50 Important Facts About Having Anxiety…

I was inspired by this post which listed 50 facts about having autism, so I thought I’d do a similar post about having anxiety. I’ve had anxiety since I was around 10 years old, and if you’ve been following my blog for a little while you’ll know it has improved in the last two years. But I still do have panic attacks and anxiety still plays an important role in my life. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this, and as always I’d love to hear from you if you have anxiety yourself.

  1. We’re not attention seeking. We are genuinely scared of social interactions or triggering situations.
  2. We’re not vampires. Okay yes I am as pale as a piece of paper, and I burn like one too. But I do actually like to go outside, and I do like to socialise it’s just very stressful.
  3. It upsets us if you cancel your plans last minute. I have spent days, even weeks preparing myself to go out with you and then you’re cancelling 10 minutes before we’re supposed to meet up? Not okay. At least 24 hours notice please!
  4. It upsets us if you’re late.  Don’t be late. Or if you can’t help being late, text me! Anywhere I have to be I am there 15 minutes early. And if you’re not there on time I start to freak out. Have you been hit by a car? Have I got the wrong place? Do you hate me?
  5. We blush. A lot. Like 90% of my life is spent looking like a tomato. If I get embarrassed, or I start to feel anxious I tend to blush. I know I’m bright red! Please don’t point it out! Then everyone looks at us and it makes us feel a thousand times worse.
  6. We sometimes don’t like eye contact. Eye contact feels so personal to me. When I get nervous I might avoid eye contact. The correct response is to carry on speaking to me as normal and let me get used to you. Don’t point it out and try and force us to look you in the eye!
  7. We might run away. I have actually ran away from people when I get too overwhelmed. No I’m not just looking for attention. Please don’t point out that I look crazy. I know what I’m doing isn’t seen as normal but sometimes life is too overwhelming. Wait for me to calm down, then just stay with me. We can sort any problems out later.
  8. We have anxiety attacks. But they might not involve us struggling to breathe. My anxiety attacks come in many shapes and sizes. I may suddenly need to go somewhere I deem as “safe” which is usually my bed, I might start crying, I might run away. All these can be panic attacks, so if you notice I look scared then chances are I’m freaking out. Stay with me, don’t raise your voice, remove me from the stressful situation if possible and lay my hands on a flat surface. I’m not doing this for attention, I am overwhelmed and stressed.
  9. Getting drunk is not going to cure my anxiety. It is surprising the amount of people who tell me to smoke or drink to solve my anxiety. I personally do not enjoy drinking and it actually makes my anxiety worse, as I feel as though I’m not in control of my body and I feel very vulnerable and weak. Don’t force me to do anything.
  10. You don’t have to have a bad upbringing to have anxiety. Although my anxiety personally stems from traumatic events, not everyone’s does. Do not automatically assume someone has had a crappy childhood just because they have anxiety, this can make people feel as though they are wrong or silly for being anxious when they “Don’t have a reason to”.
  11. Anxiety is not just being nervous. Just like being sad does not mean you are depressed, having normal feelings of anxiety such as around exam season or before public speaking does not mean you have an anxiety disorder. However, if you have very high levels of anxiety during these times to the point where you are physically suffering then you need to speak to your doctor.
  12. Our brains exaggerate everything. You take longer than 3 seconds to reply to my text? You’re either dead or you hate me. You don’t hear something I said? You’re ignoring me, you’re angry with me, and you hate me.
  13. Forcing us to socialise does not help. Yes, please ask me to parties and to hang out with you. But don’t pressure me it into doing it, and if I say no I mean no. I love going out, and I love feeling included but if I feel like it would be too stressful or I’m doing something stressful the day before I might say no.
  14. We will probably leave the party early. Although I love socialising, there is a limit. Socialising is exhausting for me and so I will most likely leave after a couple of hours. Don’t get upset or offended and don’t make me feel guilty for doing this.
  15. Telling us “Don’t be shy.” does not cure our anxiety. Oh thank you so much. My anxiety is now suddenly cured. Where were you 8 years ago when this all started?! You truly are magic.
  16. If we say don’t touch us, we mean it. Because my anxiety comes from a traumatic point in my life being touched can feel threatening, so when I feel stressed I may tell people not to touch me. I mean this. If I am touched whilst having a panic attack it makes me feel terrified and increases my anxiety so much to the point where I have been physically ill. However, some people like to be hugged or comforted so ask the person if it’s okay to touch them.
