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What Is Anxiety Disorder?

Updated: Apr 14, 2020

Disorder, not the friendliest of words. You might have heard the term “anxiety attack” or “I just feel a little anxious” but what is anxiety disorder and how can it be treated?

I’ve been living with a severe anxiety disorder since I was 16 years old, it first became apparent to me when my boyfriend invited me on my first trip away with him. While travelling on the train, I became completely incoherent and I felt like I was coming apart at the seams; even though it was the last thing I wanted and absolutely not the impression I wanted to give during this huge fundamental period of our relationship, I abandoned my boyfriend in the carriage so I could stand in the walk away to be closer to the door. Luckily these feelings subsided but my lack of appetite stayed with me throughout the whole trip, something I would later experience on a daily basis as my anxiety rose.

As I got older my anxiety became more severe, until it reached a peak at university. A time of my life that was meant to be filled with adventure, new opportunities and endless parties were filled with a number of days I felt like I couldn’t leave the house, I avoided every trip I could and the ones I couldn’t avoid I would sweat through, purely from how tense I was throughout. I hated every second of those days, I had an anxiety disorder, there was no doubt.

I couldn’t tell anyone why I was afraid of course, I didn’t know myself. Every day I had a new challenge of “how am I going to get out of this”. The thing is an anxiety disorder is different for every person, there triggers will be different and getting to the route of those is a journey in itself.

As a disorder evolves and you learn more about what you are scared of, what is setting you off and how you can begin to overcome it. The most difficult thing in the world when you have an anxiety disorder is seeing other people getting on with their lives in a way you feel is impossible for you; you feel alone, I had support but there was always a feeling of “they can’t possibly understand” because how could they? I didn’t even understand. I knew I was missing out on so much, and it wasn’t my lack of wanting to do it, it was a that I couldn’t, I just couldn’t do it and that frustration in itself can make a disorder debilitating.

You might wonder how my story really helps you understand what an anxiety disorder is because understand the feelings associated to an invisible ailment is the best way to understand that if you are the one suffering, that you are not alone and for those who want to help someone else it’s a good start to know what’s going on in their head because I’m telling you “just calm down” and “you can do it” is not all that reassuring or helpful.

But in case you were curious of some common symptoms of anxiety:

  • Sweating

  • Raised heart rate

  • Shaking

  • Loss of appetite

  • Touching of the neck or chest

  • Fiddling with fingers

  • Sleepless nights

  • Needing to talk or not speaking at all

The range of symptoms can vary from person to person depending on their individual fears and how far into their recovery they are. My recovery began on a single day. I’d had enough, I couldn’t leave my bedroom, I wasn’t sleeping and there were occasions when I found myself having to call my roommate to come and sit with me in the night. Even though I’d been to the doctors on multiple occasions in the past but this time was different. I was at the door at 7 am waiting to be let in. The moment I was told my best chance of recovery was a series of medication I was to take daily and indefinitely until it was safe for me to come off them. In short, the decision of whether I stayed on medication would be made for me. This was the last straw; I cried the moment I got home. I was lucky enough to have my roommates to comfort me and it was that moment I decided any current medication including my birth control pill had to go! I had to give myself the best chance to cleanse my body and start afresh.

The lack of additional hormones and additional relaxation techniques have eased my symptoms and my life has stabilised. I will never rid myself of anxiety but unlike my darker days, my anxiety no longer controls me.

Every day is a challenge when you suffer from anxiety discover. A kind word or calming gesture of reassurance can go an extremely long way in turning what could be a bad day into a better one. The Discovery Journal is the type of gift I wish I'd have received during my worst days and it's for that reason I created it now because I hope my worst days are behind me but for some people, they are still living them! Find out more about the benefits of journaling and how it helped me overcome my darkest days in my next blog!

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