I haven’t gone through depression, but I go through severe anxiety. I know how thoughts can affect the way you think and feel. I know how the heart palpitates, how you run short of breath and how sometimes you feel nauseous as well as acid reflux. Moreover, I know the feeling of being judged for the way you look, for not being understood, and for having thoughts that make you a “negative” person.
After seeing two suicides 2 weeks ago, I realized we need to speak and educate people about Mental Health. I am going to write about Anxiety, the different types of it, the thoughts I go through and what could be done. Here are the different types of Anxiety:-
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
This is one of the most common types of anxiety. It is the feeling of being constantly on the edge, worried, anxious, stressed etc. both physically and mentally. This happens mostly without any reason. Most common problems include:- fatigue, restlessness, tense muscles, trouble concentrating on tasks or activities and obsessing over negative and anxiety causing thoughts.
2. Social Anxiety
Social anxiety is when the shyness is intense, and the idea of socializing or speaking with the public, strangers, or possibly even your friends causes you noticeable anxiety and fear. People with social anxiety view public situations as painful and distressing, they live with constant fear of being judged, observed and being avoided. They also have an irrational fear or being embarrased and doing something stupid.
3. Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is when you experience severe feelings of doom that cause both mental and physical symptoms that can be so intense that some people become hospitalized, worried that something is dangerously wrong with their health.
Agoraphobia is the fear of going out in public, either the fear of open spaces or the fear of being in unfamiliar places. Many people with agoraphobia either never leave their home, or do anything they can to avoid traveling anywhere other than their home and office. Some people can go to the grocery store or other familiar places but otherwise experience intense, nearly debilitating fear anywhere else.
5. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that comes after the traumatic event has occurred. Those living with PTSD often must get outside help, because PTSD can affect people for years after the event occurs – possibly even the rest of their life. PTSD affects people both psychologically and physically. Some symptoms include:- relieving the trauma, responding to triggers, emotional trouble etc.
6. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Those with OCD often exhibit behaviors and fears that are not only confusing to those around you but also confusing to the person with OCD as well.
7. Specific Phobias
Phobias are intense feelings of fear because of objects, scenarios, animals, etc. Phobias generally bring about disaster thinking or avoidance behaviors. Some examples include fear of spiders, blood, planes, thunderstorms etc.
These are the 7 main types of Anxiety. There are more types of anxiety such as Illness Anxiety Disorder i.e. Hypochondriasis (Obsession with the idea of having a serious but undiagnosed medical condition). There is also situational anxiety that is caused by new situations or changing events. For example, some people become uneasy in crowds or tight spaces, standing in a tightly packed line at the bank or a store register, may cause them to experience extreme anxiety, possibly a panic attack. Then there is death anxiety, “feeling of dread, apprehension or solicitude (anxiety) when one thinks of the process of dying, or ceasing to ‘be’, as described by one source. Then there is grief anxiety. Grieving people often feel that they have lost their sense of control in life, and they find themselves panicking or worrying excessively about what or whom else they could lose in the future. They also may have trouble sleeping or taking care of themselves, which can put them at higher risk for anxiety. The 5 stages include:- denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Now coming to my thoughts.
I faced my first anxiety attack when I was studying in KL. I had finished my exams so it should have been my happiest moment. But instead my heart started beating fast, I was running short of breath, and had nauseous feelings. My mood started to feel dull too. I went to the doctor the next day, did a health check-up, they said they found nothing abnormal, they said it was certain that it was anxiety. After that, I had anxiety for my difficulties, and anxiety without any reason too. I remember when it lasted for one month, and I was in my room the entire time. I only came out when I had to go to college or to get food.
GAD is what I have. Or otherwise free-floating anxiety. I heard its the body’s way of saying its a break. Maybe its because of all the difficulties I have faced in the past. I could handle it then, but those pain which I felt, came in the form of anxiety.
Along with GAD, I also have social anxiety. I have been bullied, cheated, left out by people, was constantly judged for who I was etc. To be honest, during those times, whenever people saw me, they would run away. I also lack communication skills due to my disability. Every time I have thoughts of embarrassing myself, saying something stupid, the fear that people will run away due to my personality, that I will be cheated. The fact that I say sorry all the time, even for the things I haven’t done, is also due to that.
After my mom’s death, all the anxieties increased even more. My main thought was, “I don’t want anything bad to happen.” For the first few months, I had death anxiety. The thought was I didn’t want to die all of a sudden, without seeing anyone, without doing the things I have desired to do, and most of all, not dying young. It came because I couldn’t see my mom before she died. Meditation helped me reduce this anxiety, and I could sleep properly.
I had met a lot of negative people during that time, and my social anxiety increased more. People didn’t accept me back then due to my disability, but I still had my mom, the strongest lady. And now she isn’t there, that brought more pressure to be accepted for who I was. I used to love singing for people as well, but then I shifted to singing just for myself, as I wasn’t ready for more negativity and the feeling of being judged.
I was grieving a lot. The 5 stages of grief turned into anxiety. The fact that I couldn’t see her before she left, that she got cancer at a young age despite being healthy and despite not having a history, got me anxious, thinking how unpredictable life is. Went through each of the five stages, but with the last stage i.e acceptance, this reduced too.
At the start of this year, I was going through some hypochondria conditions. I couldn’t help but worry about my health. Every small health issue I had faced made me think that it was something worse like cancer. I became very controlling of my food habits. My thought was, now that I have a history, I should make sure that I don’t get it. But soon that also went away.
I already spoke about the physical effects such as heart palpitations, running short of breath, nausea, acid reflux etc. I became very sick last summer. I felt better when I realized that my stress and anxiety were causing this.
But its not impossible to manage. I go for counseling once in two weeks. I meditate every day, or once in two days. I go to the gym 3-5 days a week. I have reduced my caffeine intake. I drink chamomile tea once in two days. All of these help me control my anxiety. However, anxiety isn’t something that will go away. As soon as there is a trigger moment, you get the symptoms again. Hence doing these things are a must.
My positivity, strength, hope and determination got me this far and I am grateful that I have these traits that help me sail through.
I am writing this to help change the stigma. We are often judged by the way we look, and by the fact that we don’t look “depressed” or “anxious”. Sometimes you don’t know what the other is going through. You need to be kind to everyone you meet. Go to them instead of telling them to come to you.
Schools, colleges and work places have the most stressful environment. I read that artists and musicians have the highest number of anxiety, depression and suicide rates. None of these places have a proper counseling center. Not a lot of them are educated about it. From my personal experience, I had to wait because according to them, my issue wasn’t serious. Hence I looked for counsellors outside, and its working.
I also wanted to say one more thing. Due to my anxiety, I may have unintentionally hurt a lot of people. I just want to apologize for being a bad friend due to that. Its that fear of being cheated, bullied and left off. I know that not everyone is evil, but it takes a while for me to come back to my senses. I hope you all understand me. If you can, be by my side, if not, I understand.
My break is helping me in slowly getting there.
Oh and did I say please take a break when needed?
Overall, Mental Health is real. Let’s be loving and caring towards each other. Let’s be understanding.