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Surviving Anxiety

by Mckenzie Giese

Seeing unwanted, unrealistic images that upset us, feeling unprompted worries. Indulged into these thoughts while it manifests each of our lives. We think to ourselves, am I good enough? What if I’m not? What if that group of people over there are talking about me? Laughing at me? What could they be saying about me? What if I’m not doing the right thing? Did they lose interest in me? I won’t be able to get into college. What if I’m not smart enough. I’m going to do horrible on this test. What if I’m not who I’m supposed to be? Feeling sick to my stomach, I’m not really ill though. My heart is beating rapidly, there is no way to calm it. There is really no way to explain it well enough besides I feel as if I’m stuck under water. Temporary worry/fear, is the definition of anxiety. It is the worry or fear just stays the same or worsens as time goes on. The feelings can interfere with daily life such as school, work, homework, your social life, etc. There are several types of anxiety, the following are just a couple of them: generalized anxiety, panic, and social. For those who don’t have anxiety or don’t know how it really affects an individual, here are three scenarios. Conversations/speaking, relationship wise, and anxiety attacks in general.

Speaking. Whether publically in front of a few people, a crowd, or a few of people you just met. I’ve always had social anxiety. I remember going in front of my class, having to present about a book I read. My stomach was so uneasy, I almost went to the nurse, I wanted to go home. My legs and hands were shaking out of control. I couldn’t even hold up the book I had in my hands, without the book shaking along with them. I couldn’t wait to be done, to sit back into my seat. When I sat down, my negative thoughts didn’t go away. I thought others were making fun of me, I thought that I did a bad job, that I could do better. Those thoughts stayed with me for the rest of the week.

Relationships. Within anxiety and not just with relationships, your thoughts tend to wander without control. But within relationships, your mind definitely wanders to the dark side. You constantly think your partner is wanting to leave you, is cheating on you, is having second thoughts. You think they suddenly change their mind on their view of you, you think they are ignoring your calls or text messages. What I find in my reality from my own situation, they never want to leave you, they love you so they never think of cheating on you, they never have second thoughts. Not for one second they didn’t think you were not beautiful or handsome, and they are just usually tied up with something.

Anxiety Attacks. Hyperventilating, shaking, uncontrolled thoughts, nausea and forgetting how to breath. Here are what some people described it as. As if someone someone is sitting on your chest and you are not able to breathe.  Another person said that words don’t even come close to describing what it feels like, which I agree with. Sure, you can describe symptoms but the experience is so much more different and powerful. Anxiety attacks, they are exhausting. You travel through different emotions, you cry, and you become emotionally drained.

I created a survey, to see what other people go through, besides me. I want to know what others are feeling. I concluded from the survey that I am not alone, on this anxiety journey. I have the similar symptoms and effects just like many others. When I finalized the survey, thirty-two people already had taken it. Twenty-two of those people said they have avoided something because they were nervous/scared about being in a new environment or situation. Thirty people had confessed to over-thinking situations. Twenty-six individuals said they haven’t been diagnosed. For those who answered yes to being diagnosed and having prescribed medication, four say the medication works and two don’t take the medication given to them. Sixteen people lose sleep at night because of being worried/upset about something that previously happened to them, or something that is upcoming. Nineteen people find it hard to concentrate on school/homework/work when they are worried about something. Anxiety affects 18.1% of adults in the U.S. (Approximately 40 million adults between the ages of 18 to 54)

I also asked each individual to describe how they cope with their anxiety. Here are a few of the answers I collected. To relax and take deep breaths, forcing themselves to reach out to their friends and family and focusing on self-care, praying, closing their eyes to think when they are alone, essential oils, yoga, mindfulness and being around nature, read, mini-meditation sessions and no procrastinating, exercise, being in their comfort zone, medication and seeing a counselor. Some don’t know how to cope with it, so I hope some of these things will help. As for myself, I try new things everyday, but I usually just deal with it, knowing it is a part of me. I pray to get guidance, I reach out to my friends, listen to music, and do what makes me happy. Yet, I know I do what I shouldn’t with my anxiety. When I don’t know what to do to help it, I don’t go to my friends to help, I keep all my thoughts in my head, then one day it all comes out as one, which is not good for mental health. I try not to think about what bothers me, because I know that it is just another day and we are all people, no one is perfect. We compare each other way too often, we criticize ourselves as hard as we can and we over think, we are human. No one is perfect. For those who have anxiety, don’t believe every worried though you have. worried thoughts are notoriously inaccurate. Life is tough, but so are you.

May, is mental awareness month. Anxiety is a disorder within the brain, it’s not just nervousness or being scared. It’s bigger than what most people think.

“Anxiety is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.” - Jodi Picoult, Sing You Home.