Welcome back to my blog where you'll never really know what I'll talk about next. My post this week is a bit serious and not related to my art, which by the way is still moving forward at a steady pace.
This past weekend was Halloween weekend and I hope everyone had a better Halloween than I did.
Mine was pretty freaking terrible actually, but that's the past now and I'm glad it is over.
I am also glad I did not experience any anxiety through all the commotion.
Anxiety is a strange thing. Many people don't get it. I can say that, for most of my life I thought people with anxiety were just weird, or weak, or even crazy. I feel terrible thinking of how ignorant I was about this, but that was my perception about this "thing" I did not understand.
I worry that many people act just like I did, and perhaps due to their own ignorance, judge the person feeling anxiety. With that thought I figured I would talk about it a little bit here, but first let's look at the word anxiety.
/æŋˈzaɪɪtɪ/noun (pl) -ties1. a state of uneasiness or tension caused by apprehension of possible future misfortune, danger, etc; worry2. intense desire; eagerness3. (psychol) a state of intense apprehension or worry often accompanied by physical symptoms such as shaking, intense feelings in the gut, etc,common in mental illness or after a very distressing experience
As you can see, Anxiety isn't only a mental disorder but it is viewed as so by most people. If you at any moment tell someone you feel anxiety, they'll most likely think you are talking about the disorder, when in fact everyone feels anxious. It is a natural feeling, that happens to all of us.
That brings me to another point about the word Anxiety. Anxiety is a noun and Anxious is an Adjective, but they are both related to the same thing. Again, a natural occurring feeling; not just a disorder of the mind. Growing up in Brazil and speaking Portuguese, we use the word Anxiety to describe how "Eager" we are. It does not translate to how it is related to the disorder. This was a tough distinction for me to learn here in the U.S. because saying I felt anxious, applied I was feeling some level of anxiety, when I wasn't.
Fast-forward many years into the future and I finally felt "Anxiety". I didn't know that feeling. I did not feel like it was in my head. In fact, it had manifested itself in the form of a mild heart-attack, or at least that's how it felt, so I rushed to the ER.
There has been a few cases of heart problems in my family, and that was the worry in my head as I drove to the hospital.
After all the tests were done, the results came back normal. I cried immediately in relief. I was so confused. I had all the physical symptoms of a mild heart attack and yet, there was nothing there; it was all in my head.
Knowing this, has helped me a ton in remaining calm when I feel the anxiety coming in the shape of strong heart palpitations or irregular heart beats. Let me make sure you understand that I don't always have this privilege. Anxiety can come from nowhere at any time without any warning for no apparent reason.
It isn't something I can just focus away from, as it is within me. It is part of me. I can't tell where it comes from because it is in me; it is me.
There are different forms of anxiety though:
Agoraphobia: fear of being in a place from which you can’t escape.
Panic Disorder: this triggers recurring intense panic attacks.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder: constant worrying.
Social Anxiety Disorder: inability to be the center of attention or talk to new people.
I have to say that I deal mostly with Generalized Anxiety Disorder but have once felt Agoraphobia, although it was triggered by the extreme anxiety I was feeling at the time.
It was towards the end of 2015; I was driving home when anxiety hit me, so I focused on driving as fast as I could without breaking the speed limit, until all of a sudden traffic stopped on the freeway.
The traffic jam came out of nowhere; it was bumper to bumper. Being stuck there, without really moving forward, not getting closer to home, gave me Agoraphobia.
I needed to be safe, and having anxiety at the location I found myself trapped at, was not safe. I almost pulled over to get out of my car and run home. That's how desperate I was.
There are things that could trigger anxiety and things you can do to help deal with it, but these aren't a remedy nor a sure fix.
For me, it was about eliminating the stress surrounding me. I noticed that I was living under extreme stress and wasn't really happy with where I was. Stress was giving me anxiety.
Eventually I did go to a doctor who immediately diagnosed me with Bipolar disorder without running any proper tests, and recommended me to try a certain new medication. I denied the "new" medication and asked for something already in use as treatment. She prescribed me Xanax (a highly addictive substance that can cause dependency and overdose).
I took Xanax just so I could sleep because Anxiety was giving me lots of insomnia; I realized I was going to be on this medication for the rest of my life if I didn't do something about the source of my stress. I realized the medication wouldn't fix my problem; It would only mask it; so I stopped taking it and began changing the source of the problem.
***This isn't to say that at some cases medication is necessary but if you can eliminate the source of your stress, do it***
Taking any substance or drug so you don't feel the symptom isn't going to fix the problem.
It is only going to make you NOT feel the problem, but the problem will still be there.
For my friend Ashleigh Walton, exercise does wonders.
She posted a video today talking about Anxiety. It was a really good video and she touches on some really key points about Anxiety. Unfortunately the video is no longer available.
It has been almost a year since this all happened to me, and after making drastic changes in my lifestyle, I have not had another panic attack yet. This is not to say I have not felt Anxiety. Yes, I have. Sometimes it goes away for weeks and sometimes it stays for weeks. Sometimes, it comes and goes on a daily basis.
You'll never know with Anxiety. Think about that when interacting with others;
Realize that sometimes people aren't being weird; they are just dealing with things at that moment; Things they can't control. People can still live their lives, though inside, they are dying from anxiety.
It is also very important to know you are not alone in this, so reach out to someone you trust to give you a good listening ear. Maybe you don't even know, but people very close to you may suffer from this. It is nothing to be ashamed of. It does not mean you/they are crazy, or weak.
I didn't even know my friend Ashleigh suffered from this too. Knowing that has immediately brought me closer to her; to her understanding; to her struggle; and it gave me a little comfort knowing I have one more person I can talk to if I really need to.
I gotta go now, but I'll see you later. Mr. Martinho