Hey Zengarmy,

Before I begin this blog post, 
I'd like to let you know that this is quite a personal thing for me to write.
I'm NOT an attention-seeking whore,
and living with anxiety isn't something fun to write about too.
But I wanted to share this with you as I'm hoping that, 
if you're reading this as an anxiety sufferer, I may help you in some way.
 Alternatively, if you are reading this and you know someone, 
who suffers with anxiety, whether mild or serious. 
I hope I can help you get a better understanding, 
and display ways in which you can show support.

If you had read one of my previous blog post :
you would more or less know that I suffer from minor anxiety.
It's really minor & under control most of the time.
But other anxiety sufferer may not be as lucky as me.

Anxiety is an awful emotion to feel, 
a feeling that cannot be controlled & you are unaware of it creeping up on you. 
Different levels of anxiety lie in all of us all the time. 
From a simple thing like " Oh no, I've got school/work tomorrow ! ",
to something a lot more nerve wracking
like a scary job interview or waiting for your appointment at the dentist. 
( I know I'm not the only one. )

Although anxiety lies in all of us, It affects people in different ways. 
When we're stressed, our anxiety levels are much higher, 
and some of us become a lot more sensitive to it. 
For those of you who are calm, collected and pretty fearless, 
you will have a much lower anxiety threshold. 
( I am envy of those of you who are like this. )

Extremely high levels of anxiety, can, in some people, cause anxiety attacks, 
whether you are aware of your anxiety or not.
I've suffered from mild anxiety for 3 and a half years,
which probably hasn't been brought to anybody's attention yet,
( because I'm such a good secret keeper ? )
and so I'm writing this blog post for those of you, 
who struggle to understand, who feel alone, 
who need advice or need someone else to understand.

It's understandable that not everybody "gets" what anxiety is. 
In fact I'm pretty sure more people don't understand than do, which is really sad. 
Even some of the people closest to me, struggle to understand exactly how it affects me, 
or my life, or some decisions that I choose to make. 
Even after hours of explaining, 
unless someone has been through anxiety themselves, 
they will never truly or fully understand.

What exactly is anxiety ?

A sudden feeling of dread, 
the sudden urge to push your way through to the nearest exit, 
the whole room shrinking down around you, 
and everybody staring at you and smothering you. 

In a split second, 
without you anticipating it, or knowing it's going to happen, 
your body releases adrenaline.
This adrenaline is released as your body is preparing for "flight or fight". 
Something our brain is programmed to do in a life or death situation. 
You need adrenaline for a fight in order to be strong, 
and you need adrenaline for flight, in order to run fast and get away. 
This would have prepared our cave-dwelling ancestors to fight or run away from danger, 
but it’s much less appropriate to the stresses we encounter today. 
Clearly, we are not cavemen any more, and we don't need to hunt for our food, 
but this adrenaline is released in situations like tripping over a step, 
being extremely excited, being on a roller-coaster, being in a fight, In an accident, 
adrenaline is released into our bodies all the time, 
but us anxiety sufferers,

" We are like the cars in the street, 
who's alarm goes off with the smallest gust of wind, 
whereas all the other cars, 
take a good beating before their alarms go off "

and really, that's the best way it can be described in the very simplest of terms.

What happens during anxiety attack ?

Adrenaline is released, 
thus causing your heart to beat faster, and your muscles to tense. 
We breathe in more oxygen, which our muscles use to turn sugar into energy 
(even though we don't need extra energy for anything), 
Blood is diverted to the muscles, making you pale and light headed. 
This also causes you to shake. 
Our digestive system shuts down, making your throat dry and making you feel sick. 
Your senses are heightened, you become more aware of sounds and smells around you 
(It's like someone turned up the volume, and in a busy place, it was loud enough anyway).
When adrenaline floods your body, 
it can cause a number of different physical and emotional sensations, 
that may affect you during anxiety.

These may include:

Very rapid breathing or feeling unable to breathe
Very rapid heartbeat
Pains in your chest
Feeling faint or dizzy
Ringing in your ears
Tingling or numbness in your hands and feet
Hot or cold flushes
Feeling nauseous
Wanting to go to the toilet
Feelings of absolute terror
Feeling smothered
Feeling claustrophobic
Being extremely emotional/uncrontrollable crying
Feelings of unreality, called depersonalisation and derealisation.

