Just like a physical illness whether it be as small as a cold or as serious as heart disease nothing about them is nice. But unlike a lot of mental illnesses physical ones have a lot of understanding, empathy and social acceptance. Whereas mental illnesses can sometimes be met with judgement, misunderstanding and frustration which can make the sufferer feel isolated, guilty, confused and more likely to hide their problems from others which in turn can make their situation worse.
What I want to do is write about my experiences with certain mental illnesses like anxiety, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and depression. Not why I have them as it would be irrelevant as to why I am writing this. I want this to help people and nothing else, not for pity or to feel sorry for me but I must use myself and my experiences as a reference to help others be it understand more so it helps a loved one or to help somebody suffering, it may give them some relief in not thinking they are “crazy” or on their own (which you most certainly are not).
I am writing about this at probably the best time as I currently just had a pretty hard anxiety attack. It was while walking home from town, been feeling off 2 days prior to this so it wasn’t a shock to be honest. It basically started off with a feeling of being uncomfortable in public then came like this disorientated dizziness not like if you spin around for too long more like your eyes can’t keep up with what’s going on but it’s because there’s so much going on in your mind. Then my legs started to go funny like in Tom and Jerry when Tom wants to run after Jerry and his legs are going super fast but he’s not running anywhere kind of like that.
Or more realistically when you’re riding a bike and the gears are too low and you’re peddling really fast but not moving as fast as you’re peddling. Then it became really bad, chest got tight my breathing was hard my heart was beating fast and I wanted to cry for no reason. When all that was put together I really didn’t feel good or safe I was scared to even cross the road cause I felt like I was floating and not in full control of my body or even what I was seeing.
During this entire situation if you were to look at me you wouldn’t think there was much wrong which also is a problem because you are using up so much energy trying to look normal and act like everything is OK. I finally got home and just lay on my bed crying and out of breath and that was kind of the end of my anxiety attack. My advice and what I did do was call a close friend who I trust and told him I didn’t feel OK. You know when you tell a person after you felt bad that you felt bad and they say “you should have called” or “messaged me” but in the moment of feeling anguish you don’t…. Just try because it’s another part of any mental illness not asking for help I didn’t want to call my friend because I didn’t want to bother him or I didn’t want to sound silly. It’s a trick your mind is playing a trick on you and making you think like that. Try to over ride that thought process as hard as it is. Just a simple “I’m not feeling good” will do it will also relive some pressure from your head because you have said it to someone that you trust.
So today is about 10 days after my big anxiety attack and for those 10 days I have felt pretty crap. A lot of intrusive thoughts, tiredness, compulsions and feeling really uncomfortable in my own skin. Self esteem is quite low too. The thing with some mental illnesses is that you can be anxious from your OCD or depressed because of your anxiety for example I was diagnosed with PTSD (which I will talk about again) a lot of the symptoms like startled response, always on red alert, feeling like you’re in danger make me anxious and then when that has made me anxious makes my compulsions from OCD worse so one can trigger my anxiety which in turn will make my OCD worse.
Things I do to ease my anxiety(that may work for you):
- Training/Sports. After I train I usually feel a lot better at least for a few hours which is better then nothing. my mind is focused on what I am doing, I’ve set a long term goal that I need to train for so I am only focused on achieving that goal while I train. This is my main relief from my anxiety.
- Music: This is more of a tool I have to stop the anxiety getting worse. So for example when I leave my house and the first person to look at me or stare at me I can feel it coming so when I put in my headphones and listen to my music it kinda stops me from going up the anxiety gears.
3. Communication and Compassion: So today I was talking to a friend who suffers from anxiety and she was explaining how herself and her partner get into big arguments when she gets anxious and the more they argue the worse she gets, the worse she gets the more frustrated he gets. This is simply down to a lack of understanding from one and a lack of communication (the anxious person) from the other. If you the sufferer can find a way to communicate your problem to your partner, family member or friend then you have done your part. So for the other person who may not understand what is happening or doesn’t know what to do simply educate yourself a little bit. Read up on the topic, ask the person how they feel or what makes them anxious or what makes them calm down and is there anything they can do to help the situation. There is no blame in a situation like this its just lacking the necessary tools to stop a situation becoming escalated.
If you have read this, thank you. I really set out for this to help people as I have come across far too many people suffering in silence and feeling like they would be judged or looked at differently. So if this has help you even just a little bit whether it’s help you feel like you are not on your own or if it has help you understand what a loved one may be going through then that is a really positive thing.