  17. New people are terrifying. There’s so much pressure to make a good impression on new people. What if I mess up and they hate me? What if I have a panic attack and they think I’m a freak?
  18. New places are terrifying. I personally feel so exposed and vulnerable in new places and I hate feeling weak.
  19. We struggle to sleep. You know when you lay awake and think of all the things you need to do and you can’t sleep? Well imagine that 100 times worse. I think of everything I need to do tomorrow and the next day and I’m so scared I’ll forget them I have to get up and write them down, I go through all the conversations I’ve had and I panic about them, I then think about the next social event I’ve got and I play all the possibilities through in my head. Because of this it usually takes me 1-2 hours of worrying before I fall asleep.
  20. We hate being left alone. If you come with us somewhere, say a party, do not leave us alone. It freaks us out and we start to panic. If you have arranged to stay with us, then do that, don’t change plans suddenly.
  21. We love being left alone. Then again, if I am upstairs in my bed surrounded by pillows with my laptop and a cup of tea in one hand, I want to be left alone. I don’t want to socialise at that point and I am honestly perfectly happy with my own company.
  22. We have scars. I have a lot of scars actually, and although I am not ashamed of them I feel the need to hide them a lot. Mostly because you get called “disgusting” and a “freak”. Please, if you see someone with scars, and they’re a stranger, don’t point them out and don’t be mean to me. I have gone through more than you will ever know. And please, if you know me and see my scars for the first time, don’t tell  our entire class I’m an attention seeking whore. Thank you.
  23. We are not just shy. I am actually really bubbly and excited when you get to know me. But you have to earn my trust. And calling me “shy” and teasing me about it is not the way to do that.
  24. We are proud of our little achievements. For example, for the first time since I was 10 years old I am going swimming. My 7 year old cousin asked me to go with her and I promised her I would. For me this is amazing! I am actually going to show off my body to the world! Okay, I’m going to be in a bikini top and shorts and it’ll be in my town’s local swimming pool. But still, it’s an incredible achievement for me and although I am very, very nervous I’m excited too! Please don’t put us down for being proud of little things like this, because these little things are what help us overcome our anxiety.
  25. Anxiety is not depression. These are two very different mental health issues, and although someone may have both of these, they are not interchangeable. If you are confused about the difference, please take 10 minutes to research both of these terms.
  26. Some people with anxiety take medication. Although I personally do not take any medication for my anxiety, some people find it very helpful. No one should feel guilty for taking prescribed medication to improve their daily lives, just because their illness effects their mental state doesn’t mean they should be ashamed of getting help.
  27. We know we’re not acting logically. I know that I shouldn’t be afraid of going to the supermarket, or meeting my boyfriend’s friends, but I am. My brain tells me these are dangerous situations and there’s nothing I can do about that, so telling me I’m being stupid doesn’t help.
  28. We hate feeling abandoned. I personally get really upset if I feel people are abandoning me, even when I know that’s not the case. For example, if someone calls me I have to hang up on them first otherwise I feel as though they don’t want to talk to me. This sounds really silly, but if my boyfriend needs to walk away from me (such as if he’s going to get a bus or is going into another shop) then I can’t watch him walk away because it just makes me feel nervous and upset.
  29. We get flashbacks. If someone’s anxiety comes from a traumatic event (similar to PTSD in a way, but that’s not an anxiety disorder) then they may get flashbacks to times where they have been under stress. For me these usually take the form of nightmares. If your partner has these then don’t underestimate them, to us they feel very real, when we wake up just comfort us and like I’ve said before ask before touching us because that can make the situation worse.
  30. We’re not ashamed. We want you to know we have anxiety, and don’t be afraid to talk to us about it. In fact, talk to us about it! Research anxiety. Anything you can do to educate yourself on why we feel and act certain ways can only be helpful.
  31. Anxiety isn’t just a mental problem. There are a whole heap of physical issues that go along with it. Shortness of breath, high pulse rate, shaking etc. Not only does this make us more anxious but it can affect our daily lives.
  32. Work can make us very stressed. A lot of people get stressed at work, but for people with anxiety it can be 10 times harder. My main job involves delivering Chinese takeaway, which means I have to talk to 15-30 strangers in a night. This is very stressful for me, and when I first started I wouldn’t look customers in the eye. But now I have definitely got more confident, and can speak to new customers quite easily. So if you work with someone with anxiety give them time to get used to the job and used to you.
