No My Anxiety Is Not An Exaggeration

No, My Anxiety Is Not An Exaggeration

Today is the day to talk openly and honestly about my experiences with anxiety as well as the growing anxiety epidemic in the United States.

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I can't tell you exactly how, when, or what led me to hypothesize that I may suffer from anxiety, all I know is I was aware of something being "off" based on my mental and physical reactions to certain external situations. My body would respond to situations (many of which were social and required presenting a topic or talking with new peers) in a "grotesque" way, the thoughts in my mind would race at a mile a minute, my legs began to feel wobbly as my chest tightened and my hands grew damp from sweat. Each symptom I experienced impeded me from actively partaking in basic social interactions bestowed upon me and even led to me hyperactively avoiding such situations. I profoundly remember one such instance in high school, a repeated instance that took me months to "conquer"; it occurred in the same place, at the same time, 5 days a week... the cafeteria at my high school during my sophomore year.

Every school day, during my lunch hour I would sit with my closest friends as we gushed about our days and plans for the weekend.

All of which I was more than capable and rather excited to handle. However, as lunch came to a close, a daunting task appeared and called on me to come face to face with it... throwing my trash away. Now I know you're probably confused or perhaps even stifling a giggle now, because how can getting up to throw trash away possibly cause someone so much stress that their hands get clammy?

The truth is, until recently I didn't have an explicit or reliable reason behind it, all I knew was I had to force one of my friends to go to the trash with me every day because my mind convinced me that I "threw trash away wrong", "walked weird", or "someone will approach me if I'm alone and say something to me to which I won't be able to respond".

My mind was clouded with these thoughts and they seem paralyzed me from completing a simple task without an added crutch. After this instance and many more instances that left my body shaking and filled my eyes with tears, I began thinking that something was seriously wrong with me- by the looks of it no one else around me experienced the same things that I did so it must not be healthy.

Even though I recognized these discrepancies in my mental health, I didn't truly act upon this knowledge until recently during the beginning of my spring semester of freshman year.

While in high school, I routinely pushed my mental health to the side, arguing that my mental health was fine and I was exaggerating the situation. I blame this partly to myself, I always want to come off as someone who is a put-together day in and day out, but also partly to those around me, namely my school system who never once discussed mental health with us (an age group where many began to become diagnosed with various mental illnesses). Upon reaching college, my mental health was pushed to the foreground and I quickly found myself seeking treatment: first, in the comfort of my dorm room in the shape of breathing and grounding exercises, then in the comfort of my friends who allowed me to cry to them about anything and everything, and finally in the form of an actual therapy group that meets once a week.

Up until I joined my therapy group, I never truly believed that what I was feeling would be heard or understood, rather they would be quickly sympathized with before being shoved to the side in order to spare someone else's emotions Up until I joined my therapy group, I led myself to believe that my anxiety was an exaggeration and I was making something out of nothing. Up until I joined my therapy group, I never set aside time to check in with myself mentally in the way I do when I check my physicality. Up until I joined my therapy group, I believed I would have to suffer in silence.

My battle with anxiety has been one that has lasted many years and likely won't stop soon, however, I am not afraid to admit that fact. After struggling for many years and trying my hardest to bottle my emotions as well as any other evidence of anxiety, I have finally come to terms with my diagnosis and have realized there is truth in the statement "it's ok to not be ok". This realization has garnered me more confidence in myself and has led me to be more willing to speak openly and honestly about my mental health as well as those around me who suffer from the same problems.

To those who remain unconvinced, my anxiety is, never was nor will be an exaggeration and I urge you to find that understanding somewhere inside you.

One of my biggest barriers as a result of my anxiety is constantly overthinking every word, every action, etc made by those around me and often misjudging them to be done out of anger, frustration or annoyance. By having more people that understand or strive to understand what I suffer from, I not only create a larger team of supporters, but I also am able to avoid awkward situations that involve being repeatedly asking the other individual what I did wrong before constantly apologizing for what I did and for my mental health always getting in the way of normal situations.

To those who remain unconvinced, I ask that you please keep harsh and judgmental comments to yourself. I have placed enough of those on myself to last me at least three lifetimes and I truly don't need any more from anyone. I ask that if you have comments that want to minimize my sufferings or involve any negative comments about my anxiety, so please keep them to yourself and share them with no one else but your mind. Hearing these hurtful comments not only pushes me back in my fight to reach a point of 100% acceptance of my mental health but also reverts me to the girl that suffered alone through the majority of high school- a place I never want to be again

To those who remain unconvinced, too bad. I know the severity and seriousness of my mental health and I have taken the steps needed to better it. I don't need your approval for it and I will continue to treat myself and bring light to every type of mental illness out there.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

From an outside perspective, suicidal thoughts are rarely looked into deeper than the surface level. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is that people live in between those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead.

You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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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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