The Mighty

Mental illness probably never crosses a healthy person’s mind on a regular basis. Unless someone they personally know struggles with some form of it, they may never think about it at all. By not being aware of these problems, mentally healthy people also usually lack sensitivity towards the subject.

Recently, there was a day that I believe was called something along the lines of “Mental Health Awareness Day”. Which is awesome, I didn’t even know there was such a day of the year but it kind of make me feel good to log onto my social media accounts and see both the affected and unaffected people post about mental health awareness. That day is when I discovered this page called The Mighty which is about literally nothing but mental health awareness and a support group for affected peoples. There was this video about what High Functioning Anxiety looks like to those who don’t know what they are looking at. It talked about how it can be masked as preparedness or organization. Then it said when it gets out of hand it can be seen in nervous habits like nail biting, ect. It made me feel so GOOD that there were people out there who actually GOT it. They totally know what it is like to struggle with generalized anxiety day to day.

So, I super encourage everyone to go check that page out. Especially unaffected people would benefit from checking it out because I guarentee you, you know someone that is battling mental illness even if you are unaware of it.

Also, it is not just for anxiety, but that is obviously what speaks to me the most so that is the perspective I am sharing.

I am keeping this short and sweet tonight but I really hope someone can benefit from me sharing this site.

Hugs Always,

Miss lessanxiouslife 

The Third Step: Battling Your Anxiety Disorder

In The First Step I explained how important it is to get to the bottom of the causation of your anxiety problem. Where does it all stem? Is it biological in nature, rooted in a traumatic experience, or a little bit of both? The Second Step is all about becoming more familiar with your anxiety triggers and discovering healthier ways to handle them. Now we have come to the third step! (Who knows how many there will end up being, but I feel like we are making some nice progress here).

The Third Step is all about building a support system. And I can not stress enough how important this part is. All of these Steps are designed to build on one another, and if you never create a support system for yourself you may as well declare “I’m tired of making progress with my mental health, I think I’m going to stop here.” But I don’t think you are the kind that is going to do something rash like that, otherwise what are you doing on my site?

Sarcasm aside, I do stress the fact that creating a support system can be a scary or uncomfortable experience for many individuals. As people with anxiety disorders, we tend not to be the best at putting our trust in others. It feels unnatural, scary, or feels as if it places power over yourself in the hands of someone else. Well, it can be uncomfortable, especially if you don’t particularly make it commonly known that you suffer from an anxiety condition, but overall, it is the best thing ever to have a group that knows what you are going through and is available to talk with you about how you are feeling if you ever want to; even if it is just one person.

Personally, my support group pretty much just consists of two people; my significant other and a close friend. I might at any time choose to add someone else into my support group, but for now these two wonderful people provide everything that I could ever need from them. My friend also suffers from an anxiety disorder, and while it is fairly different from my own, she is still someone who can genuinely say she knows how I am feeling and where I am coming from on a lot of the things we discuss. THAT is a pretty amazing thing. If you are a fairly private person, I whole heartedly push you to open up about what you are going through enough to find someone else who you share a common ground with. There have been countless times when I have called my friend when I have felt an anxiety attack coming on and she literally stops what she is doing to talk me through it because she herself knows how it feels to go through one. And there have been numerous times when I have been there to support her through anxiety, and that has created an extremely powerful bond between us. And while my significant other does not have any sort of anxiety condition he is extremely patient with me and he even researches on his own how to better help me when I am feeling particularly anxious. What more could I ever ask for?

In short, there is no right “amount” of people that should make up your support group. Even if you only have one person to go to, that is wonderful. And there is nothing “specific” that they need to offer you, as long as you get something positive and healthy out of it. My friend offers me someone to go to who actually understands what I am feeling and my significant other is someone who pours effort into better understanding me, learning about my condition, and pushing me to make more and more lifestyle changes to help my anxiety; my “motivator” in a way. And for now, that is all I need.

