I think back to when I was first discussing my depression with the Early Childhood Nurse and she asked if I had anxiety – I said ‘no, I didn’t think so’. If she had replaced the word ‘anxiety’ with ‘worry” – I would have said ‘yes, ALOT!’. Anxious and Anxiety just wasn’t in my vocabulary. Looking back now it’s so clear to me how anxious I was. I was living in a constant state of hightened anxiety. I still am now – I’m just learning to recognise it and ways to handle it.
My anxiety can be really overwhelming at times. I find it hard to talk or move, my heart races and I feel sick. Since giving birth I have found my anxiety has increased dramatically, it feels as though there is danger everywhere. I guess it makes sense though, when you are now responsible for another human that you want to be on guard for any threats.
Everyone experiences anxiety in different ways and for different reasons. There are common ways that your body reacts, such as an increased heartbeat, shaking, headache, sick feeling in your stomach, dry mouth, lightheaded, to name a few.
I’ve learnt feeling anxious is a completely natural reaction and can be helpful. It’s a defence mechanism to help you survive stressful situtations. It’s called the flight, flight or freeze response. For example, the fight response could be to yell at your partner when they accuse you of doing something that you haven’t. Flight, would be to run in the opposite direction as the threat, in everyday life this could result in avoiding situations or leaving early because you feel uncomfortable. Or the freeze response could kick in when you go into a test situation and get a total mind blank. The problem comes when this mechanism is in overdrive and leads you to believe everything is a threat.
There are ways to lessen the power of the anxious feelings you have. I’ve learnt many techniques which I am going to write about in this blog. The first is 5 things, which is a handy tool you can use anywhere to bring you back into the moment.
It can also be useful to look at the situation afterwards and really try to work out the root of your anxiety. This can be helpful to see that the situation is safe and the likelihood of something going wrong is not very high. This is the beauty of hindsight but by taking the time to look at the situation, we take steps to stop it from being so powerful the next time it happens.
I am on a long road to working with my anxiety and getting a better grip on it by understanding why it’s happening. Good luck if you’re on this road too.