“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
― Corrie ten Boom
Anxiety is a broad term with so many different types that fall within it. I want to spend more time looking at each type in more depth but for now thought I’d write a little about each of them. For me anxiety is fear; of the future and the unknown. It can pop up out of nowhere and you can carry it around with you all throughout the day and night. It can be a powerful wave that keeps knocking you down with panic. A series of small yet relentless waves that just won’t give you a moments peace. Or it can be like a strong rip tide that you are unable to find a way out of. Your head is full of swirling worries that kept you from reaching the safety of the shore.
They can come whenever they want. No time can be safe and even in the dead of the night, when you think your body would be in a deep restful slumber you can wake up mid-attack. Waking up in the dark with a thumping heart and confusion can be one of the most frightening experiences. Seemingly out of nowhere a panic attack can build from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds. Before you know if you’re shaking, sweating, unable to catch your breath and in a state of confusion of how this all happened and what it means.
A sense of being on edge, not feeling ‘quite right.’ It’s difficult to pin point where it comes from or what it is all about.It’s an unclear sense that your body and mind just aren’t at ease. Something is brewing and it’s brewing in the background all day.
You could be having conversations with people, even appearing happy and no-one would have a clue what was going on for you, that you are living with a daily feeling of terror and/or dread. It can make you snappy and seem very irritable, you already feel full, overwhelmed and even the simplest of questions can seem too much. Other people can be too much, everything can feel too much.
A headache is meningitis, or a brain tumour. A stomach ache could be cancer. Your body is on high alert constantly scanning itself and sending distress signals back to the brain letting it know something isn’t right. Something is definitely wrong, it has to be. Why else would you be feeling so bad?
Noticing something in your body and your mind races to the worst possible conclusion. You more than likely either google or ask people around you for reassurance. Visiting the doctor and asking for all kinds of health checks or deliberately avoid going through fear of finding out something is wrong. Either way even getting an all clear diagnosis doesn’t take away the worries you have.
Obsessional Compulsive Disorder
There are many different types of OCD. Some involve counting, checking, cleaning or hoarding and other types are intrusive thoughts with no outward compulsions. It is essential for tasks to be completed in a certain manner. Things don’t feel clean enough and the worry of contamination or germs can be so overwhelming you could end up cleaning for several hours each day. There may be a compulsion to repeatedly check doors and windows are secure. Certain rituals may need to be carried out to make sure people will be safe, sometimes including yourself and your loved ones.
The thought side of OCD can leave you in a constant merry-go-round of trying to prove something right or wrong. Do I love this person? Could I be gay? Could I be capable of hurting someone? The thoughts can be truly terrifying and so believable that you might actually start avoiding certain people, places or objects to try and ensure you won’t carry out these obtrusive thoughts.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety can begin to build as soon as an event is mentioned or an invitation arrives. Focus is given to thoughts of all of the things that could go wrong, what people might think about you and what you could do or say wrong. In the past you may have enjoyed being around other people but this is not the case anymore. It can feel exhausting and you may hide yourself away because it’s just all too much. If you make it out to a social event you might feel so highly over stimulated that you are completely unable from being present and you are “just trying to get through it.”
It can be a feeling of relief when the event is over, you get to go home, back to comfort and safety.
After seeing people you get caught in a cycle of questioning how things went. You end up going over what happened and how you think you were perceived. Being around other people or in certain places and situations just feels too much, it can feel impossible.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Witnessing or experiencing a terrifying and/or life threatening event that has shocked your whole being. After the event your body is stuck. Nightmares and flashbacks can cause the experience to be re-lived over and over again. Sleep difficulties, feelings of detachment, dissociation and estrangement severely impact daily life.
You can experience 3 different kinds of symptoms;
reliving the trauma
avoidance; of certain places and/or people that remind you of the trauma
irritability; being startled easily and feeling on guard.
Maybe you don’t ‘fit’ into one specific type of anxiety, perhaps you have a mixture or some parts of one.
Mental health doesn’t always slot into a neat and tidy box.
That is why I work with you and not your diagnosis.
The reasons for your anxiety will be unique to you, as will what helps you to feel less anxious.