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Tips on Surviving Anxiety
Mental Disability is Common
It has come to my attention that it is becoming more and more common for people to have a mental illness, and that more people are speaking out about their mental illness publicly. Almost every single day I am seeing people on my newsfeed through Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram speaking about their daily struggles to their fellow peers. Although more people are open to the fact they have a mental illness, there are still many people out there that are too afraid to come out and just say that they do as well, and this is fully understandable. It is fully understandable to me because I am the exact same way. I am even feeling risky writing such an article on a website where people do not know who I truly am, or even my real name, I too have only select people in my personal life know that I have been living with OCD and Anxiety Disorder. No, this is not an article to create a sense of self-pity and reliance, this is an article to help build knowledge on the fact that people are not alone or to help people know how to handle these situations. But yes, I will be giving some personal information about my disability to help those that do live without one at least understand where I am coming from while I write this piece, and that seems like a good place to start.
My Life Living with a Disability
I would like to begin with the stereotype that OCD seems to carry. OCD is not about keeping things perfectly clean all the time. That is only a select part of OCD that not even everyone with the disability burdens. I am probably one of the messiest people in the world. My bedroom consists of clothes laying all over the floor although there is a hamper not even one metre away from anywhere I stand. Makeup scattered across my dresser with select jewelry here and there. Just because I have OCD does not mean that I have to keep my personal area perfectly tidy and clean.
I found out that I had OCD in the fifth grade when I expressed to my parents my fear of getting sick and my constant need to wash my hands until they were red and raw. From then on I saw a counsellor until the eighth grade. I still deal with OCD every day but it is not to the extent that it used to be. I was terrified of touching certain objects because I had this idea in my head that they were covered in some poisonous liquid that would kill me if I made contact with them. Objects that terrified me were batteries. I was constantly afraid that a battery may be leaking and every time I came into contact with one I immediately would run to wash my hands. Even to this day I still hesitate and give a battery a full look over before I decide to touch it. One of my favourite memories is my older brother touching a battery to his tongue to try to prove to me that they would not harm me. If that is not a loving sibling than I do not know what is.
Another aspect of my disorder was, and still is, the constant fear of getting sick with disease and illness. I have a never ending terror of thought about getting cancer. No matter how hard I try, I am almost constantly worrying. Of course I try to keep myself as busy as I can so that I do not have time to sit around and think about all of my worries which usually tends to work great for me, but no one can always be on the go. Any small tinge of pain I get in any part of my body I automatically think it is something more than just a simple body pain. This becomes a huge distraction when it comes to my school work because sitting through a boring three hour lecture gives you too much time to think, because who REALLY wants to listen for three hours? My worrying tends to come and go. In the summer I am usually fine because I am stress free, working a job I love, and busy playing recreational sports with good friends. But during the school year when I am piled up with school work and stress, my OCD likes to creep up on me and convince me that I am probably dying. It is absolutely horrible at times. My anxiety sometimes builds up to a point of snapping and I get stuck in an anxiety attack where my body, in a way, completely shuts down and breathing becomes almost unbearable. I would not wish those attacks upon anyone. My story about anxiety disorder, specifically OCD, is a continuing story because it is something I will be dealing with for the rest of my life. But, you get the gist.
The real point of this article is to express some simple things people can do for themselves if they are stuck in similar situations. Anxiety affects everyone whether it is small anxiety or large anxiety. The more it builds up, anyone is prone to an attack. Stress and anxiety have even caused certain people strokes. I want to help anyone try and avoid these awful situations.
What can you do to Help Yourself?
Not all of these ideas will work for everyone, but select ones may help different people. These are just ideas that I know work for me, so maybe they will help others too.
The most important way to help yourself is to realize when something or some environment is bothering you. If you are watching a television show and what the TV is showing you begins to bother you, and you feel yourself being bothered by it, you NEED to change the channel or leave the room. You have to be able to recognize when things are harming you mentally so that you can remove yourself from the current situation and avoid a messy situation of that feeling of anxiety creeping up on you while you are trying to sleep that same night. For example, sometimes when I am sitting with my friends or family they may begin a conversation on the topic of illness. Obviously these topics bother me so I will remove myself from the environment until they have a change of topic that I can feel comfortable being a part of. Get yourself out of situation you know upset you so it doesn’t affect you later on.
Talking to someone about these issues is never easy because people are afraid of judgement. Although it is hard to talk about, people tend to feel a million times better after they have talked to someone close about what is on their mind. Whether it is your therapist, your best friend, your significant other, or even your mother or father, try to talk to someone when you feel like something is upsetting you. I am not too fond of expressing when I begin to really worry that I may be sick with some disease, but after I talk to my mother/best friend/boyfriend about it, and they assure me I am fine, I can continue my day feeling much more relaxed and relieved. Venting is one of the best things to do for yourself, even social workers vent to another social worker after a session with someone to avoid stress later on.
If you are worrying about something, say that bump on your leg, avoid google. Googling symptoms is known to be one of the worst ideas because you will soon find out that you are dying, when in reality it is just a bug bite. If it is something really concerning you, contact your doctor. But please, avoid researching on your own because you will not feel better about anything from what the internet tells you.
Keep Yourself Busy:
One of the best things I do for myself is distracting myself. I like to keep my agenda busy with class, homework, studying, seeing friends, sports, singing, playing video games and even writing for Hubpages so that I am busy most of the time. At times this does get exhausting because you just want to sit down and relax for an evening, make sure you do that too! You can’t be busy 24/7 or you will just burn yourself right out. I keep myself busy just most of the time so that I do not have time to just sit around and think too much because that is when I begin to worry the most. Find a new hobby that is going to keep you entertained and keep your mind busy. In other words: keep busy but not too busy.
Go to your Happy Place:
This sounds extremely cliché and cheesy but it truly works. During those times you are not keeping yourself busy, or maybe you just do not like to be busy all of the time because you are more low key, sitting down and thinking about good, positive thoughts is so helpful. During my worst anxiety attack the way that I snapped myself out of it was by laying in a dark room breathing slowly and thinking about my upcoming vacation with my boyfriend. I thought about how fun it was going to be and all of the things we had planned to do and I was able to calm myself down and breathe normally again. Laying in a dark room and thinking about positive things, daydreaming about happy thoughts, or planning something fun in your head is a great way to keep your mind busy and yourself happy.
These are the techniques I use to help myself feel better in my worst times. They will not help every single person, but I am sure some people will benefit using the same ones.
Avoiding anxiety is one of the best things a person can do for themselves and their health. I hope that people will take recognition of their need to avoid anxiety in their lives because it will be a great benefit for them. For those people out there that have similar cases like me, you aren’t alone. There are so many people out there, people you may even know, that have similar cases and different forms of anxiety disorders. No one should ever feel ashamed for their disorder and feel as though they have to hide it from the world because they are afraid of mockery. For those people out there that do not have a disorder, if you know someone with one or one day someone confesses to you that they have one please, I beg of you, do not be ashamed of who they are as a person. Just because someone has a disorder does not mean that they should be oppressed by the rest of society because they are deemed as people who are different from the social norm that the media portrays. As doctor Seuss would say, “Don’t give up I believe in you all. A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
I am happy to answer any questions left in the comments or through email.