Posted in Anxiety and panic attacks

Anxiety is the pits!

Over the years I have had people say they feel a sense of calm around me or that I portray being calm. Often that statement has surprised me given how much I’ve battled with anxiety due to high levels of stress. It makes sense that people wouldn’t see what’s going on inside me as I have learnt how to interact with others regardless of any internal situation I might be feeling at any given moment.

There was a time in which worry and anxiety interfered on a daily basis. At times when it was really bad I struggled to leave the house for fear of having a panic attack. I was anxious about what was going to happen to me when I was away from the comfort of my home. Home was the place that I retreated to and built as my safe place. Time and again when I was out running errands or buying groceries, anxiety was my shopping companion. Anxiety liked to dictate how I was going to feel whilst walking through the busy shopping mall. On very bad days when anxiety was waiting to pounce I would get my shopping done quick smart so as I could get out of crowded places. I often felt as though people around me could see my struggle as it was so strong, powerful and scary. On many occasions I felt as though I was going to collapse when waiting in a queue. It felt hard to breathe which then resulted in feeling dizzy and shaky. The fear of making a scene in front of other shoppers almost made the anxiety worse. I knew that if I could get myself home then eventually the anxiety would settle and I would be safe again.

Anxiety really is the pits!!!

The battle with anxiety started after a very intense season of stressful circumstances when I was in my mid-twenties. I had gone through stressful events many times over previously however anxiety only really hit me later. I don’t think our bodies are made to cope with too much stress on a regular basis. We often hear about good stress and bad stress. The good stress gets us motivated to get things done however the bad stress sends us into a flight or fight mode. It is inbuilt so as we can respond to dangerous and threatening situations immediately. For example this inbuilt flight/fight switch would go off if you were walking across the road and suddenly a car came towards you out of nowhere. Your body would get you responding as quickly as possible to get you out of the way to prevent serious harm.

The truth is that most situations are not dangerous (such as myself walking through a crowded shopping mall) yet panic attacks happen as a result of the inbuilt flight or fight switch that triggers off at the wrong times. So your body kicks in with adrenaline telling it to start fighting or running away. This is when you feel all sorts of different symptoms in your body, from tingling shaky hands to difficulty breathing. It is like a surge or a rush of intense panic.  As you stand there experiencing all of these symptoms in your body knowing full where that  there is no real dangerous situation you then feel as though you are going to die as why else would you feel like this? In books panic attacks are often described as a feeling impending doom!

panic-attacks

How do we avoid the bad stress which causes so much anxiety?

It took me years to figure out the cause of a lot of my stress despite the fact that it should have been obvious. One of the biggest issues that I had was keeping emotions bottled up. I didn’t find it easy to talk about them. These bottled up emotions were usually a result of an argument with my ex. I wasn’t aware how much unhealthy interactions were affecting me as it was usually on a subconscious level. Consciously I was aware that we were having serious issues which I was always trying to resolve with my ex and in the back of my mind I wondered why the (resolving part) often made me feel worse.

Most people know that relationships have arguments and tension. This is normal!!! Little did I understand that what is normal was not my normal? What I was experiencing was very different. It was so subtle and difficult to recognise which made it impossible for me to truly understand. This is where the topic of emotional abuse is introduced for the first time on my blog page.

It isn’t easy to write about emotional abuse for fear of being seen as the bad person. People that have been emotionally abused would understand this issue, the issue of always blaming oneself for everything. In the relationship it was all too easy for me to continue believing that it was always my fault when things went wrong. That if I would just try hard enough things would be better. That perhaps if I wasn’t so sensitive to how I was being treated then things would be ok. That I should just keep quiet and leave things as they are. The trouble was that keeping things quiet may have caused fewer waves for a time yet it produced anxiety.

Anxiety was always present.

When we are in a relationship with someone who is unstable emotionally and creates crazy circumstances to live through it can result in anxiety together with depression. All of your senses are heightened and at a level that is not healthy. You may see things with your eyes or feel things that are wrong yet your trapped in the situation believing it’s your entire fault.

When we hear about domestic violence everyone knows that the person doing the hitting is the bad person. In more subtle forms of abuse such as emotional manipulation the true culprit hides behind lies and games. It isn’t visible or tangible physically which makes it so hard to see clearly. The abuser leaves you feeling as though the problem is YOU. They don’t take responsibility for their actions. They don’t feel your pain. It is always about them winning and gaining control and power.

While I am no longer in that relationship, thank heavens, I’m working on myself with the help of a counsellor to bring the heightened anxiety level right back down. This will take time of course considering how many years I lived in that state of threat. I suppose this blog is not so much about all of the details on emotional abuse but rather a thought provoking piece to help others recognise what areas of their lives might be causing the bad type of stress that can lead to excessive anxiety.

Feel free to add any comments about your experience with anxiety.

