The Simple Truth About Anxiety
The simplistic truth about anxiety disorders
I am one of the ten percent of teenagers affected by anxiety and panic disorders. Forty percent of adults suffer from an anxiety disorder of some kind according to DOSomething.org, that's about nineteen-million people in the United States, alone, who have suffered from an anxiety disorder at least once in their lives. Anxiety is the most common mental illness and worldwide, 1 in 13 people suffer from this. Thirty percent of all teen girls are experiencing anxiety right now.
What is anxiety? Anxiety is characterized as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Symptoms are not limited to but include: Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness, Problems sleeping, Cold or sweaty hands or feet, Shortness of breath, Heart palpitations, Not being able to be still and calm, Dry mouth and Numbness. During my experience with anxiety I have at some point encountered all of these symptoms and more.
If you have experienced anxiety you know how scary it can get. Racing thoughts and heart palpitations would often leave me overwhelmed and exhausted. I had been rushed to the hospital seven times and called an ambulance once due to overwhelming feelings of panic. I was getting tired of doctors telling me there was nothing wrong with me when I knew there had to be. Then in November of 2018 I was diagnosed with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and panic disorder, just after being diagnosed with depression a few months earlier. I felt as though I wasn't myself and couldn't even control my own thoughts. When finally a month later, I got a grip of my anxiety. I felt so happy I could be myself again. Then one day in April as I was sitting in class, I started panicking out of nowhere, I went home early to collect my thoughts and when I returned the next day the panic had gotten much worse. I tried going back to school each day but the anxiety kept getting worse. As each day passed I would get more engulfed in anxiety and avoiding public places. That's when my parents decided to sign me up for therapy, regular doctor visits and anything they could to get me back on track. None of the solutions people were cramming down my throat seemed to work. I've tried everything from medications to fidget gadgets. Why weren't any of the techniques 'professionals' taught me, work?
Imagine anxiety as a pet tiger. Each time you feed you're pet tiger, it grows. Eventually when the tiger becomes an adult it will become hungrier, then when it was a cub. It will come back for food and you will give it to him because even though it's you're pet, you know it could easily kill you. Each time you feed the tiger, it gets bigger and more vicious. You no longer want this tiger as a pet because it's presence has become a burden on you're life. The tiger is now so hungry it wont let you leave the house because it needs food all the time and you fear for you're life. How does this analogy apply to anxiety? The tiger represents you're anxiety disorder and the food represents everything we have learned about subsiding our anxiety, from breathing exercises to everything in between. Feeding the tiger will make it go away for now but as it gets bigger, it also gets stronger. Everything we've been taught from ''remove negative thinking with positive thinking'' to ''just don't think about it'' is feeding the tiger. I learned this at an anxiety specialist out of Denver called Anxiety Solutions of Denver, when my new therapist gave me the analogy and answers as to why nothing has worked before I was relieved as though I felt someone was explaining something I never could, right in front of my eyes.
The healing process is going to be very difficult as I'm still going through it, myself but everything I've learned with my new therapist gives me hope. There's no way you can feed the tiger forever and you have to learn to accept it. Once you stop feeding the tiger and face it, it eventually dies and becomes a carcass that once terrified you, a feeling that comes on and is familiar but you no longer fear. This is the only way you can truly heal. Anxiousness is an emotion just as happiness but is feared and from a small age taught to be something that isn't "normal" the process of accepting an emotion you've feared for so long will get worse before it gets better, but you will heal in the long term instead of bandaging the short term.
A special thanks to Anxiety Solutions of Denver for working with me and teaching me everything I know to become a stronger individual.
The Biggest Misconception of Anxiety
The biggest misconception of anxiety is that it is easy to control. If you have an anxiety disorder of some kind and constantly hear advice such as "just breathe" or "calm down" is can make the attack much more overwhelming because it doesn't work and can often leave you feeling hopeless and not normal.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.