Writing this post has been something I considered from the moment I decided to start a blog. My experience with anxiety and how I have and am coping with it has shaped me as a person in my development years. Before I begin discussing my experience I want to add a little disclaimer; I am in no way an expert on anxiety or panic attacks and I don’t claim to be. All I know is my experience and the small experience I have had with other people’s problems with it. The reason for me writing this is that I know how much reading posts about anxiety helped me through the years (especially Zoella!) and I would like to share in the hope that it might help someone else.
My journey to date
To start off I want to explain my journey. I would say I have had anxiety for around 5/6 years now, but it has definitely always been a part of me. I was a very nervous and anxious child, and very panicky. The real issues started around the time that I started my 2nd year in secondary school (not sure the equivalent in other countries!). I started to be fearful of social situations all of a sudden. The thought of speaking to someone I did not know scared me to death. Now this may sound normal to you for shy people, but it got to a point of me refusing to do things, go places, making excuses of being sick or lying consistently to get out of events that involved social interaction. I also became very depressed at this time, unsure as to why this was all happening to me and developing serious insecurities about myself. As I went on through secondary school, I managed to pull myself out of this a little on my own, only for the anxiety/panic attacks to begin. The first time I ever had a panic attack was during an art exam. I had been very nervous in the lead up to it, and half way through, my chest tightened up, I found it hard to breathe, and I felt like I wasn’t in my own body. I felt like every other student in the exam hall could see me panicking. The world was speeding by me but I was stuck. I instantly put my hand up and went to the bathroom and cried, shaking horribly. After a few minutes I managed to calm myself down and go back and finish my exam, shakily. I think I handled it very well, considering. Since then they have come and go, and I have found that certain situations flare it up. Mostly stressful situations, or crowded public places. I have had many an attack going for my bus home from college in Dublin in the last two years! There was a period of sustained attacks for me right after I finished school, brought on by the great change that was occurring. This affected me greatly and it took me a long time to recover also.
Dealing with anxiety and attacks
In terms of how learning to cope, it is different for every person, I think. I tend to like to get to fresh air, away from other people, and just take a few minutes to concentrate on my breathing and getting it back to normal. I also find in times of stress, listening to music or relaxation sessions on my iPhone really helps to keep my anxiety at bay and prevent attacks as much as possible. Recently I have been struggling quite a bit, worrying about going into my final year of college unsure of my future and doing this blog has been an escape for me! It’s all about finding what makes you comfortable and calm. Another thing I have been trying to do in the last year is push myself out of my comfort zone. I have taught myself that some of those things I thought were scary were actually fun! I would encourage anyone to do this, even if it’s something small like wearing something you thought people wouldn’t like that you love! You will feel all the better for it and may find you are stronger than you thought.
In case anyone is wondering, I have never been on any medication and only seen a doctor about it once. I don’t believe that medication would work for me, but it seems to for others so I see no problem with it. I have quite an addictive personality and I could become reliant on it very quickly, considering how often I am anxious.
I also want to discuss being embarrassed or ashamed of having anxiety or panic attacks. I have been, and still am quite reluctant to tell people I have it. I know in my heart that people may not understand but they will not judge when they are close to me but I think it is something I haven’t fully come to terms with yet. There are some close friends of mine that have no idea I deal with this. Writing this post is a big step in that part of my journey to acceptance.
That is my experience with anxiety, I hope that this made sense to someone and helped you out. Anxiety is a condition that seems to be coming to light more often now which is great as people are becoming more educated and I think it has helped me to express to others that it is something I deal with. If anyone has any questions or advice for others from their experience with themselves or others, please comment down below! Also if anyone would like me to write a post on depression/suicidal thoughts, please let me know. If anybody who reads this feels they need someone to talk to; message me, DM me on twitter, anonymous message me on Tumblr, whatever you like! I would be happy to help anyone in any way I can.
Shout out to my boyfriends blog http://aaronbyday.blog.com/ ! He will be posting about his experience with depression and anxiety very soon. Keep an eye out for it as his thoughts may help you!
Peace and love people!
Instagram - @gemmagarvey28
Twitter - @gemmagarvey_
Twitter - @gemmagarvey_