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

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.

Defensive About Mental Illness?

I understand it can be difficult at times to be close to someone who suffers from anxiety, depression, panic disorder or any other mental illness. Speaking from experience, it is more difficult to actually suffer from one or more of these illnesses. On top of that, try to imagine living in a world where mental illness has such a negative stigma.

I have an excellent doctor who once told me to not be ashamed of my diagnosis and that it is so common these days. He explained that he treats it no different than any other illness. Of course that made me feel better, however, my “anxiety mind” wouldn’t quit thinking about this topic. If it is so common, why don’t people openly discuss it? Why are people embarrassed to tell people they have a mental illness? I know people that have type 1 diabetes, and I have the utmost respect for them and what they go through, so I am not trying to put them or their illness down in any way. I just often compare diabetes to mental illness because they are both so common and can be hard to cope with on a daily basis. In many cases, if you have diabetes, you are not ashamed to tell people that you have it. You most likely inherited the illness. I can tell you that I inherited my illness as well.

How can we change this? I think we need to start talking openly to others about our illness and STOP feeling ashamed! What are your thoughts?

The Importance of Support

If you have ever experienced a panic attack, you know how they can sneak up on you without any notice.  This unwelcomed guest can cause all kinds of scary symptoms, and it may even convince you that you are going to die.  Unfortunately if you’ve had one panic attack, you can most likely expect another.  This is why, I cannot stress enough, how important it is to have a support person and a plan in place.

Many times, panic attacks will occur when you are alone, which is extremely scary. In my experience, being alone may not always be the worst-case scenario. Having a panic attack when you are with someone that knows nothing about anxiety and panic attacks, can be worse, and escalate the situation even more. It’s bad enough that you think something very bad is happening to you and your health, but when you are with someone and you see that they are also thinking something is wrong with you, it can increase your panic to a new level.

When you feel comfortable, communicate with your family and close friends. Explain what your symptoms are, and what you need from them when you are feeling nervous, or when you can feel an attack coming on. It will not only help them by learning what anxiety symptoms you have, it will help you because they will understand what is going on and they will be able to coach you through the situation.    One very important step in talking to your support person is informing them of what you might be feeling, doing, or saying during an episode of anxiety or panic.  Tell them ahead of time what you need from them.

Approximately fifteen years ago, my husband was in a very bad car accident.  A semi ran into his truck and he was badly injured.  He spent days in the hospital and I instantly started having severe anxiety symptoms.  After he was released from the hospital, we still had to travel back to the hospital for appointments.  Thankfully, my mother-in-law went with us to some of his appointments for added support.  Shortly after walking in the hospital, I felt my chest tightening up. I told them I was too nervous to go into the room and I would just wait in the waiting room.  As time went on, I had myself so worked up that I started hyperventilating.  My mother-in-law came out to update me on my husband, and at that point, I was in a full blown panic attack.  I told her I couldn’t breath and said something was wrong with me.  Keep in mind, I had not had any in depth conversations with her about my anxiety.  I saw the panic on her face and she told me she would walk me to the ER. I instantly felt worse because I thought that if she was thinking that I needed to go to the ER, something had to be wrong with me. By the time we walked into the ER entrance, I was hyperventilating worse than before.  I heard her tell a nurse that I needed to be seen immediately, and that my mouth and chin were turning purple.  Once I heard her say that, I was struck again with another surge of panic and had to sit down because I thought I was going to pass out.  The nurse put me in a small consultation room and begun checking my vitals.  At this point, I was violently shaking and slurring my words.  I convinced myself that I was having a stroke because my mouth felt numb and I couldn’t even talk.  After checking my vitals, the nurse said I was doing fine and that the ER was very busy so it could be a long time before I could get in a room.  After about an hour of sheer panic, they still were telling me nothing was wrong and they gave me Benedryl since I had already taken a different medication when I felt anxious in the waiting room earlier.  The Benedryl knocked the edge off eventually and I started to feel more normal.  I never did get to see a doctor and since I had calmed down, we left for home.  First, I want to say that I do not blame my mother-in-law for any of this, she was genuinely worried about me.  She had never been with anyone during a panic attack nor did she know anything about them.  This situation would have turned out completely different if I would have had a talk about my illness with her previously. She wouldn’t have panicked and could have possibly got me calmed down in the waiting room.  If that was my mom, who had known about my panic disorder, she would have told me that I am just having anxiety.  She would have rubbed my back and reminded me how to breath correctly.  Things would not have escalated and turned out to be the worst panic attack of my life.

Please learn from my mistake! Be proactive, and talk to people you trust about your anxiety and/or panic disorder.   The more people you have in your life that  can be there for you, the more comfortable you will feel. You never know, you might discover that someone close to you has similar experiences but hasn’t felt comfortable enough to open up about it!

 

 

Don’t Feel Ashamed – Anxiety and Other Mental Illnesses

It’s easy for me to tell you not to feel ashamed of the fact that you have been diagnosed with anxiety, depression, or any other mental disorder. I’ve been told numerous times how common anxiety disorders are.  Many people have been diagnosed with some form mental illness, we just don’t always know that because people don’t talk about it like they do with other illnesses.  That always tends to make me feel a little more comfortable knowing that so many other people have experienced what I have gone through, and still go through today.  Not that I wish this upon anyone else, it just makes me feel more “normal”.  If so many people have experienced what I have, why don’t I hear others talk about it? Continue reading

My First Experience with Anxiety

One Evening, My Life Changed Forever

What comes to your mind when I say anxiety disorder? What about diabetes or heart disease? I am not an expert on diabetes or heart disease but from what I understand, when you have diabetes, your pancreas is not functioning properly.  Obviously, heart disease affects your heart and circulatory system.  What about an anxiety disorder?  Does it just mean you get nervous?  Absolutely not! Just like any disease, something in your body isn’t doing what it supposed to do.  When you have an anxiety disorder, part of your brain isn’t functioning correctly.  Have you ever known anyone with diabetes or heart disease that kept their medical issue hidden from others because someone might think they’re crazy?  How about anxiety, panic disorder, depression, or bi-polar disorder? Do you often hear people openly talk about having any of these conditions? In my personal experience, I could count the number of people that have told me they have a mental disorder on one hand.  Why is that? I hear numerous people talk about other health issues on a daily basis.  I am not proud to say that  I was no different, until now. I have hidden my condition for years, only telling my family and close friends what I have gone through since I was a little girl.  I have felt ashamed, “weird”, and like people will think I’m “crazy” if I tell them.  I am ready to talk about this because I know many of you go through the same thing, and have similar feelings of fear and shame, that I have experienced.  I have lived with this condition for nearly 40 years.  I consider myself an expert on this subject and now I want to help others!  I would be surprised if someone told me an experience they have had with this disease that I wasn’t familiar with or had not experienced myself. Continue reading