 

Posted in Healthy verses unhealthy

You might want to sit down for this…

Have you ever watched a movie and a scene plays out in which the phrase “you might want to sit down for this one” grabs your attention? It’s one of those typical scenes I have been fortunate enough to avoid so far in my life up until this week. This week highlights for me the first experience of sitting down hesitantly in my lounge room with two of my most favourite people as they struggle to come to terms with how they are going to tell me some news which would put me in shock for the next few days. With shock has been incredible anger that I can’t put into words. So much anger that I felt bad at the amount of swear words that have actually left my mouth and occupied my mind. The news hurt severely and still hurts.

On the previous night call it what you will I had an inkling that something was going to be told to me the next day. So on the way to taking my son to school and on my way back home I prepared myself with my most favourite Hillsong music blasting flat out in my car. My stomach was churning slightly with my heart doing random beats out of whack. While I was somewhat prepared the news landed heavy on my heart. In some ways the news should not have been such a surprise as I suspected something of this nature to be going on. In fact I suspected it long before I had to leave Brisbane and come to Canberra.

How often do we put aside suspicions and inklings only to talk our way out of them as we don’t really want to believe the truth?

Tuesday this week I heard the truth. The truth hurt more than I can imagine. If it hasn’t been enough to deal with the grief of a 27 year marriage breakdown this news took me into a place of anger and betrayal. They say anger is normal in these types of situations and I believe that. No matter how normal it may be to feel such anger it is not pleasant.  It is consuming for a little while. In my case it has been two full days and nights. I can feel it slowing moving away which is a welcome feeling. It more likely will return here and there such as the feelings of sadness over all the lost hopes and dreams two young people once held.

This could have been one of those moments in which I might have made my way into the bedroom, drawn the curtains and stayed in bed under my blankets for a week. I didn’t do that!!! As tempting as it was I decided to get up the next morning for the sake of my son to get him to school.

When I stop for a moment and look back to the past four months I’m amazed how this person (me) has even gotten this far? Had these events taken place as close as two years ago I’m not all that sure I would have handled it. Through the years I have grown and developed my own sense of value. As a young person I didn’t own it. As I have mentioned in many of my earlier blogs I struggled with low self-esteem and self-hatred. There was nothing that I liked about myself.

Having had such issues drove me into the arms of another broken person. Despite the fact that the marriage is well and truly over I can take courage of the changes that have happened deep inside of me. The shy young girl who hated herself grew up and let go of the hurts that kept her stuck in a prison. These issues got me into hurtful situations. I had no confidence to speak my own mind. It was as though someone had sealed my mouth shut. To speak my mind created anxiety and fear. Fear of rejection.

If there is one piece of advice I could give to anyone who is looking to marry please make sure that you are not so badly broken that you settle for someone who may cause you emotional harm. It is crucial that you know your own true value and worth. As not every relationship issue is a normal one. Some relationship issues are psychologically or emotionally damaging.  If you are in a relationship and question yourself on a regular basis I would seek some help and advice for that. It is not normal to constantly question yourself or your relationship. If you find yourself being blamed all too often again I would say check that. If you feel as though you are sitting on a roller coaster in your relationship take that as another warning sign. Let me describe the roller coaster a little better. This relationship roller coaster has moments of incredible highs. It’s as though you are led to believe the most incredible things are going to take place, incredible such as amazing financial success. That once this financial success takes place life will be amazing, your marriage will be amazing!!! However the reality is that the highs of the roller coaster shifts downward and you are faced with financial failure. Finances are just one example it could be something else or multiple areas which are keeping you believing that this relationship is worth staying in. In other words you hold onto a false sense of hope.

You may begin seeing contradictions yet you’ve been led to believe for such a long time that something amazing is going to happen which convinces you to continue sitting on the roller coaster. Just a little while longer and things will change you repeat to yourself. Just a little while longer and everything will be more stable. Just a little while longer and I may be happy like others seem to be. Just a little while longer and I may be valued and cared for. Just a little while longer I might be good enough to be heard.

If you find yourself constantly having to comply to keep the peace something isn’t right. A relationship which is healthy works from a foundation of respect, trust and honesty to say the least. It is not supposed to be one of control. That one partner has the power to hold you captive so much that your own voice is stopped. Your voice or your thoughts should be important. You should be able to approach your significant other with confidence not anxiety. If you are experiencing a lot of anxiety in a relationship seek good advice.

No one deserves to be in a relationship to be broken down and damaged. Sometimes it can take years to recognise particularly if you struggle to know your own worth and value. When we de-value ourselves we can enable people close to us to continue behaving in hurtful ways. Once we recognise our worth and value we have the ability to keep healthy boundaries with others ensuring healthy interactions.

The longer you sweep things under the carpet so to speak the more damage is done. Find a trusted person to talk to if you struggle with something beyond a normal relationship issue. Trust your instincts. Be aware of what your body and emotions are telling you. It’s easy to ignore the obvious as denial is often a comfortable option rather than facing something painful.

Life can hurt so I’m keeping it real…..