This post could be triggering for people currently suffering from debilitating mental illness. In this guest mental health article, Jessica explains, in-depth, her struggles with anxiety and panic attacks and how they've impacted her life. Jessica has been sharing her struggles to help others for several years. She’s had a lifetime of experience with mental illness, from her own personal experiences, to coping with multiple mental illnesses within her family. If you enjoyed this article, leave a comment below and check out Jessica's contact information in her 'About the Author' biography. - Kay
10 Revealing Ways Anxiety has Affected My Life
I have struggled with anxiety since I was 13 years old. This was the age that I had my first panic attack. It has had a definite impact on so many aspects of my life.
Anxiety has, and continues to prevent me from truly living my life to the fullest. I fight with myself on a daily basis just to do the things most people would consider routine. It can be very embarrassing, and I try hard to hide it from others as much as possible.
I have fortunately managed to gain control of my panic attacks, and haven’t had one in more than ten years. I often wonder if this is because I have truly gained control of them, or if it’s because I tend to avoid anything that I know will increase my anxiety.
Every day, I work hard to try and push myself past my comfort zone. I’m always fighting my anxiety, I am determined to regain control of my life. With counseling, I’m starting to slowly do some of the things I usually try my best to avoid.
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To help others better understand, I want to share with you 10 ways anxiety has affected my life. Some of these are day to day struggles, while others are situation-based. Either way, it’s never a pleasant experience.
Whether it’s having to travel for an extended distance, or getting stuck in a traffic delay, my mind is constantly going over every scenario of what could go wrong. What if my car breaks down? What if I have a heart attack while driving? If traffic comes to a standstill, I feel claustrophobic. It makes me feel like I can’t breathe when I’m surrounded by cars that aren’t moving.
I have a hard time making and keeping friends. I often feel that I’m not a very good friend. Checking in with friends, making and keeping plans, and sometimes even answering my phone is a challenge. Usually if they don’t make the first move, I never will.
I haven’t had very many relationships. I was with my now ex-husband for 17 years, and as my anxiety worsened, he became more and more frustrated. He didn’t understand, and I didn’t know how to make him understand. Fortunately, I have met someone who understands me much better, although there are still moments when my anxiety kicks in, and he has trouble understanding why it makes me feel the way I do.
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This is the hardest to deal with sometimes, because while some of my family members suffer with anxiety as well, everyone has different triggers. When your triggers are very different, or your anxiety levels are different, there can be times of misunderstanding. And of course, your family can be hardest on you. I think the worst thing some of my family members tell me is, “Stop thinking about it so much, and just do it.” Well that sounds all good and fine, and I wish it were that easy. It’s not.
I’m always questioning myself, doubting myself. This prevents me from doing a lot, especially trying new things. The only thing I’m usually confident about is that I’m probably going to fail.
I’m not sure how many realize this, but anxiety and depression often go hand in hand. Anxiety triggers depression for obvious reasons - when something is so powerful that it almost prevents you from living, that’s pretty depressing. Anxiety can be very isolating and lonely.
I have been through so many jobs in my lifetime, I’ve lost count. I’m not good at working any type of regular schedule. When I have to be somewhere at a certain time, and cannot leave until a certain time, I feel really stuck. Which leads to feeling claustrophobic. Which leads to me eventually not coming back to work. I can do it for awhile, but it always ends up being just too much.
I love the beach and the mountains. But when I start to think about everything involved in getting there, not so much. I worry about the drive, what to pack, and all of the things that could go wrong. Once I’m there, I’m ok. It’s the anticipation of going that usually wrecks my nerves. And after a few days, I’m ready to go home, because home is always safe.
9. Social Gatherings
These are what nightmares are made of, especially for anyone who has social anxiety. I usually have to force myself to participate. I usually try to do my best to be polite and friendly, while dying a little on the inside. I spend most of the time thinking about what excuse I can use to leave.
When you combine all of the above, the biggest impact is how isolated from the rest of the world you feel. It’s hard, because ultimately, I’m doing this to myself. And while I hate it, I can’t make it stop.
If you have anxiety, I’m sure you can relate to a lot of these feelings. If you know someone who is struggling with anxiety, maybe knowing these things will help you to better understand what’s going on inside their head. It’s like you’re constantly fighting with yourself.
You want to be able to do all of these things, but there’s this little voice that spreads doom and gloom over everything. My biggest fear, ironically, is that I’ll never be able to get past my anxious feelings to do the things I really want to do in life. That one day, my life will be over, and I’ll leave behind nothing but regret.
That feeling is the reason I continue to push myself, every single day.
If you, or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, never hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1.800.273.8255
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About the Author- Jessica
Jessica has been sharing her struggles to help others for several years. She’s had a lifetime of experience with mental illness, from her own personal experiences, to coping with multiple mental illnesses within her family. Learn more about her story at jessisamess.com.
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