I am a generally outgoing, smiling, witty, happy-go-lucky individual. What most people don’t know (until now I suppose) is that I struggle with anxiety.
Anxiety is a horrible, demonic monster. If you’re lucky enough to have never experienced anxiety, let me tell you how blessed you are. It’s hard to even write this article if I’m being honest because it makes me focus on what anxiety is, which in return gives me anxiety.
Isn’t it Ironic? Don’t you think.
Now when I say anxiety I don’t mean “I have so much anxiety over this test”, something you hear often when referring to just about anything. You can be anxious, as in nervous. I’m not referring to that. I’m referring to real, full-blown anxiety. The kind that isn’t just “in your head”. The kind that manifests itself in actual physical form with heart palpitations, body tremors, the feeling that something is sitting on your chest and you cannot breathe, with your hands or feet tingling uncontrollably, that feeling that you might literally die any second from a heart attack or god knows what else. The kind where you try breathing deeply, focusing on what’s real, right in front of you, doing all those things people tell you to do – that have never actually experienced it.
People will ask “well, what are you having anxiety over?”
Like you can just pin point one thing and say yes, you’re right Karen, getting my oil changed has really got my anxiety spiraling out of control. The reality is that anxiety can hit you for absolutely no reason at all. I can travel all the way to Jamaica and have zero anxiety. I can also drive 10 min from my house and feel anxiety creeping up on me with my heart racing for absolutely zero reason, or even have to pull over because I’m having a full-blown panic attack.
I also experience anxiety when it comes to doing anything where I feel like I can’t immediately escape. It’s a fight or flight reaction that my body experiences, over which I have zero control. It’s possible that it’s some form of claustrophobia, but it’s more than that. For example: while down in the deep caves in Bermuda the panic set in when I suddenly realized there were so many people down there with me that I couldn’t immediately escape if I wanted to.
The same thing applies to simple things like going to the dentist, where I can’t just get up and walk out in the middle of a cleaning. I literally take valium before going to the dentist for a routine checkup. I also used to get eyelash extensions done but after having insane anxiety, I quit doing it. All because I had to sit there for an allotted amount of time and couldn’t escape. I also get anxiety the night before I fly anywhere because the concept of being on a plane absolutely freaks me out. And keep in mind that I’ve flown a TON. Once I get on the actual airplane, I’m just fine.
All of this sounds incredibly insane, right? None of this adds up or makes sense? Try living with it. It’s my reality.
So how do you go about fixing anxiety caused by nothing?
That’s a great question all of us sufferers would love answered. There is no “cure” for anxiety.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a pharmacist. Only your doctor can tell you what they think will work for you. Just know that no doctor can tell you to take a magical pill that will make it all go away. They will simply have you try one version of anti-anxiety medication, then after some time if it doesn’t work, they will either up your dosage, or switch medications. You also have to work your way up to a dosage, and if you want to come off, you must also ween yourself off to avoid withdrawal side effects.
I will share a couple things that I really like. Calm Drops and Bachs Rescue Remedy. Those are my go-to items that I keep them in my purse at all times for the moment I feel any type of anxiety coming on. It has also come to my attention recently by a close friend that anxiety can be triggered by nutrient deficiencies in your body, such as Magnesium. I have started using magnesium lotion at night and I really like it.
MY BEST ADVICE: FIND YOUR PERSON
If you struggle with anxiety there is a good chance that you have your person. Your person that no matter where you are, or what you’re doing, they have a way of calming you and making you feel safe and at home right where you are in that moment. Your person that holds your hand, hugs you, tells you it’s going to be okay, and simply stays there with you until it’s over. That person for me is my husband.
Recently we were in Vegas for a concert and my anxiety hit me out of nowhere while driving on the freeway. My husband pulled the car over on the side of the road and told me we could stay there as long as we needed to. Now while I don’t recommend doing frequent stops on a busy freeway, you get where I’m going with this. Find your person.
My second and (distant) person is my best friend. While she lives 5 hours away, she is a phone call away the second I need her. And I need her. Because not only does she understand what I’m going through, but she also suffers from anxiety, so she understands on a personal level most people will never understand. She’s called me many times and I say “Hello!” All I hear is crying on the other end and, “I’m having anxiety.” And we talk. We distract each other. We sit with the other person until we know they’re okay.
I’ll say it again. Find your person
If you don’t have one, find one. In fact, I have one for you right here. Spoiler alert: it’s me. Having your person will not make your anxiety suddenly disappear but it will make the situation more bearable, when you know you have someone in your corner that loves and supports you, who also doesn’t think you’re absolutely bat-shit crazy.
I’ve had people tell me after seeing my travels and adventures, “Wow Jessi, for having anxiety you’ve sure done a lot”, like having anxiety is this crippling disability and they are shocked I’m still alive. And I’ll admit, it CAN be a pure full-blown crippling disability. So, if you’re living your life on a daily basis and not letting anxiety control you or get you down, you’re a freaking ROCKSTAR. If that means you smile like crazy and you cry at home, so be it. You cope however you deem necessary, and…
stop being ashamed
If you’ve experienced anxiety, I am here to say what I wish someone had told me when I first experienced it. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU. I repeat, NOTHING. As I write that I tear up because sometimes I just need to hear that myself.
Surpassing even depression, anxiety is the most common form of “mental illness” in the United States. I personally hate that term. Because to me that states that it’s all in your head. I’m here to tell you that it’s not. It’s also estimated that approximately 40 percent of adults suffer from an anxiety disorder of some kind. That means that almost HALF of the people you know now are suffering from anxiety, even if they don’t talk about it.
So, folks, it’s time to talk about it. Because the reality is that you’re NOT crazy. And you’re NOT alone in your suffering.