Anxiety and worrying is something that I have had to always deal with on a daily basis. World Mental Health day has compelled me to write this blog post to give myself some peace of mind and help others around me. I have always been honest and open about my mental health and have often been afraid of being ‘too honest’ (If there is such a thing). That ultimately, people will see me in a different light or treat me differently because of it. This blog’s aim is to reiterate to myself (because sometimes I forget) and to those who are also worrying warriors that worrying is deep down a good thing. It means that you care. Whether it is about a person you worry about, yourself or a situation like school/university work. Be kind to yourself please!!!
I have been worrying my whole life and genetically (my mum suffers from anxiety and my dad is a hyperchondriac) it was inevitable that it was going to affect me in some way. My mum always said that in parent’s evening conferences in primary school the worry box would consistently get brought up because I was an avid contributor. The 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami made it hard for my 7/8 year old self to go on beach for almost 2 years. I didn’t attend school in year 8 once because I knew we were watching a film about a meteor apocalypse and I was going to worry that it was going to happen. I became unhealthily fixated on the film 2012 and apocalypse theories because I was worried that I was going to die before I took my GCSES. Now, these are irrational extremes I know but it shows how it has affected me for most of my life. And whilst this level of irrationality doesn’t necessarily affect me anymore – I have come to understand that it’s a part of me but I’m not going to let it stop me from living my life.
Every person worries, it’s part of being a human and often equates with vulnerability. But for those who are like myself, it goes that extra step to overpowering the mind and overpowering the body. Recently, I have been shocked how physical worrying can be from simply feeling fatigued, to lightheadness, nausea and brain zaps. These physical symptoms can make the initial problem worse as you over think and start to think something is seriously wrong with you. Your mind starts to think like it’s an author of its own Virginia Woolf novel, running away with itself, never stopping and never concluding. You become hyper-aware of everything around you and hyper aware of your body and whats happening to it – so much so you forget to do the simplest thing organisms can do – breathe.
Recognising your irrationality can make your worrying either better or worse. I find that it is so important to not beat yourself up over feeling a certain way. If you are feeling irrational over someone or a certain situation – I find confiding in that person is the quickest way to alleviate your worries just a tiny bit. And if they react negatively to your worrying or cannot deal with it then they don’t deserve for you to worry about them. If you don’t want to do this, then vent to a friend (which does sound simple initially). And even if that is not possible then write it down in a worrying journal (I possess many). A problem shared is a problem halved – even if its shared between the confines of pages that no one ever has to see.
There are techniques to deal with worrying that I am still teaching myself to do and live by. Ranging from small mindfulness exercises in the morning to making sure I am doing enough exercise and not drinking too heavily all the time. Or more personal things like I find Pinterest really relaxing, or writing, having a sweet tea. Some people find hot baths relaxing but I get restless and can’t lie there for more than 10 minutes. The smallest changes don’t have the most immediate effect but long term I believe they will help. Plucking up the courage to seek professional help was also a major milestone but I also understand that this isn’t for everyone.
The physical side of anxiety and worrying started to hit me when I was 16 years old and while I don’t feel 100% comfortable to discuss that so openly yet it has taught me that you don’t know what people are going through so always try your best to be compassionate and that you shouldn’t be intimidated or judgemental if someone confides in you. Don’t dismiss them as being dramatic, over-emotional or silly. We are worrying warriors and we experience the peaks and troughs of life like everyone else, we just feel it that little bit more.