Anxiety Battles

Anxiety has consumed a lot of my life in the past year or the past week or past month, maybe, honestly at this point – I can’t tell or remember the difference. It often feels like the same miserable, self-pitying feeling you get when you have a cold. When you’re full of the flu and your nose is blocked, you lie there in bed surrounded by tissues with the stark realization you didn’t damn well appreciate what it was like when you didn’t have a blocked nose and sore throat. Except at the moment I feel like I’m stuck in an occasional limbo of nostalgically looking back to whenever I felt full of confidence, hope and positivity. I earn some days and nights for the last time I went outside and didn’t have intense paranoia about random possible scenarios that had a 1 to 1000 chance of happening or harrowing discomfort whenever a stranger looked slightly in my direction. The nauseating bubbles in my stomach or the tension headaches from staying up with my mind buzzing of ‘what ifs’ and ‘hey what if this happens?’ or ‘what if this thing you think negatively of yourself is true?’ is so draining and not in the way where maybe I’ll get a good nights sleep when I finally hit the pillow because lately it’s been at least an hour or two sometimes before my mind will calm down enough to let me sleep.

Now you’re probably thinking, hey Helena where are you going with this? Is this meant to be a story of anxiety struggles but something marvelous has happened and it has a happy ending? Is this a set up for a post to give advice about anxiety where you act as if you know how to handle it when really you’re probably the least tactful person when dealing with your own anxiety? Is this really a sneaky review for something? Honestly, this is just a chat. From me to computer screen to whoever may feel like reading. If you’ve made it this far, I commend you. The past few nights and especially after watching a video on Youtube, which I’ll mention in a bit, I’ve considered expressing my struggles, my aspirations, my ideas and my hopes and goals a lot more through my blog. It’s almost egotistical in some senses but maybe this will benefit me, maybe this’ll benefit someone else, maybe there’ll be one word or phrase in something that I word-vomit onto this blog that could speak to someone. Two of my current goals in life that I feel that I, honestly, need to do better at is – a) Looking after myself more and b) Looking out for others and helping others more.

Kindness and empathy are two traits I think are so important in day-to-day life and in the world we live in at the moment. I absolutely adore reading stories of people doing random acts of kindness, people setting up charities and movements that they personally run to help others, people creating art and media to inspire others and reflect a positive mental attitude. It’s something that gives me hope and lately I’ve needed hope really badly. On some nights it feels like I’ve been housing a nocturnal, pessimistic demon in my brain who likes to send my brain into a spiral as I’m trying to sleep and the funny thing is, is how I don’t feel I’ve ‘given in’ to this demon at all because deep down I want so much good for the world, I want to be an activist, I want to create things, I want to actively work towards helping others even if its small things like smiling at someone or being there for them when they feel a bit down, or making people baked goods just to see them smile – I want to do better, I want to be the ‘change you wish to see in the world’ and all that cliché, but the catch is my anxiety is almost weighing me down with opposing negative thoughts. Because of my anxiety I feel so much fear, distrust and fatigue. I feel so nervous around other people, I feel so nervous about doing new things, I feel so nervous that going out of my comfort zone will end up with me hurt, people I love hurt or embarrassment or a bigger knock in confidence. Sometimes I feel like I do not trust anyone and my anxiety makes me think everyone is out to get me or doesn’t like me unless proven otherwise.

The video I watched that randomly stirred a new feeling of being absolutely sick and done with this anxiety was weirdly a Markiplier video. Now if you don’t recognise that name, he’s a big youtube name who does gaming videos mostly but has also done quite a lot of charity work and I believe is working on an interactive project? I’m not engrossed enough to know completely but essentially the video I watched is Mark discussing ‘pain’, what some of the worst ‘pain’ he’s been in his life has been and how it’s changed him and changed his perspective. What stuck out to me is how he talked about after having quite a horrible doctor during painful recovery after surgery how a lot of his family were telling him to sue but he talks about how he never wants to be a ‘revengeful’ person even if he feels like he can be quite spiteful. He talks about how if you only ever use anger as a release for stuff, it’s going to be very toxic and damaging to yourself and it spoke to me because lately, especially during at university, I’ve had so many occasions when either things have gone wrong, people have upset me or taken advantage of me and all I’ve felt is anger and stress. Both at other people and then after trying to teach myself to understand other people’s perspectives and take responsibility, I’ve been angry at myself and when you get to that point, there’s never really any letting go of that completely. So now, yes I’m pissed off at my anxiety for how much it’s drained me and taken over my life, my perspectives and my attitudes towards things, but I want to teach myself how to not get so stressed about things, especially when they go wrong.

