I am really trying to get back into the routine of blogging to a schedule so that you, my readers, have some consistency as to when my content is actually posted. I’m failing, aren’t I? I really am going to try harder! It’s just getting into the swing of things and deciding what to write. To be honest, not knowing what to write has always been the downful of all my blogs throughout the years. The only reason this one lasted up for so long is because I could write about student things… and even though I am still a student, I do not want to start repeating myself multiple times. I’m still sort of doing that, but oh well! Let’s crack on with today’s article, shall we? ‘Through My Eyes’ is, yeah you guessed it, a article post about anxiety. WOW! Exciting, am I right? … I’ll just start.
Just for a moment, I would like you to imagine a couple of things;
Imagine that you are drunk. In whatever way ‘drunk’ means to you. Imagine that. That point where you cannot concentrate on one singular point. Where everything feels like it has a ‘buzz’ or ‘vibration‘ to it. Where everything is spinning. The room, the people, everything, your head cannot be still for a single second.
Imagine this now… imagine that you are not drunk and the room isn’t spinning, HOWEVER, you cannot concentrate on a singular point still. You feel distant still, but not drunk. Everything still feels like it has a buzz. You are ‘in the room’ physically, but mentally, you are trying to claw out of there for no reason whatsoever.
Now, these are just my feeble attempts at trying to get you to imagine what it is like when an anxiety attack kicks in or when you relapse.
It is feeling drunk but being completely sober.
Let me take you on a journey, as best as I possibly can. I am metaphorically going to ‘put you in my shoes’ for a moment. In this scenario, I am going to (to the best of my ability) try and allow you to see through my eyes what its like when anxiety strikes.
Ready? … Good, because I am not.
It is a completely normal day. You do not have anything on. It’s a chill day. A Sunday perhaps. Your week hasn’t been to bad either, which is good. You haven’t had any stress that you couldn’t handle. Good. You haven’t got a particularly stressful week coming up either, again, good. At this moment and time, you are completely ‘chill’. Well, as chill as you can be. You are sitting in the living room with your feet up watching the TV or talking with friends and family. You are comfortable around these people. You are comfortable. You feel like you belong, you do not feel out of place or at ‘risk’. You are fine. You are good.
But then… (dramatic music)
As you are sitting there, your heart suddenly thumps your chest. Almost like it’s jumped a beat. It catches you off guard. Okay? Right, no big deal. Then it does it again, and again, again. You are starting to notice it. You can’t help but notice it. You are trying to keep eye contact with the person you are talking to but you cannot ignore what is going on underneath your own skin, so, though your eyes are maintaing contact, you are MILES away. You can feel a cold sweat coming on. You can feel a tremble in your fingers as you hold your coffee cup. You are trying to ignore it. You can see it out of the corner of your eyes. It lasts a moment or two but to you it feels like a life time. Right, it’s over? Okay. Back to reality. You are trying to calm down from what just happened. You wipe your brow and regrip your coffee cup.
But then… (more dramatic music)
You feel a pinch in your chest. It hurts. It’s painful. This is the end you tell yourself. This is the moment I die. I’m having a heart attack. My hearts out of sync. It’s skipping beats. There’s not enough oxygen or blood, there must be a blockage, whatever it is, it’s the end. I am about to embarrass myself (oh yes, I said embarrass) in front of my friends and family by dying via a heart attack. Right here on the living room floor. All of this is happening under the surface but you are maintaining your cool so nobody knows anything is wrong apart from those who truly know you and know the signs. Your eyes are glazed. The cold sweats are back, except you aren’t cold, you are burning up. You’re on fire. The shakes are back. Oh no, I can’t breath. You have a shortness of breath. You are trying to catch a breath that you feel is always out of reach. At this point your body is having a full blown breakdown. You are both freaking out and accepting it at the same time. Guess what? This conversation is still going on. You are still trying to play it cool, apart from the fact some idiot in your head has hit the ‘flight or fight’ button in your head a million times for no reason and you have no idea why. There is NOTHING to be anxious about. Well, guess what? Try telling yourself that! To be honest, it’s either throw your cup of tea up in the air as a distraction and run out of the room and curl up in your duvet away from everyone where you feel ‘comfortable’ (even though you were before) or if you believe the ‘fight response’ punch your dear friend in the face because you know, your body must have dedicated they were about to do something without you realising it first. Ridiculous, right? WRONG. These are the ‘rational’ explanations we try and tell ourselves to understand what is happening because honestly, under the ‘calm’ exterior we are doing this…
WHAT THE FUCK?! WHY?! WHAT?! WHAT’S HAPPENED?! WHO DIED?! WHAT?!