Reach out to friends, reach out to your family, reach out to people you never even thought of reaching out to before until you finally have found your support group. Tackling anxiety isn’t easy, but it sure isn’t any easier trying to face it alone. Again, it might be somewhat uncomfortable to open up about something so private and something that unfortunately in our society is kind of taboo, but had I never told my friend that the pills she saw me take during a night out were my daily anxiety medication, (I could have just as easily said they were painkillers for a headache), then she never would have given me a huge hug and confided in me that she too had a diagnosed anxiety condition.

Start with just one person and go from there. And as always, as you are building your support group, give me feedback on how your progress is going through Twitter or my email.

 

Hugs and Positive Vibes,

Miss lessanxiouslife 

The Second Step: Battling Your Anxiety Disorder

As the second installment in the series Steps to Battling Your Anxiety Disorder, this post aims to dig a little deeper into understanding your personal struggle with anxiety. In The First Step, we explored possible causation of your anxiety problems. This post will discuss common anxiety and panic triggers in the hopes that this part of our journey will help you discover your own anxiety triggers, because once you become aware of them, you have the power to change their effect on you. 

There is a huge misconception in society about anxiety disorders. We tend to be lumped into one large group despite how enormously different each anxiety condition is; and within that how vastly different any given disorder can present itself from person to person. That is a huge problem. This general assumption that we are “all alike” can hinder our own progress into becoming better at coping with our conditions.

In order to combat this, we all need to take The Second Step in our journeys in having a less anxious life, which is finding and understanding our unique personal triggers that worsen our anxiety. 

The Second Step:

As previously stated, The Second Step is finding and understanding our anxiety triggers. However, this step can be taken multiple different ways, and may include smaller steps, but as long as at the end of this process we have a better understanding of ourselves, then we have succeeded.

Do not become fixated on the idea that there is one ideal path in accomplishing this Step, that defeats the idea that we are individuals, with individual thoughts and feelings. In fact, this Step may be one of the ones where there is more variation from person to person than the rest that will follow in this series. And that is perfectly okay!

Start taking daily “Anxiety Inventories”

What is an “Anxiety Inventory” and how do I use it to help me? This just means that you are actively monitoring your anxiety levels throughout the day and taking note of it. I mean I literally want you to PHYSICALLY take down notes on how you feel throughout the day. It can be as minimal as typing a quick blurb into the Notes app on your phone. As long as you are noting what you are doing and how you are feeling then your Anxiety Inventory is adequate. Look for patterns of actions you are doing when your anxiety levels are heightened; this is a really strong sign you have found one of your triggers.

Its also really important to know going into this that anxiety triggers are usually not obvious. That is why using an Anxiety Inventory in the beginning of your progress is so important. As I shared in my introductory post, I have a diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder with intermittent panic episodes. With a diagnosis that is as general (*pun*), my triggers are likely not the triggers of someone else with the same diagnosis. As stated above, triggers vary hugely from person to person.

Through taking my own Anxiety Inventories I have come up with the following personal triggers so far:

  • Drinking more than one caffeinated drink a day
  • Plans or schedules that change multiple times
  • Running errands for more than a few hours
  • Heavy traffic/Stop-and-go traffic

If I hadn’t started closely monitoring my feelings throughout the day (and for about two weeks) I never would have noticed the patterns that trigger me to become more anxious. I usually am a three shots of espresso (one Starbucks latte) per day type person. And have been for years. I am really used to that level of caffeine but if I drink multiple cups of coffee it causes me to become really jittery and on edge. This is something that never happened to me pre-diagnosis, but does now that I have developed this condition. Which leads me to my next point, Your triggers may be things that never upset you or caused you stress before, and they can change at any time. As for the rest of my triggers, they tend to go along with the fact that I am a Type A person. I like to know exactly how my day is going to go, and unplanned for or unseen events make me anxious. It can even be as simple as my partner saying he wants to go to one store to buy an item, but then drags me to two stores afterward. The unplanned trips and unplanned use of time has (and still often does) caused me to have a panic episode.