Being angry is completely valid. Being upset is completely valid. When people hurt you or let you down, you have every right to be upset. What I wish to learn though is how to make that passage or journey after something like that so less stressful and draining. I want to learn how to not let stuff like that be extra building blocks for the walls my anxiety puts up. I want to learn how to feel something, feel the feelings I am allowed to feel as a human, but then communicate with people who care about me and take the steps and responsibility to not let it break my confidence down but instead learn from it, distance myself from the pain and carry on. I don’t want anxiety to be my definition or control parts of my life.

So I don’t really have any happy ending or resolution for all this but that’s kind of how living with anxiety can be, isn’t it? Some times you will actually feel a release or something will happen and you’ll be told by others how much ‘better you’re doing’ and you think ‘Wow, I’ve done it, I’ve beaten anxiety’. But the reality is sometimes it’ll come back and come back hard and honestly that’s what I’m going through right now. I hope maybe as time goes by, I’ll be able to figure out how to live with it and accept it.

 

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Dealing with the world when you feel too small to do anything: part 2 of ?

A weird thing I sometimes do when it’s late at night and I’m having a case of bad anxiety or even if I can feel a small bubble of nervousness in my tummy is make a cup of herbal tea and a bowl of dry cereal. I’m a weird person in which I’ve never liked milk on cereal (unless it’s a chocolate cereal like Weetos – that’s an exception) so the dry cereal isn’t really out of the ordinary to me except that I’m sat at my computer at midnight or even later nibbling on cheerios and feeling a little bit more jittery than usual. But for some reason a dry, carb-y food like a bowl of cereal calms me a little bit.

I didn’t want these series of posts to come out of writing when I’m anxious but they feel a lot more genuine when I do because not only does writing them calm me down but I honestly feel I can express my points or give my advice better when I can imagine what any other person feeling anxious like me might even slightly feel like. That’s the thing with some anxious moments or days – once they’ve passed the experience can be quite fuzzy in our minds and they don’t feel as severe as they did when you try and explain them later. I always had this problem with explaining anxiety to my counsellor, in my worst anxiety attacks I’d feel so much but then a week later when a counsellor asked me to tell them how I feel I wouldn’t be able to comprehend all the feelings and physical symptoms I felt.

In this post, I don’t want to dwell on what’s gotten me in this anxious mood but I wanted to share some more tips on what to do when you’re like this. Last time I mostly focused on how to bring ourselves out of it. To close the story/tab/media that was making us anxious, to talk our feelings through out loud or to a friend and not feel guilty for removing ourselves from whatever is inducing our anxiety, anger or upset. This time I want to give you some tips on easing that ‘there is nothing I can do’ feeling. The hopelessness feeling. Especially if you are insistent on wanting to do something.

  1. Embrace this feeling and remember this is a positive trait.

I can’t remember when I found this post via Tumblr but it’s a post that has stuck with me for a good while and I think it’s extremely important.

“you all have a little bit of ‘I want to save the world’ in you, that’s why you’re here.”

Now the whole quote from the writer is to do with being in college but I think the trait is very applicable to almost anyone. If you have a little bit of ‘I want to save the world’ in you, it is something you should be extremely proud of. You need to embrace this feeling and remember you are one of the people this world definitely needs. Everybody should have this feeling in them because this world needs more empathy and kindness. In this day and age, social media makes it so easy for the negative, terrifying and apathetic voices to take over and be the mascot for the world. Remember that doesn’t speak for everyone. If you feel like you can’t find any kind people. Be that kind person.

2. Try and find petitions to sign.

This is honestly a thing I do and although I realise maybe it could be pointless or the very bare minimum of contributing to a protest for something, it is a small way of pushing for a step in the right direction. For some petitions, people made them personally wanting to fight for something and to add onto the many signatures they’ve already got I feel like I have contributed even in a small way and it makes me feel like I’ve done something. The petition websites I trust include Change.org and Parliament’s petition website but even if I find a petition I feel is important to sign but don’t feel comfortable signing it’s ok because you shouldn’t increase your anxiety. If you need to make a backup email for petitions then do that or only sign petitions that don’t request postcodes.