Do you know what it’s like? It’s like when you startle a sleeping dog and they are all of the sudden awake and alert and ready to go (even though they have NO idea what is going on).
Right, where were we? Oh, yeah! So, the ‘fight and flight’ response button in your head has obviously broken and you are sitting there shaking like a drug addict that hasn’t had their fix, coffee cup shaking and everything. Again, you are STILL trying to maintain this conversation because you know if you do not, you could REALLY upset the person you are talking to and if you did that they may get angry and then they will never talk to you again and then once that happens the friendship group falls apart and its all because of you, you, you ruined everything. Why would you do that? (Notice how that rambled on, it’s like that in our heads at a MILLION miles per hour). This is what the part I asked you to imagine earlier comes into play.
Now, at this moment, you are ‘numb’. You are aware of everything that is happening to your body but, you are ‘ignoring it’. In other words, you are numb to it. You are just letting it happen because you know its all you can do. So, again, physically you are still in this living room where you feel perfectly comfortable having a conversation with a close friend but in your head, well, mentally you are GONE. You are far gone. Your mental state has ran out of the living room, straight upstairs, closed the door and hid under the duvet. Following this, the adrenaline that has been released due to your surivival mode kicking in is coursing through your body and making your heart beat fast, your breathing shallow and your head spin like you are the drunkest you’ve ever been. Now you are struggling to concentrate. You are trying to focus on one spot – their eyes, their lips – but as you do, you keep drifting and you cannot control it.
How does this end? Well, you either excuse yourself from the room and go deal with this alone; allow itself to ride out and feel crap and exhausted afterwards; or actually voice how you’re feeling and get help. (The latter is rarely the option chosen).
So, the problem with the previous is that you often come off as rude; distant; vacant; quiet and well, the list goes on. You fall under an umbrella of terms that you do not belong in. That ‘persona’ is a direct cause and effect of ANXIETY. Or, more specifically, an anxiety attack.
To be honest, I’m intrigued at myself for being able to put that into words. It may not be 100% accurate and to be honest, for each and every sufferer, it is different. This is my personal account of how it feels, some what. Sure, it’s a little comedic but if you cannot make fun of it, it is winning and it should never win. I know it is easy to say that and I can hold my hands up and say that 50% of the time, it does have a hold on me and effects me greatly but the other 50% of the time, I have a hold on it.
One thing you should know, if you do not suffer this particular mental illness, it is exhausting. I am in no way implying other mental illnesses are not exhausting, I am just allowing you to know that it is exhausting. It drains you mentally and physically. When adrenaline ‘fuels’ your body like that, you have a come down afterwards and it is not in the slightest pleasant.
Therefore, if you are reading this because you have anxiety and want to know how another person suffers, keep going, you are strong and you can overcome this. If you are reading this because you want to understand somebody with anxiety, this is one person laying themselves bear because hey, it’s good to talk about it. It is difficult, it is EXHAUSTING and soul destroying. We just want you to know something…
We are NOT rude. We are NOT ignoring you. We are NOT doing this conciously.
We ARE fighting battles that you cannot see. We ARE trying our hardest each and every day. We thank you for sticking by us and trying as hard as you are.
Good fighting good people and my lovely readers!
Until next time,