There is no handbook for how to deal with anxiety as everyone’s experiences are different. When I was first diagnosed I knew I felt nervous, restless, uneasy and occasionally panicky, but there are other symptoms both mental and physical that have surprised me along the way.
Sadness is something that comes hand-in-hand with anxiety, due to the chemical imbalances in your brain which can feel you leaving hopeless and lacking in motivation. However it is so much more than that. I have experienced a lot of anger and confusion as to why this is happening to me. I have felt complete loneliness even surrounded by people who love me. Feelings of frustration of not being able to control how I feel. It is very naive for people to think anxiety is just feeling worried and sad. Be prepared for an array of different emotions to be experienced.
Over-thinking and paranoia. This is something I really struggle with still and it hasn’t been helped by my past relationships with both friends and boyfriends. If I text somebody and they don’t text me back within a few hours I feel like I have done something to offend them and my mind starts racing as to what I have done. If I get one less ‘kiss’ on the end of a text than normal I feel the same way. It’s more than just impatience of them not getting back to me, it’s a bolt of fear that shoots through my chest and I start thinking of the worst scenarios.
I check, double check and triple check things far more than I need to as I worry something awful will happen, and checking once isn’t enough to convince myself it won’t happen. Examples are checking the hob is switched off so I don’t burn down the house, switching off wall plugs so an electrical fire doesn’t start and checking my alarm clock about ten times before going to bed so I am not late for work.
You feel like your brain never stops which can be exhausting. I dwell on past events and worry about future events. Living in the present is harder than it sounds for an anxiety sufferer.
There are many physical symptoms which come with anxiety and I have experienced a huge range of them in nearly ten years: shaking, fidgeting, nausea, vomiting, heart palpitations, exhaustion, sweating, hyperventilating, tense muscles, headaches.
I have picked up a few habits along my way which sometimes I don’t even notice myself doing. These have come and gone over the years but right now I am struggling with chewing the inside of my mouth and picking the skin around my fingernails. Both are painful and I try not to do them but when I am thinking about something triggering I don’t even notice I am doing it!
I fidget constantly when awake. At my work desk where I sit for eight hours my legs never stop moving. In bed when I am trying to fall asleep I rub my feet together for comfort. This another factor that increases my feeling of fatigue as both my mind and body just don’t want to stop.
Sleep is one of my favourite things and I try to get at least eight hours a night to feel alive the next morning. Some anxiety sufferers suffer with insomnia, some can fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow. I have gone through stages of both of these and at the moment I fall asleep at the drop of a hat. There are methods out there to help with sleep so please do ask for advice or help!
I haven’t written this post to alarm or worry anyone, it is simply to show that not everything is mental with anxiety. After nearly ten years of suffering it has only been recently that I have realised these physical symptoms I suffer have actually been a side effect of anxiety, not me imagining them. If you are an anxiety sufferer you may experience these, you may not. Please remember everyone’s experiences of mental health are different.