Living with Anxiety

I’ll never forget my first panic attack. I didn’t know it was a panic attack because I’d never had one before. I was at the hairdressers sitting in the chair and the girl had just put the bib around my throat. It’s all I could feel, like I was choking. My heart rate soared, faster and faster so fast I began to hyperventilate. I’d never taken notice of my heart before until the anxiety began. I excused myself and ran off to the toilet. I was hot, clammy and dizzy, I felt completely overwhelmed but I didn’t understand why? I didn’t want to go back out there, how could I get out of this cut and color I knew it would take at least three hours? I sat back down and suffered through was seemed like an eternity of guzzling down water and checking my phone to side track myself . I had my hair colored and told the hairdresser I had changed my mind about the cut and not to bother blow drying it as I preferred it left. I got out of there quick smart.

When I got home I was absolutely exhausted as if I’d run a marathon. The next morning I felt like I’d been on an all night drinking session with a massive hangover. Welcome to anxiety!!!

My mental condition started as I became ill with Hyperthyroid and Graves Disease. It is one of the main symptoms of the disease but I didn’t know what was happening to me as I didn’t know I was sick. I knew something was wrong but it’s a sneaky disease, it tricks your own mind. I’m a very open book and close to my family but i got to a stage where I hid what was happening to me from them. I was confused. I recognised my symptoms as a mental illness but I was trying to resolve it myself, I had no idea I was chronically ill. In this instance I can’t be angry at my anxiety. The anxiety was a warning signal to myself that something was not right within my own body. It was literally tapping me on the shoulder yelling “You are sick”! I ignored what i knew as I was tricked into a vicious cycle of events. I was feeling fine one day, knocked out the next and up again.

I sometimes think these days the word ‘anxiety’ is thrown around out of context. People talk of their anxiety relating to a busy time or money related issues and day to day pressure that we all face. It wasn’t until my illness that I realized a completely different type of anxiety. An anxiety disorder, living with anxiety on a day to day basis, having physical symptoms so debilitating they are life and lifestyle changing. That to me is anxiety. Perhaps it’s what we label a ‘Mental Illness’ or as I’d like to say a ‘Mental Condition’.

Mental conditions can be on set from or triggered by so many different means. They can stem from illness, traumatic life events, depression, genetics, general ongoing life stresses, isolation, in fact probably more causes than we know. The natural disasters such as bush fires and now the latest global Coronavirus (https://groundedlife.net/2020/03/11/coronavirus-against-world-11-ways-to-prevent-contamination/) pandemic are all risk factors for pushing humans to our limits creating anxiety and panic.

Humans are resilient and bounce back but stressful events can eventually take a toll and push beyond this boundary.

There has been record of mental illness in primitive times when people believed that mental illness was created by evil spirits taking over the body.

Back in the 1900’s if someone showed sign of any psychosis they would be locked up in a mental institution, treated with electro shock therapy and artificial fever therapy or diagnosed with schizophrenia.

IMAGE CREDIT: UNIVERSITY OF LIVERPOOL FACULTY OF HEALTH & LIFE SCIENCES

Mental Illness has been around forever, it is only today we are starting to understand, acknowledge and pay attention to this crippling, silent disease affecting all of us. More and more voices are coming forward and slowly this stigma is being accepted and the conversation is not being avoided or quickly shut down in the community.

Once I was diagnosed for my physical illness and medicated appropriately, the anxiety slowly started to ease. I have had to change to a healthy diet, practice forms of meditation and find specific techniques that work for me. We are all individual and respond differently to everything. I did an online course through Sydney University on Psychiatry and Mental Illness to gain a greater understanding on what was happening to me and how I could manage myself better.

There are many online resources to give you more information and guide you on your journey to live a flourishing life with mental conditions. 😀

https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/

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