Anxiety attacks come on very quickly, symptoms usually peaking within 10 minutes. 
Most anxiety attacks last for between 5 and 20 minutes. 
Some people report attacks lasting for up to an hour, 
but they are likely to be experiencing one attack after another, 
or a high level of anxiety after the initial attack. 
This is what I suffer from, 
If I ever have a anxiety attack, it will NEVER last 20 minutes, 
it will always spiral, until I can be alone, at somewhere I feel comfortable, 
which can sometimes be hours away.
I'm not 100% sure what first triggered my anxiety attacks, 
although I will explain it below. 
The only major downfall for me, 
was that my brain stored this anxiety down in my mind, 
so that when I re-entered a similar situation, 
my body had learnt to react in the same way.

This is the way I like to describe it:

Imagine that your brain is filled with hundreds of filing cabinets, 
full of different information. 
You have memories, things you've learnt ... etc. 
Well, there is a damn cabinet that stores every anxiety attack you have. 
Where you had it, what happened, who you were with, what you were doing, 
what you were eating, what you were drinking, everything. 
When you re-enter the same place, with the same people, or do the same thing, 
that cabinet unlocks, and releases the same adrenaline, and the same emotion. 
My brain thinks it's protecting me, by making me "fight or flight" in the same situation.
Almost as though your brain has trained itself to react in this way. 
Which is annoying, and can be undone. (more on that later)

For me, this happened in crowded places with strangers, 
around new acquaintances and around drunk people.
The main reason is probably because :
I feel insecure with my appearance & gestures in public,
I think I have ugly facial features, and are way too skinny.
And I always think that something terrible is going to happen to me in public.
The reason being that my first major anxiety attack, was in public, 
in the middle of nowhere, which got completely out of hand. 

It was a family outing when I was much more younger.
( probably at the age of 8,9 or something )
And I remember that we were in a huge, crowded shopping mall.
We decided to grab some ice creams. (they come in glass jars)
And then when the ice creams were all ready, they were put on a tray.
And I attempted to carry the tray with the ice creams.
Please bare in mind that, I was 8, 
and I didn't have the strength to carry heavy things.
Then it happened, everything fell off the tray after I attempted to carry the tray !!!

I was in a total shamble,
and everybody around me stared at me. 
(probably more than 50 people because we're in the shopping mall)
I was blushing heavily, so ashamed, and kept crying.
The only thing in my mind is that :
" Those people are going to think that I'm a freak ! "
" Everyone would look at me, and think, what an idiot. "

That pretty much explains why I always try to stay away from people.
It's not like I did this on purpose or what,
it's because I can't stop myself from thinking terrible sad things,
when I'm surrounded by strangers whom I've never met before.
When I was younger, I used to be told off by my mom,
for being "anti-social" & not "masculine" enough.
In peoples' prospective, I'm too quiet & shy sometimes,
and some of them even think that I'm creepy, weird, and a little bit rude too.


Even now, when I think back, 
all those time I tried my hardest to walk into a crowd, 
feeling positive that nothing would go wrong, and end up having to run out. 
I really did try, I tried to put on a brave face and act like nothing would happen, 
& I tried to tell myself it was all in my head,
and nothing was dangerous and as long as you don't think about it, you'll be fine. 
But it's not your choice. 

I don't really think all my friends understood my anxiety.
And in all fairness,
 I guess I didn't really explain as I wasn't sure myself why this kept happening to me. 
They started off inviting me out lots, 
and gradually, I'd just end up saying no for the fear of having an attack, 
until they gave up inviting me all together. 
This upset me, as I felt as though they probably thought I didn't want to be there, 
or maybe they didn't want me there, 
who wants an anxiety sufferer as a massive burden on a fun night out? 
I was missing out, and I hated it because it wasn't anything I could control.

For a while, I couldn't even go to my friends' birthday parties. 
What a boring sod I was. 
I'd also like to point out, this was around the time we all turned into teenagers, 
and started "properly mingling". 
So many things contributed towards my attacks becoming worse. 
I didn't want to end up being severely agoraphobic, 
(in serious cases can mean you are afraid to leave the house) 
so I really did try to force myself, 
which in some very rare cases, didn't ever result in me panicking, 
but then there were always the few incidents where I would feel so much worse, 
and felt as though I'd taken a back step. 

