So this week, I interviewed a friend who suffers from anxiety, in the hope that I could understand the condition more and this article would hopefully help people who suffer from anxiety or think they might.
Q. What is anxiety?
Well, there are loads of types but I seem to suffer from generalized anxiety and social anxiety. So basically it can be really hard to put yourself out there when you meet new people, and sometimes you’ll be around your friends who love you so much yet still doubting whether they actually care about you. Sometimes walking from one end of a street to another can be the scariest thing ever because you worry about what people will think when they see you, think everyone might be laughing at you and generally this just makes you so nervous. The thought of ordering something in Mcdonalds or paying at the counter for something is just so so daunting. You basically doubt all the confidence you may have and convince yourself that you aren’t good enough. Some days just getting out of bed in the first place is a huge task and if you do it’s a huge achievement.
Q. Do you find it hard to have and maintain relationships?
I really do. As I already mentioned doubting whether your friends are actually your friends or just being nice means you sometimes end up losing the fight with your mind and starting to close yourself off from the closest people to you, which they will sometimes misconstrue as you being rude and not caring about them. Being in a relationship can be really tough. A lot of the time you just feel worried, sometimes about nothing, but it can make you seriously analyse your relationship and not hearing from your significant other for two hours can make you panic that they have met someone else or don’t really care. I mean it is entirely irrational a lot of the time but it is really hard.
Q. How helpful is medication?
I would say medication is helpful but won’t take the problem away. Unlike depression, anxiety medication often works quicker and more effectively and can make the condition more tolerable. However, no matter what pills you are taking the biggest medicine you can have is to try really hard to push yourself. So even if you feel like you can’t do anything that day and you want to just curl up in bed because you feel you aren’t good enough for anything then you have to fight your mind and attempt things in smaller steps. So you concentrate on getting out of bed, then you take a shower and so on rather than thinking about everything at once and thinking you can’t do it.
Q. Is counselling as bad as everyone says?
So counselling varies in effect from person to person. For some people it works completely but for others they completely hate it. I was one of the latter. Despite this, I do think everyone should attempt counselling at least once as a first resort as it can help you talk things out and decide what you want to do next, whether that’s seeing a doctor or seeing a therapist and that sort of thing. I did also do CBT which is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and teaches you how to categorise and plan things in your life. So cutting what seems impossible into little manageable chunks. We were also taught breathing techniques in these sessions as with anxiety you often find breathing to be an issue and panic and hyperventilate.
Q. Do you always know the underlying cause of your anxiety?
Sometimes you have no idea, you just want to cry. Then you get more upset with yourself because you’re out of control and it’s a never ending cycle. When you do know the cause of a particular episode it’s best to tackle it head on or it can unravel in the worst ways as it just kind of gnaws away at your brain til you have an emotional breakdown.
Q. Are there ever days when you’re not anxious at all?
I think it’s always there but obviously there will be days when it’s more manageable and days when you just can’t fight it. Unfortunately that is the control issue that is really hard to overcome.
Q. Do you tend to push people away when you’re feeling anxious and they try to help?
Definitely. You start ruminating and worrying and decide everyone is better off without your issues and basically close yourself off as I mentioned earlier. Often you try to pretend nothing is wrong but that’s not the best way to go about things. When we do push people away we actually want them to be there for us and push us to not push them away which can be really hard as when you tell someone to go away they might think that that is your exact wish when all you want is them to hug you and tell them it’s okay. So you wonderful people who try to help don’t think we’re trying to be rude we just feel broken and need someone to help us feel safe again.
Q. What would you say to people who think they may be suffering from a mental illness but are too afraid to seek help?
If you think you are suffering from mental illness please, please try and get some form of help. The hardest thing is telling the people who love and care about you, but when you do they will be there every step of the way. In the long run it’s better to have people around you who know what is going on and can help in an emergency and know that help is available where you are being kept track of and receiving the best help to start feeling a little bit better.