3. Spread awareness on your social media

Now the important thing with this tip is not falling for the dodgy, non-reliable articles that may have even caused your anxiety in the first place. If you find a petition for an important cause, share it on Facebook or Twitter to see if your friends sign it too. If there is a vote coming up soon, make sure to share information on how to register to vote and polling station rules on your social media to encourage others to vote. The important thing about this step is that you are spreading awareness to stories or also giving people ideas on what to do to work towards a better future so you are doing something towards it. (On some social media there are add-ons to blacklist certain topics so, on Instagram, Tumblr or Twitter maybe tag any articles you share if you are worried about upsetting any anxiety in your friends!)

4. Look into volunteering or groups you can join to be active

Now, this tip might not be for everyone or even possible for everyone due to everybody having different lives. Some people might not have the spare time or money to volunteer or some people may feel too anxious or uncomfortable to join a group of strangers but if you feel you want to do something active towards a kinder, nicer future – try looking into volunteering or groups! If you are on the political side and want to contribute to a party you believe in there is a lot of opportunities for supporters in the UK to do so, I think it’s also quite easy in Universities where there will be societies like Labour societies or Green party societies. If your anxiety sits somewhere in environmental, maybe google to see if there are litter-picking/beach clean up groups to join. Perhaps if you just, in general, want to contribute to being a better person look into volunteering at an animal sanctuary, charity shops, brownies/scouts groups or at a youth group! Do-It is a great website to try and find volunteering opportunities near you!

Finally, my last point I want to make, much like the last post, is don’t feel stressed with yourself or guilty and take your time. The main lesson here is that we want to relieve your anxiety and move past it because you need to let your body and brain realise it can’t do a million things at once, it can’t save the world and the world does not rest on your shoulders individually. You are just a person. You are only human. Even doing small things one step at a time is doing something and working towards a better future and you shouldn’t push yourself any harder than that and you should listen to your body. When you are feeling drained or overwhelmed remember to take a break and relax. Do not feel guilty.

I hope everyone enjoyed this one and has picked up even one or two tips from it.

Thank you for reading and have a lovely week,

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Dealing with the world when you feel too small to do anything: part 1 of ?

So it’d be a lie if I said the world isn’t having it’s dark moments lately. Everyone knows what and who I mean. Tyrant leaders, governments falling apart and showing instability, cuts to things that are there to help people live normally, environmental problems, every day there will be a sad news story and at least every month it seems something bad happens.

I decided to start writing this post and maybe possibly turn it into a series of posts, because I know what it’s like to be paralyzed at your computer or phone in fear and scared by the news. The way my anxiety goes about it normally goes like this: I check twitter, I’ll go on the moments and if something dramatic has happened in either the world or politics, I will click on it and read the usual news websites (BBC, Guardian etc.) that come up first. Then I will go onto the tabloids that aren’t known to be trustworthy but in my state of anxiety my brain is believing anything and wants to know every corner of the situation in case it can find something to calm itself down, this goes on and on as people’s comments come in and the situation is drawn out and escalated – people argue, people bring up other things to prove their point, people have conspiracies and different theories and it all vigourously whirls around my brain like a tornado and I normally end up in a state of sitting, physically shaking at my computer, feeling like I’m about to throw up and feeling absolutely helpless and unsafe.

And yet every natural disaster, every terrorist attack, every dodgy thing a world leader does, every joke/meme about the apocalypse, even obvious propaganda – the cycle of anxiety starts. People close to me know about this and the answers I get always dwell to ‘don’t read it/stop reading it/turn your phone off and distract yourself.’. When I’m in my state of anxiety, I’m convinced keeping up to date with not only the story, but every randomers comment on Twitter or response to news articles, is somehow keeping me safe? That whilst my body is in flight or fight mode, that somehow keeping my brain focused on what’s making me panic is preparing my body for any danger. Yes, even over random tweets of politicians arguing about how they feel about Brexit or such. Hell, I’ll admit even the recent satire, comedy Sacha Boran Cohen has released ‘This is America’ (which despite what I’m about to say, I strongly recommend everyone watches it) left me in a spiral because in his show his extremist, pro-gun character he puts on manages to get people in Congress to admit they think arming young children would be a good idea? It’s bloody smart because it’s showing the world the true attitude of these people who are in great power but it left me in a spiral because I felt helpless that there’s nothing I could do to further expose these people or maybe even do anything to push their careers to a deserving downfall? I was scared about how people in the US government think.