  33. We’re good at offering support. We’ve been through so much that we can handle any problem you throw at us and we can remain calm and offer advice and support, without judgement (most of the time!).
  34. We care a lot about what others think. People tell us all the time, we shouldn’t worry about what others think. But I do. All the time. I care whether people think I’m talking too loud, or if people think I’m horrible or a mean person. So, just be careful what you tell us, because our minds may exaggerate what you say.
  35. We love compliments. Seriously, someone telling me they like my shoes can make me happy for the rest of the day. It makes me feel like I’m doing something right, I know we shouldn’t rely on others to make us happy but honestly I love getting compliments. If someone you know has anxiety, giving them a compliment can definitely help them relax and can help reduce their anxiety.
  36. We are really good at problem solving. My mind is constantly thinking of all the bad things that can happen, and I always think of what I can do in case that happens. Also, because of my anxiety I am prepared for everything! Got a papercut? I’ve got 30 plasters and a bandage in my bag. Your hairtie broke? Don’t worry, I tie my ponytail up with three of them just in case. Your button fell off? I’ve got safety pins in my front pocket. I am a lifesaver!
  37. We don’t like confrontation. If someone yells at me or argues with me I worry about it for days afterwards and it makes me feel very sick. If you can, try and remain calm and discuss the problem because I won’t be able to sort out anything if I’m having a panic attack.
  38. We like our personal space. Just be aware that if I don’t know you, or I don’t trust you yet, you need to stay well away from me. I don’t mean avoid me, but I shouldn’t be able to touch you if I stick my arm out. If I move slightly away from you, don’t step closer to me! I’m feeling uncomfortable and suffocated.
  39. We care so much about others. We do so much to help others, and because of our anxiety we are constantly worried about how others are feeling or whether they’re safe. In fact a lot of people with anxiety will put others before themselves because we are more worried about them than ourselves.
  40. We get moody. But we don’t usually mean to. Sometimes our anxiety makes us irritable. Imagine that every day you wake up and you realise you’ve got a really important exam to take, but you haven’t studied for it. That’s how we feel. Would you find it easy to be happy and upbeat in that situation?
  41. You are important to us. If we say that we love you, and we trust you, and we let our guard down around you then that means you are so important to us. We don’t choose friends or partners easily, so know that we love you even if it doesn’t seem like it sometimes.
  42. We’re not weak. In fact, we’re the opposite. We’re some of the most courageous and bravest people you’ll meet because everyday is a struggle for us.
  43. We can’t “Just relax”. How the hell do you relax?! Every single waking second my mind is racing with thoughts, no matter what I’m doing. The only thing that helps is running in complete silence, just me, my breaths, and my footsteps. Please don’t tell us to relax, because it’s pretty much impossible.
  44. We need you to be there. If I need to call you at 3am because I’m alone in the house and I just heard a noise downstairs and I’m pretty much dead right now, then you need to answer it. If I trust you enough to ask for help, then you need to be there to give me that support. Don’t be angry if we call you at inconvenient times, we need your help.
  45. We need you to listen to us. If you do not have anxiety then you don’t know how it feels. Please don’t try and give us advice when we’re having a panic attack because we’re too far gone, just listen to us complain and rant and freak out.
  46. We need our sleep. It is exhausting to be on edge every day, so if we’re sleeping please don’t wake us up unless you really have to. Getting to sleep is so difficult, so although we might go to bed at 10pm we probably didn’t fall asleep until midnight so please cut us some slack!
  47. Our words are precious. We might not say a lot, but what we do say has been well thought out. We don’t feel the need to fill silences with stupid small talk. We’re quite happy just listening in conversations, so don’t force us to speak when we might just not have anything to say right then.
  48. We’re good observers. We notice everything. We pick up on every little detail of your body language and the way you speak, and we make judgments on this. This also means we’re good at reading people because we’re very aware of when someone’s body language or tone suggests they’re angry or sad etc.
  49. We use a lot of body language. We might not tell you we’re panicking but our body language might show it. Everyone is different, but learning how someone acts when they get upset helps you handle their behaviour better. I personally get very quiet, I pull my sleeves down, I might visibly shake, and I avoid eye contact.
  50. We are not our anxiety. We are people. Some of us are so sweet and kind, and some of us are assholes. Take the time to get to know the person behind the anxiety, who knows you might just find someone amazing…Like me 🙂