One thing people doesn't seem to realize, 
is that self esteem is seriously dented from suffering anxiety. 
I still, to this day, think that people judge me, 
and that they possibly all talk about how weird I am, 
or how annoying I am for having anxiety, 
or even that they may think you make it up, or are using as an excuse. 
You start to think that you are ruining everyone else's life around you, 
& have become a nuisance.

I'd turn things down ALL THE TIME, but it's not because I didn't want to go, 
I wanted to go more than anything, 
I just COULDN'T put myself in any situation where I felt I may be feeling anxious. 
I'm going to list places I've had anxiety attacks before, 
as I want to express that they won't just happen when you anticipate them, 
but they can literally just spring on you, anywhere...

In bed at night
In a supermarket
In a pub
In a club
In a taxi
On a bus
On a train
At the train station
In a restaurant
At a friend's house
At a family member's house
In a car
On a boat
At school
At work

That's all I can really think of for now, 
but there have been endless places where I've suffered anxiety attack. 
Only when I was at my worst would I walk into a supermarket, 
or go to someone's house and panic. 

More recently, I've been a lot better, 
and I've found that I only get really anxious if I am placed in a situation, 
where I cannot get out easily if I was to ever panic. 
I forced myself to mingle with new people,
and I did, and I was fine. 
I was really proud of myself, 
for not throwing in the towel and missing out on an opportunity, 
and for doing it anyway. 
So many people live in fear of ever having an attack, 
and I think this is what makes life more difficult. 

But sometimes anxiety kicks in very easily.
Even when I was cuddling in my bed,
I would think of terrible sad things like :
" What if my parents died tomorrow & I was left alone ? "
" What if there's a tumor in my brain growing right now ? "
" What if my friends still go and do whatever it was
and just don’t want to hang out with me ? "
" What if a murderer barge into my room & slaughter me ? "
" Why can't I just be normal ? "

One thing a lot of people don't understand, 
is that people who suffer anxiety, DO NOT WANT TO FEEL THIS WAY
We don't want to get on a train and think : 
" I really hope I get to the other end without panicking ", 
we don't want to restrict the way we live because of something we can't control, 
that leaves us feeling mentally and physically drained for days/weeks/months on end. 
We want to be normal, and carry on with our everyday lives without any added anxiety. 
I'd love to be able to say "I don't worry about anything, besides the normal things". 
After a anxiety attack, I feel so upset, but it's mostly anger. 
Angry at myself for not having any control, 
and angry that I don't know how to make it stop. 
Then I feel angry because I feel like nobody understands.

What helps me ?

When I'm actually having a anxiety attack, 
I find the only things that really take the edge off, are going outside, 
walking away from the place I was at, and fanning myself. 
(I know this sounds weird, and probably looks weird, 
but when you have so much adrenaline and your muscles are pumped, 
you should do some form of exercise to use the adrenaline, 
which is why I frantically fan myself, or walk, or knock my knees together, 
or flap my arms around - discreet? I think not) 
Fanning also helps with the horrible hot flushes you'll experience, and cool you down.

Next thing you wanna do,
is to take in slow, deep breathing.
It helps a lot, trust me.

If I'm with someone, I need them to stay quiet unless I ask them something. 
I can't handle anyone talking to me, or trying to distract me, or working me up.
At the time of anxiety attack, 
I don't need someone highlighting the fact I'm anxious, 
by making me saying the alphabet backwards,
or asking me pointless questions, trying to distract me.
It's nice to know someone is with you,  but If I'm having anxiety attack, 
I'm already hearing everything 10x louder and need to try and calm down. 
You also don't have a lot of energy to speak, 
as any energy you do have, is being used everywhere else.
( This explains why after anxiety attack, you'll feel exhausted,
as if you've just finished a 10km marathon or what )

Funnily enough, after 3 and a half years of experiencing anxiety, 
I already had a pretty clear idea about anxiety. 
I have also been reading a few books regarding anxiety.  
I really recommend you guys to have a look online for self-help books, 
some are a load of tosh, but some are quite eye opening. 

If any of you have had any experiences you want to share, please do. 
Not just for me to read, but others reading the comments.

Avoiding Anxiety ...