But, I know deep down, it is not healthy nor safe to do this to myself. It is also not good for me or anyone around me to just give in and give up. To become a shell of complete pessimism and hopelessness, especially now. And I know there is plenty of people who may not fall into absolute anxiety and panic attack frenzy like I do, but will see news stories and fall back to ‘why care anymore’ attitudes – I can’t explain how sad or cringy it makes me feel when I’ve seen people say they’re not voting because ‘there is no point’, or claim protests ‘don’t do anything’. I remember once I called out an old friend back in high school on littering and she just said to me ‘who cares global warming is happening anyways’. It breaks my heart and spirit. But I refuse to give up completely, I want to help anyone who ever feels like this. I want to give even the smallest bit of hope to someone. I want to encourage people to try and fight the negativity because we need it. Our mental health definitely needs it. Sure, we can’t change the world completely but one day all of our little actions might and what I suggest now might help someone sleep better tonight and better on days when the news just seems like a complete rainstorm.

What I say doesn’t even have to be necessary for being anxious by the news. It’s meant to be for helping you deal with reading scary things online and dealing with a feeling of hopelessness. Whether you’re reading the news, whether you saw something your friends posted online that has made you feel sad, whether something happened to you that has made you feel like it is the worst day in the world. Don’t give in to the hopelessness feeling.

  1. Step away from the computer, put the phone down or close the tab.
    That weird saying of describing something as ‘being like a car crash but you’re unable to look away’ is definitely true and it can be relevant to anything. In my case, bad world/political/environment news or maybe even obviously trash comments online. I start reading something I know from the get-go will upset me but I keep reading and reading and scrolling and I can’t look away even though I know I won’t get full closure because social media is a big, endless hole of different personalities, fake personalities, trolls, fake news, exaggerations and stories. But what you need to do right now is close the tab. Whether it’s an article proving how disappointing our country leader is or that your crush has put themselves as in a relationship on Facebook. You need to close it and take a deep breath. You’re allowed to do this.
  2. Message someone to talk out your anxiety or even just talk it through with yourself out loud.
    Your anxiety and demons can sometimes yell over you and you feel very out of control but when you start to talk your thoughts through, rant, or label what of your thoughts is irrational or unhelpful it can really help you calm down and move on maturely. I always find myself doing it when I tell my mum something has made me scared or anxious. I’ll find myself going ‘then again, that news article can’t be entirely true because of X fact’ or if it’s a personal situation ‘then again this person might not have invited me out because of X reason not because they don’t like me?’. The irrational thoughts and jumps to conclusions start to fade a bit once you talk it out. If you don’t feel comfortable going to someone, I even find it helpful to talk to myself out loud just to hear something and calm myself down.
  3. Put on something funny, heart-warming or silly.
    A cliche tip but it does help. One fun story from when I was younger, my mum tried to tell me about a space story of solar flares or something along those lines and I was too scared to let her explain the story because when I googled it, those predictable conspiracy theories that ‘this solar flare will cause the world to end’ came up like they do every space story. Obviously the moral here, I should have let my mum talk it out to me and calm my anxiety down (I was 13 here, I’ve learnt to deal with my anxiety better since) but what I did was not sleep (stupidly) but to distract myself I watched tons of reruns of Mock the Week and comedy quiz shows until I fell asleep and a day or so later I had calmed down enough to look it up again and realise they were harmless.
    So stick on your favourite movie, stick on a tv show that makes you cry laughing, even google videos of positive stories or funny stories to remind you of the good stuff in the world, play a game without violence or gore in it (or do if that doesn’t agitate anxiety/bad feelings), listen to upbeat music and see if it helps!
  4. Finally, do not feel guilty for needing to look after yourself and consider how to deal with this anxiety
    If like me, this is a common place thing that happens a lot or you find yourself having literally paralysing anxiety like I do just from looking at social media or going online – consider maybe looking into help for your anxiety because I don’t believe(I’m no expert) it is normal at all. It is normal to feel sadness and fear from bad news or from stuff that goes wrong but paralysing anxiety is not normal.
    Secondly, and I need to physically remind myself of this too, do not feel bad for taking time out for yourself or taking a break from Twitter or Facebook. A lot of misinformation gets shared on there and you need to remind yourself now that politicians, celebrities, journalists, world leaders and even just regular people can share their opinions and views online and claim it as facts and if it is causing your mental health to drain you need to separate yourself from it for a bit. If you were holding a burning pan that was burning your hand you would need to let go. This is a similar thing. I always get anxious that maybe trying to distract myself means I’m being ignorant or ‘turning a blind eye’ but you need to remember – as long as you acknowledge something needs to change and that things aren’t all howdy-doody. That there are bad things and views in the world – you aren’t being ignorant.

