I was finally diagnosed with anxiety disorder in 2012, I had been to the doctors previously for the same type of symptoms and was put onto heart monitors, which obviously came back OK. I didn’t know what a panic attack was, so I didn’t know what was happening to me and just shrugged it off for years. During the last year of college was when things started going downhill for me, which quickly became out of control. This was due to “an accumulation of life events” says Dr P – he’s right, as always. For that summer, I didn’t go outside my dad’s flat, I stayed in my PJs and kept the curtains closed, as I just couldn’t face anyone. I would, and still do, overthink absolutely everything, every minuscule detail I analyse and it’s exhausting. I hate meeting new people and going to new places, the two together is like hell on earth for me. I worry that people are judging me all the time, whether that be my looks, my clothes, my personality, what words come out my mouth if any etc. I hate the thought of embarrassing myself from something so silly like pulling a push door. It’s made me lose every morsel of confidence I ever had and I want it back.
I have been told by many people that my face tells a different story, I put up a front and I can fool people into thinking that I’m doing alright. I remember one person telling me, “But I can see the truth in your eyes”. I will never forget that, it’s quite sad really. I’m Natalie and I have anxiety disorder. Feels weird writing this, but I think (I hope!) it does me good. I still have a long way to go in terms of getting my old self back, but I’m on the right path. So, I thought I would share the ways I cope with anxiety and hopefully you can pick out a couple that could help you. 🙂
We all do it, obviously, or we’d be pushing up daisies, but I mean deep breathing. This is something new to me and it seems stupidly obvious but it’s worked for me, in certain situations. Whether you stop and do deep breaths before or during a situation, it can calm you down and really help push you through. I’ve done this at the supermarket and a play date recently – I lived through them. I breathe in and out and count to 10 or more, or less, depending on what I feel I need.
The Drama Triangle.
This is something really new to me and I haven’t used very much but I like the idea of it. Basically you have an upside down triangle – The Victim at the at the bottom, the Prosecutor at the top right, and the Rescuer at the top left. The triangle explains the toxic nature of each role. I was given the example of an alcoholic husband and his wife. The Victim being his wife, the alcoholic doesn’t show up on time, stays out all hours, doesn’t take his wife out for meals or date night, when he does come home he beats his wife. The Prosecutor is the alcoholic, he dominates the relationship, bullies his wife into staying in the relationship saying nobody would want her anyway, she’s not worth it. The Rescuer is the alcoholic husband, on the very few occasions he isn’t drunk, he apologises to his wife, says he has a disease, he is so sorry, I love you, let’s go for that meal. In this situation he is abusing his wife, being an alcoholic and them becoming the rescuer – dominating. Then one day the wife decides to leave him, she’s had enough it isn’t fair on her kids, she becomes the Prosecutor and the Rescuer – she takes control of the situation. I hope this makes sense? You can read more about it here, there’s also a video along with it by TED*. I’m trying to put things into perspective, I don’t need to play the Victim, if I do for a long time, it will cripple me and has done before; I need to become the Prosecutor sometimes and take control. oOo Prosecutor.
Do Something That Scares You.
I have come to realise that the only person who can change me, is me. Sometimes I can’t go outside and that really gets to me. But other times I manage out and that’s good! I go places which scare me, groups or lots of people scare me and make me nervous; which I’ve learned came from bullying. So people surrounded by people really does make my heart pump! But I have survived it and I will continue to put myself out there. It’s scary but it’s worth it.
Bye Bye Caffeine.
It has taken years to realise caffeine really affects me, it makes me super anxious and I become a totally different person and it’s not nice to see. I used to drink coffee like it was going out of fashion but I try to have between 2-3 cups a day, I have started to buy more fruit and herbal teas instead. I was told by a doctor there is more caffeine in tea than coffee – so tea is out the question. Maybe you can cut out some caffeine in your diet and start seeing improvements?
Lots of fast food and generally unhealthy foods affect my mood too, it took me a while to see this also, even though you hear about it a lot. I always thought it was nonsense to be honest, but it’s really not! I feel so much better with a balanced diet. Lots of fruit and veg makes me feel like a new woman!
Positive thinking gives you a positive outlook. My mind is constantly battling negative thinking but I am trying to think more positively. I find it helpful to think of everything I am thankful for in life, or I just look at little O and my heart bursts. Everyone has positives they can channel, write yours down!
Giving Up Control.
We cannot control everything in life, that’s just the way it is. I try and put things into perspective, is it really as bad as I think it is? 99.9% of time it’s not!
Idea of Perfection.
This is something that I struggle with, I have to do everything perfectly or not at all. And sometimes you can’t be ‘perfect’ – what even is perfect?! I’m learning to do the best I can and that’s all you can do. Let go of this idea of perfection, do your best and you’ll enjoy things more. I’m constantly putting myself down about things I haven’t done ‘perfect’ – why?! Why put even more pressure on MYSELF!
I find this one quite difficult, as I want to look differently but I have the view that “I’ll never look that way so why bother”. It’s vicious cycle! But when I do even get out for a walk with O in the pram, it clears my head and I feel so much better for it. I really do.
I hope you can pick out certain things I have mentioned here to help your anxiety. I don’t want to go into it too much yet, I’m still working up the courage! But one day I will – it’s that judgement thing again with moi 🙂 scary biskwits!! Please leave a comment and share your tips on managing anxiety – sharing is caring!