For many people, the only way they can avoid having anxiety, 
is literally sitting at home and never leaving the house. 
I never want to get this bad, 
but I can see how it would happen very easily with a lot of people. 
My anxiety are a lot worse when I am stressed, or run-down, 
so I find it's really important to give myself a break. 
For many people that means taking time off work or going on holiday. 
I just make sure I get enough sleep, try to be as organised as possible, 
and don't rush anywhere. 

I also tend to listen to relaxing music, 
before I know I need to go somewhere where I may panic. 
A favorite of mine recently has been Daniela Andrade's album.
(Her voice, I appreciate, could have an adverse affect on some people,
but i find it keeps me calm because there are no fast beats or shouty bits) 
So find something that relaxes your mind instantly.

I also think it's important to write down how you are feeling, 
if you feel like you are about to get anxious. 
Once when I was in my bed, I started having anxiety attack, 
so I whacked out my phone and started frantically writing how I felt, 
and every time something changed mentally or physically, I'd write it. 
This weirdly, calmed me down a lot quicker. 
I don't know if this is because it distracted me, 
or because it made everything slightly more logical.

I think everyone will have their own individual ways, 
of avoiding and banishing anxiety attacks, 
it's really whatever works best for you, 
but I think "Taking it easy" really is the best advice I can give. 
You don't want to overwork your heart, as this may bring on anxiety.

How can I help someone
who suffers Anxiety ?

I'm going to do a little section here, 
on how to help someone who is having anxiety, 
or someone who suffers them quite a lot,
in the hope some of you will show this to your partners/friends/family, 
and then they can feel a little more at ease about how to help you. 
Although it sucks having anxiety, 
I can't imagine standing next to someone feeling helpless makes me feel very nice either.

1. Remain calm. 
There is nothing worse than being with someone who is freaking out whilst they are, 
they will never calm down if you are flapping about like a headless chicken.

2. Do not be forceful. 
Be patient, and accepting. 
Do not settle for them feeling anxious alone and being affected alone.

3. Let them do things at their own pace.

4. Don't make assumptions about what the panicker needs, ask them.

5. Find something positive in every experience. 
If the affected person is only able to go partway to a particular goal, 
such as the cinema or out for a coffee, 
consider that an achievement rather than a failure.

6. Remember that they don't choose to be this way. 
Do not show any disappointment or annoyance when anxiety strikes, 
or if they don't feel they can't do something.

7. In anxiety attack, DON'T say :
" Relax. Calm down. Don't be anxious. 
Let's see if you can do this. (i.e., setting up a test for the affected person). 
You can fight this. What should we do next? Don't be ridiculous. You have to stay. 
Don't be a coward. Pull yourself together. Stop being silly. What's wrong with you ? ".

Instead, DO SAY :
" You can do it no matter how you feel. I am proud of you. 
Tell me what you need now. Breathe slow and low. Stay in the present. 
It's not the place that's bothering you, it's the thought. 
I know that what you are feeling is painful, but it's not dangerous. You are courageous. "
* Remember that anxiety attacks only last a maximum of 20 minutes *

8. Do not try to distract them with stupid questions. 
As I said before, we don't want to say the alphabet backwards or talk about our day, 
it just highlights the fact that we are having anxiety attack, thus creating more panic.

9. Be supportive & reassuring. 
After anxiety attack,
 the person can feel down, depressed, angry, insecure and with very low self esteem. 
It's your job to help them to feel better about themselves, 
and to let them know that you are there by their side.

I really hope I have managed to cover everything, 
and I hope this has helped some of you. 
If you're reading this, and you really feel down and depressed about your anxiety, 
and the way it has affected your life, please remember...
You are not alone, anxiety is VERY common, 
and although terrifying, will not kill you. 
Don't let your anxiety ruin your confidence or dent your self esteem, 
you are an amazing person, and you CAN stop them, 
with the right treatment and techniques. 
Do not force yourself to go somewhere you don't feel comfortable, 
you and your health are far more important than keeping someone else happy. 
If someone close to you fails to understand, 
it can leave you feeling terribly alone and insecure, 
FORCE them to read this blog post, and tell them : 
I'll kick their bottom if they don't LISTEN and show as much support as possible.

That's all from me. 
Please share experiences and leave comments below, 
it won't just help me, but will also help others just like you reading this blog post.



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