Thank you so much for reading!

Dear Anxiety,

Dear Anxiety,

What the fuck do you think you’re doing? Do you realise you have singlehandedly made me cry more times than any other person? Do you even care?

I remember the day I met you. The Bad Man had just left and then you showed up. You were so nice back then. You kept me out of trouble, made me feel safe, you kept me quiet. You spoke to me so gently, and you said you’d help me get out. Oh I was so glad to have you with me.

But then you started to whisper in my ear as I slept. You showed me all those times The Bad Man hurt me, and you told me it was my fault. If I had just stayed quiet he wouldn’t have hit me. If I were invisible I wouldn’t have been attacked. It was my fault. All my fault.

My friends hated me. My family secretly wanted me dead, it would be easier for them that way. Right? That’s what you said. Everyone I met was out to hurt me. Every fingertip on my skin was a knife to my neck. But you were always there for me, to keep me safe.

I stopped going outside, avoided mirrors, and stopped talking to my family. You told me I deserved every slash across my thighs. That every burn, bloody knuckle, and bruise were the only way to prove my dedication to you. You were my only friend.

But you didn’t count on Love, did you? To be fair, I didn’t see it coming either. I definitely didn’t expect it in the form of an 18 year old boy.

You started whispering as I slept again. He was going to hurt me. He only wanted me for one thing, that’s what The Bad Man  wanted so why would this boy be any different? But you didn’t count on him whispering back. “You’re beautiful”. “I’m so lucky to have you”. “I love you”. You didn’t like that, did you? So you threw a tantrum. And you made me breathless and you made me cry. You made me weak. Yet he still held me close. We fought you for so long and guess what… we won.

You still come and visit me sometimes, but that’s okay because you can’t destroy me anymore. You can’t turn my dreams into twisted flashbacks. You can’t force me to paint my legs with blood. You can’t tell me I’m worthless… because I’m not.

I am worth everything. I am intelligent , beautiful, kind, strong, and I am loved. And there’s not a single fucking thing that you can do about it.

Lots of love, hugs, and kisses

Amy xxx

Social Anxiety.

Today is going to be a little bit more of a serious post. I’ve been wanting to talk about this for a little while now but wasn’t really sure how to explain it. See, I have had social anxiety for a very long time now. So if I’m put in new situations, or I have to meet new people, or if I’m in a large crowds it makes me very nervous and can lead to panic attacks. I know when it started, but as I’ve mentioned before I don’t want to talk about that part of my past. Basically when I was younger I was put in dangerous and upsetting situations and unfortunately this has affected many aspects of my life. Yesterday my boyfriend and I went to meet his best friend. I’d been putting off meeting her for a year and a half, but yesterday he “persuaded” me to go. This involved going to her house and meeting her, her mum, boyfriend, and sister. For me this is such a stressful situation. What if they hate me? What if I embarrass myself? What if I have a panic attack and they think I’m a freak? But I went, and I was terrified, but my boyfriend held my hand the whole time and helped calm me down and I’m glad I went because they’re all lovely. Everyone who has anxiety will have a slightly different experience. For me, I tend to overthink things. I’ll have bad thoughts about the situation and I’ll think of all the awful things that could happen. I won’t look new people in the eye, I’ll turn my head away, and won’t talk. And if I do talk it’s usually about someone else to try and divert the attention away from me. I’ll play with my hair and clothes and pull my sleeves over my hands. I’ll tap my feet and dig my nails into my hands. My breathing will get faster and shallower and that’s when I panic. I’ll start to cry and struggle to breathe and then I’ll try to keep it in so I don’t look like a freak, which ends up making it worse. I’m not an expert, and I’m definitely not qualified to give advice but I’m going to try it anyway. So here’s Amy’s Top Tips for Dealing with Anxiety:

  1. Panic Attacks. I know it feels like you’re going to die, and because of that it can be difficult to think logically. But what I do is try to remove myself from the stressful situation/person if possible. Lay your hands flat on a flat surface and push down. Put your head against a flat surface if you can, and close your eyes. Count your breaths, up until the count of ten then start counting them again, then repeat this until your breathing is better.
  2. Bad thoughts. People with anxiety tend to exaggerate the situation, and I do this a lot! So what I do is write down all the bad things that could possibly happen. (And I love making lists so this is great 😛 ) Then go through the list as if you were another person. How likely is it that these bad things will happen? And what could you do if this problem actually occurs? For me, feeling prepared helps a lot.
  3. Stressful situations. A lot of everyday situations can become really stressful, and there have been a lot of times where I don’t want to do anything and I can’t even get out of bed. But it’s a viscous cycle, the more you avoid triggering situations, the more anxious of those situations you become. So do try and do things that make you anxious, and I know that’s so difficult but you can put things in place to help reduce anxiety. Try meditating before, or listening to music, go out with people you trust, go out to familiar places etc.

Clearly I’m not a doctor, so if your anxiety is seriously effecting your life you need to speak to family or friends or teachers, or go see your doctor. Please don’t suffer in silence, and if anyone reading this wants to get in touch or if anyone’s having a bad day they can always talk to me  🙂