How Can You Help Someone With Anxiety?

We Don’t Always Know How to Ask For Help

Helping someone with anxiety can be difficult, especially if you haven’t experienced the dreaded illness yourself.  If your friend or loved one has let you in, close enough to share their illness, you must be a very special person to them.  Society has taught us with anxiety to feel ashamed of our illness, and we fear what others might think about us if we open up and reveal who we really are.  Very sad, but true.  We need support, but don’t always know how to ask for it. This makes it extremely tough for those that want to help us, but just don’t understand how. Below are some helpful tips, from an expert on anxiety,  on how to help those you know with this illness that has such a negative stigma.

  1. Show Them You Care – Learn About Their Illness! – There is nothing that would show us you care more than to know you took the time to learn about anxiety.  Knowing the causes, symptoms, and how to help us through difficult times is the absolute #1 thing you can do.  If you understand what we are experiencing is a normal part of our illness , we will be more reassured.  If you know what the symptoms are, you will be able to help us through attacks of severe anxiety.  All we need is for someone to tell us that what we are feeling is a normal part of our anxiety, and that we will be okay.
  2. Stay Calm! – We will do all the worrying, you just need to stay calm and reassure us that we will be okay. If I am feeling like my chest is tightening up and I am having trouble getting air, the situation could go one of two ways.  During an anxiety attack, I am very aware of my surroundings.  You can bet I am watching how you are reacting to my attack.  I might feel like I am going to suffocate to death.  If I see you panic, then that will reassure me that I am in bad shape, and a trip to the ER is eminent.  On the other hand, if you calmly rub my back, tell me I am okay, and that it is just a symptom of my anxiety, I will eventually calm down and be okay.
  3. Be Patient – Please be patient with us.  It may be obvious that we are being irrational, but it is so real to us.  We will be worrying that you are going to get tired of dealing with our illness and we will pick up on any frustration you may show.  Anxiety sometimes makes us irritable, unsocial, and insecure.  Just realize that we are trying our best and knowing you understand, and are patient with us, takes a lot of weight off our shoulders.
  4. Be Encouraging – Anxiety can talk us into believing we can’t accomplish anything.  It may even force us to stay home for days.  Encouraging us to get out of the house, even if it is just going on a drive together, will build confidence.  The more confident we get, the sooner we will realize we really are okay.  It might take a little push to get us going, but it is what we need.
  5. Show a Little Extra Affection – Anxiety can makes us insecure.  I have often wondered why certain people put up with me.  I sometimes feel guilty that I am a pain in the ass.  Show us a little extra affection to reassure us that you love us unconditionally.

Misunderstood

I am often misunderstood.  I am misunderstood by people that are very close to me, and people I barely know.  I blame my anxiety.

A few nights ago, I was making dinner.  I had a good day and was excited to spend some quality time with my family. I was listening to the television that was on in the other room as I was preparing the asparagus for the grill.  The volume was turned up so my husband could hear it over the the dogs growling & running around the house, sounding like a herd of elephants.  My daughter was sitting at the dinner table nearby watching a goofy Youtube video.  She was laughing and kept asking me to watch it. Her iPad volume was extremely loud, probably because of all the other commotion in the house.  I felt myself starting to tense up and shake.  The dogs come sliding towards me on the hard wood floor.  “DAMN IT! KEEP THESE DOGS OUT OF THE KITCHEN!  I’M TRYING TO GET SUPPER READY!” As tears are running down my cheeks, my husband looks at me like I am from some other planet.  As he walks away, he rolls his eyes.  Continue reading

Let’s Talk About Anxiety & Depression

There Are Times When I Can’t Complete Simple Daily Tasks

If you are like me, you have anxiety and depression. I have struggled with this illness most of my life, and I am pretty sure there is no symptom of anxiety I haven’t been nose to nose with. There are many times in my life where my illness is well controlled. There are also times when I can’t complete simple daily tasks because of crippling anxiety or depression. It’s during those times you learn what the true definitions of insecurity and vulnerability are.

