anxiety from friends & subtle stigma

I am lucky enough to be surrounded by amazing friends who make me feel loved and supported…most of the time. having anxiety isn’t easy for me, full stop. although, having always been the ‘supporter’ in a friend group, I am able to step back and recognize that it isn’t always easy for my friends, either.

being in university, you are supposedly living the best years of your life. this means that you often want to take a break from studying, go to parties, hang out with people you have never met and ALWAYS put yourself out there. for me, on the other hand, this idea leaves me riddled with anxiety.

a night out on the town

I’m not good in social situations where I don’t know exactly who is going, what everyone in my group is wearing, how long we are staying, if we are moving locations at any point and if so, when etc etc. you get the point right? especially when you mix dark spaces, loud music and alcohol into the picture, this leaves my head spinning with uncertainty and anxiety.

i was never able to go to clubs or bars before. it even came to be known in my group of friends. “oh she said she’ll go, but just wait – she’ll back out tonight.” despite not wanting to have this reputation of being a flake, it was unfortunately true. to be honest, agreeing in the first place was probably my mistake but I never did it to hurt my friends’ feelings. mostly I did it for 2 reasons: 1. to stop them from bugging me and calling me a downer when I said ‘no’ right off the bat; and 2. to try to convince myself that maybe, just maybe I would go.

it got so bad that i ditched on my best friend’s birthday. my best friend. even thinking about that now it makes me sad. not even in those times could I convince myself that I would be okay.

coping mechanisms & meds

luckily, my medication has helped a lot. I now can go out casually and be okay with it and not have a panic attack. i can’t credit it all to my medication though. it took a lot from me too – i taught myself some different coping mechanisms, like deep breathing or closing my eyes/ears, that I could use in a situation where I felt unsafe or anxious.

one thing that definitely helped was finding out what my triggers were and making sure that a) i would try to avoid them of b) i would know what to do if i couldn’t avoid them. let me tell you right off the bat: having loud music as one of your triggers is NOT easy in a college party setting. it actually made me giggle to write that – MUSIC? reeeealllllyy? Really. i remember one time i was at an outdoor backyard party – my friends and i were dancing right next to this massive speaker. it was as if i could feel the music vibrating my bones and all i could hear was the sound of my beating heart **cue panic attack**. yeah, it sucked but now, i know that in an already overwhelming situation, music blaring into my ears won’t help it get better. triggers are different for everyone.

another thing that made world of a difference was noting what I did after a panic attack or any moment of intense anxiety that made me feel better. basically, what was the opposite of a trigger. for me, i need a safe, quiet place where i am alone – i don’t really like the company unless it’s my best friend. warmth also helps me calm down. obviously in the middle of an anxiety attack you’re not going to be taking notes of what’s working and what’s not, but even a general idea helps. for example: quiet. if your friends understand you and your anxiety, they could also help you work through this. again, this will be different for everyone but, super super helpful to think about.

subtle stigma

remember when i said my friends used to roll their eyes at me for not being able to go out? that something is called subtle stigma and to be honest, we are all guilty of it at one point or another. no matter what mental health topic you are referring to, it’s so easy to ‘throw shade’ when someone explains why they can’t do something or why they have to do something. this was one of the biggest barriers for me in coming out to my friends and telling them about everythin’ happening in my mind.

educate yourself and others about the risk of stigma and the intense, irreversible effects it can have on someone battling mental illness. and don’t roll your eyes when your friends tell you they’re too anxious to go out – trust me, they feel guilty enough.

stay anxious & brave,

carol

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explaining my anxiety to my family

Picture this: A traditional European family who often look to tea, sleep and praying to God Almighty as remedies for everything and anything and refer to mental illness as ‘being messed up’
Picture me: Terrified (and anxious, of course), writing this in her diary (yes, this is a real excerpt from 2 years ago):

March 15, 2015

I’m so conflicted and scared and anxious and worried and nervous and undecided and hyperventilating and having panic attacks and so fucking depressed. Someone please end this feeling cause it fucking sucks so much sometimes I think about just doing it but then I think no, I won’t do that, I can’t do that.

I can’t do it

Yeah. I basically used every synonym for “nervous” that you could find in the dictionary. Looking back, it makes me so sad that I ever felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel.

Back to my family. What I’m trying to say here is that telling them that I couldn’t go certain places because I would have panic attacks, or that I couldn’t concentrate for more than 20 minutes because of racing thoughts, was going to be really freaken’ hard.

But, I did. 

Continue reading “explaining my anxiety to my family”

an introduction to me

If I’m being honest, I have no idea what I’m doing right now.

I never thought I would be that girl sitting at her work desk, blogging and blogging about her anxiety nonetheless. Anyways, we digress..

ME. My name is Carol, I’m a university student in Canada and, as I’m sure you have already guessed, I have anxiety! I also love to read books, spend time outside, talk to people about anything and everything and watch videos of puppies. I also quite enjoy dry humour and re-tweeting funny political tweets.  Again, I love dogs. A lot.

LIFE. I’m an only child so I quite like my alone time, but my friends are the wind beneath my wings. I’m also not used to talking about myself so this whole endeavour is quite daunting to me, as you can imagine. I’m really only doing this for one person though. Me. I’m the kind of person who always preaches about mental health, being open and honest with one another, supporting one another through vulnerability etc etc. I feel like this is me ‘practicing what I preach’ even if I don’t share this with anyone I know personally. Maybe it will help someone out there.

JOB. I’m currently working a 9-5 internship at a very cool place. For privacy reasons, I’m not going to tell you what place but just know…it’s cool. Ha! What a tease I am! Clearly, not fun enough because I’m sitting here starting a blog instead of doing work. Very productive, I am.

MUSIC. One of my favourite things to do (at work, but also everywhere else) is listening to music. I love Spotify because it’s such a great way to learn of new music that you would have never found otherwise! They also make cool playlists like “Chill Coffeehouse” or “Stress Free”. Although I still feel stressed when listening (lol sorry Spotify) just closing my eyes and hearing my favourite tunes and lyrics makes me so incredibly happy. I’m sure a lot of you feel this way too.

ANXIETY. I’m sure this is the reason a lot of you have come here, or how most of you even found my blog. Continue reading “an introduction to me”