 

I do want to write more of these posts, to share how to invest in positive news, how to make small changes, share some good causes when I find them and suggest things for myself and others to do but for now I will leave you with that. Just some simple things to remember to start bringing yourself out of the hopelessness feeling.

Go and get yourself a glass of water and stick a funny movie on.

Thank you for reading,

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You do not decide the world that lives inside my brain

Sometimes in my life my anxiety causes me to not feel that I am really inside my head. Sometimes I feel like something that is watching a human walk around and I try to help it make decisions but sometimes it just zones out and isn’t completely present. This is called dissociation and it is an experience where you feel separate from your body and your sense of identity and thoughts, as well as the way you view the world and yourself change quite drastically. Sometimes when I get into these weird states where I don’t feel 100% there I find it harder to remember memories or even mix up memories that are other peoples or sometimes I’ve noticed recently when I have realistic dreams I sometimes believe these are actual things that happened way in the past. For example I had a dream one of my friends had a tooth growing out of their gum, as if they were having their final adult tooth growing through or something along that lines and I feel like I can remember avidly them telling me they had toothache and pulling up their upper lip to show me it. However a few weeks later when I asked them about their tooth apparently that never happened and their gums were normal.

In these states my anxiety can be a real struggle as well, you don’t feel right about your identity, you worry that people think different of you than what you want to believe, you are worried that your interests and what you like might come across as fake or false or even in really  bad  states I even feel that I don’t have a personality at all. But at the end of the day my anxiety and struggles make me. They help me grow as a person and coming to terms with them and being able to sit back and go ‘no your worries don’t define you, you have these personality traits that make you lovable’.

Growing up it was definitely not that easy to accept how sensitive I was to comments about my personality, choices, thought processes or dreams. When I got to the age of picking my GCSEs, I excitedly dragged my mum to the GCSE Art stall to discuss what doing the GCSE was like and the head of art turned around and said that I shouldn’t do it. That I wouldn’t be able to handle it and I would not pass it. Yet here I am, I passed GCSE Art and passed my college course of Art and Design with a DMM Grade (D being Distinctions, M’s being Merits. These are almost like A’s and B’s in A Level Terms).  I am proud of my younger self for not letting the teacher’s words cut me to the core although the amount of times I’d sit at home over my work and cry cause I didn’t think art was right for me. I will continue being strong like my younger self was during that time and not let people tell me what and what I shouldn’t do with my dreams and ambitions.

People who do not know you and the world set out in your mind cannot dictate what you are here on earth for. This post is a reminder for everyone struggling with identity struggles, personality struggles or anxiety. This is for anyone who is trying to decide what to study in University and their peers are telling them to go towards other areas of study yet something else feels right in your head. If you feel drawn towards Science, you go for that Science course – you know yourself better than anyone else knows you.

Today I was having a really bad case of anxiety attacks and symptoms whilst I was at work and whilst putting back some baskets a customer approached me and asked me for some help. She asked if I could recommend a product to cover a hole in her garden. I was hired for the job of working on checkouts at my current job so I advised this lady that I did not have training in homeware or gardenware and that I would go and get someone to help. After running all the way to customer service, unable to find anyone that wasn’t busy and ran back to her. When I told her she turned around and went “No. No. You people are supposed to know this stuff, you are hired to help me.”.

So to this customer and anybody else who thinks I am supposed to know certain things to aid them.
I have a name.
I am a person.
I am not ‘you people’.
I am hired to help as much as I possibly can and to help the store make money.
I am not here for you. I am here for myself.
I am here to learn and gain experience so I can go to University.
I will not let your rude attitude define me and define why I was put here in this store.

I am Helena and I am here on earth to make my dreams happen. I am here to gain happiness and education. I am here in this job because I want to work and earn experience and income so I can go to University and travel.

 

Thanks for reading,
Helena