I Find Myself Seeking Out People I know That Have Anxiety or Depression

Seeing a medical professional will always be my first suggestion. Whether a medication change is necessary, or you just need someone to talk to – See a doctor!  Next, I find myself seeking out people I know that have anxiety or depression. Those are the people I feel comfortable with. I can share what symptoms I am experiencing without the fear of being judged. I feel blessed to have some family and a few friends who can relate to me and I can always count of them for support.

Anyone with empathy for my situation is what I find myself searching for during my low times. Sharing feelings, fears, & symptoms with someone who understands has always proven to be the best therapy for me. The first time I almost passed out during a panic attack was one of the most fearful moments in my life. I thought for sure I was near death. Once I began to feel a little better, I started worrying about it happening again. I would obsess about it. I talked to a family member about my experience and she told me it was nothing to worry about. She experienced the same thing many times and gave me a paper bag to put in my purse to breath into in case it happened again. Once I knew she had the same thing happen to her, I wasn’t as afraid anymore. At that time, it just became a normal symptom of anxiety and I knew I would be okay.

We Need to Keep Talking to Each Other and Learn That We Are Not Alone

Anxiety and depression can be very scary, especially to people who have not experienced it before. Once you learn that your symptoms are typical for your illness, it lifts a huge weight off of your chest. We need to keep talking to each other and learn that we are not alone. Send me a private message if you need someone to talk to. I have been so fortunate to have people in my life who know what anxiety and depression can feel like. I can’t imagine how I would have gotten through some very tough times if those people weren’t there for me. For those people who feel alone – I am here to talk to. I am not a doctor, but I sure have experience with mental illness, and I’d love to help you!

-Michelle

The Stress of Finals

Finals Can be excruciating for any student, but add a student with anxiety or any other mental illness to the mix, and it can be a total nightmare. Relax, count to 10, and keep on reading.

You do well in class, you ace all your homework, but bomb all your tests.  It seems like it’s a losing battle. I have known that I have had anxiety for as long as I can remember, but I didn’t realize I had test anxiety until I was out of college. (Great time to realize that, huh?) I paid attention in class, always did well on my homework and studied several hours for an exam. A few hours before the test, I would start worrying. What if I studied the wrong things? What if I forget everything? What if totally bomb the test? All of these “what ifs” will make any person a nervous wreck. Once it was test time, I already knew I’d be lucky if I got a D.

For all of you anxiety sufferers that are getting ready for finals, here are some tips to try before your next exam.

1. When studying, make sure to take breaks often, to relax your mind.

2. Don’t overthink! You know this stuff so don’t second-guess yourself.

3. When you are prepared for your exam, exercise in some positive talk. Make it fun–anytime you think “what if”, or participate in negative self talk, you have to do 10 pushups!

4. Practice relaxation exercises often, up until you take your exam.

5. You are stronger than you think! You got this!!!

Don’t know how to relax? Click on the link below.  These are excellent breathing exercises that I use often.  Remember, you can do this…good luck!

6 Breathing Exercises to Relax in 10 Minutes or Less


 

Why Am I Having Anxiety Now?

Why Am I Having Anxiety Now?

I have often asked myself this question. How can I be feeling well for so long, and then my anxiety symptoms appear out of nowhere?

Anxiety and depression have been a part of my life for longer than I can remember. I have become an “anxiety expert” and have a very good understanding of what feeds my anxiety. Trust me, it has taken me years of severe episodes of anxiety and depression to pin point triggers, and learn ways to manage the symptoms. At times, being able to continue my daily routine was very difficult, and sometimes impossible.

Continue reading

Side Effects of Antidepressant/Anxiety Medications

There may come a time when you are faced with making a decision on whether or not to start taking antidepressants, or anti-anxiety medications. I will share some of my experiences to help you become more informed of some possible side effects and things you should consider before making your final decision.  Side effects should always be discussed with your doctor, however, it is nice to have someone else’s view that has actually experienced some of these unpleasant side effects.

Almost 18 years ago, after the birth of my third son, I experienced an episode of extreme anxiety.  This definitely wasn’t my first experience with anxiety, but it was severe enough for me to see the doctor. This was the first doctor visit where the topic of medication was brought up. I didn’t know anything about it, besides it would help control my anxiety and depression. I was so excited to start taking it! We did not discuss any side effects of the medication I was put on.  I believe it was Paxil.

