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At Safe Place Therapy we value personal experience of mental health issues and see the need for these stories to be told.Here is a personal experience of anxiety.
My anxiety got so bad I couldn’t leave the house. I had to quit my job, was not sleeping, and was in a constant state of fear. A Psychiatrist diagnosed me with Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Anxiety disorders are a serious mental illness. This happens when our anxiety starts to impact our ability to live our lives. Everyone's experience with anxiety is unique but some common physical symptoms, across all types of anxiety, which I have are heart palpitations, shortness of breath, nausea, muscle tension, and feelings of panic/fear. Psychological symptoms include constant worry, irritability, and self-doubt.
Living with anxiety is tough because at its worst it is incredibly debilitating, where you feel like you’re dying and cannot leave the house or drive. Sometimes panic attacks take you to the emergency department. When anxiety is managed, you often forget you are susceptible to a relapse. We stop our regular coping strategies or therapy then one day the dread takes over and we are back to where we started. This is the hardest part for me- trying not to beat myself up for having a relapse or not looking after myself properly, especially if I am anxious for no reason at all.
An anxious day for me is a heaviness in my head, heart palpitations, irritability, and overwhelming dread. My body is telling me something bad is happening right now and I need to escape! A bad day is full of self-doubt- I can't do my job or study, or maintain my relationships. I feel like I have to quit everything and run away. Remembering that these feelings are temporary (even if they last for weeks at a time!) is hard in that moment. Sometimes hibernating in bed is the only thing that can get you through some days.
Talking to someone, identifying triggers or what makes our anxiety worse is really important. Practicing daily meditation/mindfulness, having a written plan of action to turn to when you’re overwhelmed is helpful. This may include- reminder to take deep breaths, calling someone you trust, or doing some Yoga. I have an anxiety/panic crisis kit and this includes- a small soft toy to cuddle, mints to chew on, a scented candle to smell, empowering quotes, a journal to write about my worries.
Talking to a counsellor is really useful in learning how to manage anxiety. A Counsellor can help you unpack and recognise anxiety triggers, learn where you can challenge your anxiety and when it is best to accept and approach it with compassion. Having a counsellor also makes you accountable in taking care of yourself! Regular check in sessions with a trained professional at Safe Place Therapy will give you a nonjudgmental space to talk about your worries, and will help you keep your anxiety managed. You are not alone and can live a fulfilling life with anxiety.