8 Things to Know About Having an Anxiety Disorder

Everybody feels anxious or experiences anxiety sometimes but not everybody has an anxiety disorder. Likewise not everybody who has an anxiety disorder has panic attacks. People who experience panic attacks have an anxiety disorder. Anybody who has an anxiety disorder or experiences panic attacks also feels anxious and experiences anxiety from time to time.

Given the preceding statements please indicate whether or not the following statements are true.

Jane and Jack are both really good swimmers.
Sally and Chuck like the color red.
There are 47 dogs in the park.

Did you ever feel like this when you were in school? This is how it seemed to me when I was first diagnosed with a mental illness. Like I was taking some random critical thinking and reasoning test and I had really missed something a long the way. Today I thought I would focus on Anxiety Disorders with the hope that the bits of information and advice I have to share may prove useful to you in some way because I have been there and done that. Still doing it actually.

8 Things to Know About Having an Anxiety Disorder

1.) The only thing that’s “wrong” with you is that you’re sick.

Anxiety Disorder is an illness that requires treatment and management from a qualified professional, but most importantly by the person that has the illness, you.

2.) There are different types of Anxiety Disorders.

The term Anxiety Disorder is a broad term used to identify a group of illnesses that affect people in different ways. Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Agoraphobia are all examples of different anxiety disorders. While these disorders may have things in common there will also be symptoms that are different. It is also important to note that you may have more than one Anxiety Disorder at a time, each with its own set of symptoms to address. A professional can help you sort it out and identify what treatment may help.

3.) It’s not about you.

Scientists are still exploring what causes Anxiety Disorder but one thing they know for sure is that it is not because the person who has it is somehow flawed, a bad person, or of weak character. In fact they are leaning more toward environment, stress and hereditary factors as the culprits more than anything else suggesting these things cause differences in brain chemistry, processes and structure which are beyond the scope of what I want to talk about here.

4.) It’s not all about the Anxiety Disorder.

Often times when someone has a mental illness, or any significant illness, it can make other illnesses worse, or have a negative impact on mood. This means that you could also be experiencing symptoms of depression on top of your other illness, or perhaps symptoms of paranoia related to Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder. It is actually not uncommon for an Anxiety Disorder to accompany another mental illness, so those other symptoms may be more serious than you think. Be sure to bring all of your symptoms to the attention of the professionals on your treatment team so they can help you identify what’s happening, get treatment and learn to manage it.

5.) It’s not all about the Anxiety Disorder – The Sequel

Many of the things we experience in life cause us to feel stressed and anxious. When you have an Anxiety Disorder it becomes very easy to identify all anxiety as a part of your disorder but that is just not true. Sometimes feeling very anxious is very normal. Get to know the symptoms of feeling regular ol’ anxiety, and compare it to the symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder. You may even discover that the symptoms of your Anxiety Disorder are not happening as often as you think.

6.) Anxiety is necessary.

Anxiety by itself is not a bad thing, in fact it motivates us to do things and improves our performance. The problem happens when the scales become unbalanced. Managing an Anxiety Disorder is not about eliminating all forms of stress and anxiety from your life, nor is it about spending all of your days in a zen like state pursuing only relaxing activities. Sometimes people get hyper focused on doing these things because what they are really doing is trying to avoid the symptoms of their disorder.  Don’t allow this to become your main focus or goal. It could prove to be just as detrimental to your health as the disorder itself because trying to avoid stress all the time is, well, really stressful and it takes a lot of energy. Not to mention people have a tendency to isolate themselves when they are trying to avoid stress this way. Unless you are able to cut yourself off from the world completely, not likely since you need to eat and stuff, you are probably not in a position to eliminate all sources of stress and anxiety from your life.  You will only make yourself miserable and sick trying to accomplish the impossible, plus people need other people around to be fulfilled, and you will be robbing yourself of any opportunity to get joy out of life.

7.) You’re Still Steering the Ship

You may not have any control over having an Anxiety Disorder but you can control how you manage it. There are many things you can learn to do, right from the comfort of your home, that may help. Also many of them don’t involve you having to identify yourself as a “mental patient”.  Yoga and meditation are but just two examples of these. You may be in unfamiliar territory but the beauty of exploration is that the discoveries that are made are just as much about the explorer as they are about what is being explored.

8.) Choose Your Poison Partner

People may tell you that the best way to conquer an Anxiety Disorder is to face it head on and force yourself to do the things you think you can’t do. Those people would be right with a capital B for But. You do not have to conquer every anxiety ridden moment you have everyday. Since you are in control of how you manage your disorder that means you also get to set the tempo, you know set the pace. You get to decide how you face it, with who, in what way and how often. You can pick and choose which battles you fight and which you don’t.  There is no right or wrong answer, it’s entirely up to you.

Scary? Maybe, but trust me, you got this.

Whether you like what I say, or not, agree or disagree, I want to hear from you so feel free to comment. And I am always happy to share my 43 cents with the world so hit that share button.

Mentally Me – C/P