Anxiety is something I've struggled with for a long time. I wasn't always able to identify it as anxiety, but looking back its something that has been there since I was a teenage. If I'm being honest, I'm a little nervous writing this post. I am hoping that confronting my anxiety rather than trying to push it to the back of my mind will actually do a better job of helping. I've never really talked too much about my anxiety - I tend to brush it off as being not that big of a deal as talking about it makes me anxious. Its a bit of a vicious circle.
It took me a long time to be able to identify my anxiety as a real issue. It first manifested as social anxiety as a teenager which was easily explained as being shy and lacking confidence but it was more than that. I started really getting the physical symptoms of anxiety attacks at around 19/20 but was always able to explain them away. It wasn't until I was around 23 that it got so bad I couldn't ignore it. For those of you not familiar with anxiety the main physical symptoms are heart palpitations and shortness of breath which can make one feel like they are having a heart attack.
The problem with it is that I had no idea this was anxiety and really thought there was something wrong with me, so what followed was frequent trips to the doctors over the following 2 years. Missed work, heart tests and lots of blood tests until finally the doctor suggested that it might be down to anxiety. I was pretty sceptical at first if I'm being honest. The attacks were so severe I really thought there had to be something physically wrong with me and the doctor was just throwing out an easy answer because he didn't know what was wrong.
Its not just the overwhelming panic attack, its the feelings that precede and follow. Its hard to describe, but when I talk now about an anxiety attack it may not be the physical manifestation but just all the feelings that go along with it that last far longer than a panic attack and can be more debilitating.
The other thing about these attacks is they can trigger binges. I don't know what it is but it can feel like there is an emptiness that needs to be filled and food seems like the answer. I lose control for a few minutes. I'll only do it when I'm on my own or I think nobody is watching. It doesn't help, usually it actually makes things worse because the guilt and disgust creeps in after its over which doesn't help.
I'm choosing to write about this now because I guess you could say I am going through a bit of a rough period. Its been a few weeks and the attacks have been fairly regular, but I'm doing ok. I've been trying to casually bring it up in conversation with people, to make it not as big of a deal but I think it either freaks people out or makes them worry. I don't want that, but I don't want to hide it away like its a big terrible secret. Its harder to deal with when you feel like you have to hide it, like its something to be ashamed of or a weakness and it's not.
I saw this quote on facebook this week and its the most accurate description of how it feels. I wrote at the beginning of this that I was a little nervous writing it. Now its written I'm absolutely terrified posting it, so I think I'm just going to stop writing and post it.