If I wasn’t taking these inventories to look for these patterns, it may seem that I was just having a random panic episode, with no correlation to what I had done that day. But for me, that usually isn’t the case. I now know that my panic episodes are usually always caused by something, which gives me the power to do what I can to avoid them. 

This isn’t to say that some anxiety attacks don’t happen randomly, but you can reduce the likelihood of having triggered ones significantly.

I now know that I should keep a planner with me so I can map out the schedule for my week to reduce the likelihood of unplanned events. I limit myself to one cup of coffee, or go half-caff on the second one if I desperately need another. I can’t always do much about traffic, but I can try to avoid roads and interstates during rush hour times, or take less populated routes to get to my destination.

This is where things may get a little different.

Each of us will need to play around and experiment with ways we can better handle our triggers once we find them. Some of us will have to plan better, some may have to use avoidance, and that is fine as long as it is done in a healthy manner. Your Anxiety Inventory may also take much longer than a few weeks, and that is fine as long as you stick to taking regular Inventories so you have plenty of notes to look back on.

All of this has helped me significantly. I encourage you to take down your own Anxiety Inventories every day for at least two weeks to look for patters for your own triggers.

Please, please always feel free to email me or comment to give me feedback on how your progress is going.

Remember, we are all on our own journeys together. 

Hugs and Positive Vibes,

Miss lessanxiouslife

 

The First Step: Battling Your Anxiety Disorder 

As stated in the introductory post about my personal battle with anxiety, there isn’t a clear cut reason as to why I should become a voice for this issue. As a matter of fact, there are a couple of reasons why I should not:

  • don’t have a psychology degree.
  • haven’t suffered from this condition for years.
  • What has worked well for me so far may not work well for you.

However there is one reason why maybe everyone should at least give what I have to say a try: I am literally figuring this out as a go along. Just like many of you. And I am ready to try ANYTHING to help, and to share my experiences with you. 

And if you are going to start this journey with me, the best place to start is the beginning.

The First Step:

The first step in improving your quality of life when living with any variety of anxiety disorder, is to explore the root, or causation, of your condition. 

As I said for me, my condition is biological in nature. My brain either has a very hard time recognizing its own serotonin (happy chemical), or it either just has a very naturally low or non existent production of this in the first place.

With a biological-based condition like mine, sometimes you can only be offered this “Chicken or the Egg” scenario. 

This scenario more often leads to clinical depression in people, but others, like myself, develop an anxiety disorder.

Biological based conditions may also be hereditary in nature. Both of my parents have struggled with on-and-off depression, and I may have had an underlying predisposition for mental health problems my whole life. Ask yourself if either of your parents have had struggles with any type of mental health problems in the past. If so this may be the beginning of your first step. 

Anxiety disorders and other mental health problems can be brought on by traumatic or life changing experiences. If you fall into this category, I’m sure you can clearly recall the incident that may have started you down this path of having mental health problems. But your first step is to ask yourself why this event was so traumatic to you. How did it make you feel? Did you feel vulnerable, not in control of the situation, scared, or in danger? Did this event happen once or multiple times, and are you being put into this situation in the present time? The key here is to dig deeper into your own thoughts and emotions about the situation. This is your first step. 

It is also very important to note that many disorders are rooted in a combination of biological and situational factors.

Your first step may take you many places, but one of them should be to talk to a doctor.

They are professionals and didn’t go to school for 8+ years to not learn how to help their patients! A family doctor may be able to help you if your anxiety is biological in nature, and a psychiatrist may be able to help those whose anxiety is rooted through something else.

Taking the medication my doctor prescribed to me is exactly what I needed to take the edge off of my anxiety, and to give me the motivation to help myself even more beyond taking pills.

I can’t wait to share the rest of my journey with you. (It gets a lot more fun from this point forward, but you know, serious stuff first).

 

Hugs and Positive Vibes,

Miss lessanxiouslife