The medication took about a month for me to notice that it was helping. I gradually had less anxiety attacks, and stopped obsessing over things I couldn’t control.  Side effects for me at that time were tremors, dry mouth, and decreased sex drive. I started feeling great, so after approximately 3 months, I decided I didn’t need it anymore so I stopped taking it.  I was young and uninformed and didn’t know this was a “no no”.

We had a wedding to go to a week later that was a six hour drive.  I had been feeling very ill and contemplated whether I would be able to go or not. I was getting so dizzy,  and couldn’t hardly get out of bed. This was making me worry and my anxiety was  beginning to return. I ended up going to an immediate care medical center and described my symptoms.  The doctor said I had an inner ear infection and gave me an antibiotic and a medication to help with the dizziness.

I was on my second day of medication and there were no changes with my symptoms. If anything, they had gotten worse. I decided I would still go out of town with my husband.  I was miserable the whole time. I was getting more nervous and thinking something horrible must be wrong with me.

One evening, days later, I was looking up my symptoms online. I ran across an article talking about side effects of stopping these medications and they were exactly what I had been going through. I was relieved and angry at the same time. Why wouldn’t my doctor discuss this with me? Why did the doctor diagnose me with an inner ear infection when he probably could have figured it out if he would have asked me questions about medications I was on, or had recently been on?  Keep in mind, this was almost 18 years ago and doctors were not as familiar with these types of drugs as they are now.

I learned a very important lesson during that time. When my doctor suggests a medication, I ALWAYS ask questions.  Most importantly, make sure to ask about the side effects of a new medication and read as much as you can about it.

Make sure to subscribe to my blog if this article interests you. I will be writing more about side effects of antidepressants and look forward to hearing some of your stories.

 

 

 

Do You Know This Feeling?

Do you know this feeling?  I know it all too well.

Have you ever just been irritated with the world? It feels like nothing you do or say is right. You can tell you have pissed off everyone around you and now you’ve got them in a mood, too.  Your chest is so tight, and it feels like your carrying all the problems in the world on your shoulders.  You just wish someone would give you a hug or ask you what’s wrong, but if they did, you would  probably cry for two days straight.  Do you know this feeling?

Have you ever felt so nervous because there was too much commotion going on around you? You feel like you just need some peace and quite to calm down and unwind from your busy day at work.  You are trying to make supper, but the dogs are fighting and making all kinds of noise, the kids are playing loudly, the TV is on and the volume is up way too high,  and to top it all off, the phone keeps ringing.  You can’t take it anymore, so you start yelling at the dogs, and the kids, and now your whole family is looking at you like you are a crazed maniac. Again, you just wish someone would give you a hug or ask you what’s wrong, but if they did, you would  probably cry for two days straight.  Do you know this feeling?

Have you ever felt so stressed that you caught yourself clenching your teeth, taking shallow breaths in and out because your chest is so tight? Then you realize that you are tightening every muscle in your body and you didn’t even know it? Your muscles are sore for days and someone tells you that you just need to chill out or relax.  And once again, you just wish someone would give you a hug or ask you what’s wrong, but if they did, you would  probably cry for two days straight.  Do you know this feeling?

I know these feelings all too well.  Anxiety sucks.  Not many people understand or know what to say.  It leaves you feeling isolated and guilty.  A hug or caring words would mean so much to someone with anxiety, like me.

People with Anxiety are Special People :)

Some of the Nicest, Most Kindhearted People Are Ones With Anxiety

Living in a crazy, fast paced world is easier for some than others.  As I was sitting here thinking about different personalities of people I know, I realized that some of the nicest, most kindhearted people, are ones with anxiety.  Anxiety sufferers know what it feels like to be uncomfortable in unfamiliar situations.  They know what it feels like to be nervous when meeting someone new, or getting up in front of an audience.  They are the people that will go out of their way to comfort you, because they understand how you feel.  They make this world a better place.