonder to the future or the past.

18. Walking your dog/getting a dog

Aside from dogs, people said they spend time with their horses and cattle too. Having an emotional support pet was one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me. My dog isn't registered as an emotional support dog, but he's become that and more. Getting your pet registered means that you can take them into public places where other animals that aren't registered are not allowed, which is what I personally recommend.

19. Simple distractions

Watching a movie or hanging out with friends can distract your mind from the bad when it starts to take over. If you catch it in an early stage and decide to go hangout with friends instead of letting it grow and fester, it could save your day.

I'm no expert, but if you know a friend with anxiety or depression some of these techniques may be something they've never tried or heard of. You may have friends that you have known your entire life, yet you have no idea that they possess a mental illness. Be nice to your peers, friends, and family. You never know what they are going through.

Editor's note: The views expressed in this article are not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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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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