"The feeling of having in the middle of my body a ball of wool that quickly winds itself up, its innumerable threads pulling from the surface of my body to itself” -Franz Kafka
To outsiders, your life may seem pretty perfect. Maybe you have a great job, a group of friends who have always been by your side or a personality to be envious of, perhaps all of the above. But something inside just doesn't feel quite right, normal perhaps. Whatever normal is. Anxiety can be triggered by a variety of factors, however different personality traits and stressful life events may provoke the condition or make it worse. Let's speak scientifically for a second, Anxiety is an emotion characterized by an unpleasant state of inner turmoil, often accompanied by nervous behavior. It is the subjectively unpleasant feelings of dread over anticipated events.
In life it's normal to worry about money, relationships, work etc but those with anxiety these ‘worries’ can become life changing, all-consuming perhaps. There are many different signs attached to anxiety, for example; an excessive unsettling feeling, compulsions which cannot be kept under control (known as OCD), panic attacks and an irrational fear of everyday objects or situations. Although the signs of anxiety are common with each sufferer, the cause can differ with each case. However common causes include; work stress, pregnancy and giving birth, family and relationship problems, traumatic events, verbal, sexual, physical or emotional and death or loss of a loved one.
Beth Atkins a 23-year-old British backpacker suffered from anxiety whilst studying at university. “To people who didn't know me, they wouldn't suspect anything was wrong. My friends didn't have a clue. It is easy to hide unless you're having a panic attack or can't bring yourself to get out of bed.” Beth’s anxiety was triggered by the stress of university work and deadlines, the overwhelming amount of studying paired with her disliking her living situation caused Beth to spiral into a deep state of anxiety.
Of this, she says “It was a vicious cycle, I was suffering from insomnia. I couldn't sleep for thinking of all the work I had to do, then when I would turn up to class I couldn't concentrate because I was so tired which only deepened my anxiety.”
The time for change came when Beth began crying over anything and everything; missing the bus, not having the correct colour pen, spilling a glass of water, she also began experiencing panic attacks.
“I knew my feelings weren't normal, but I'd lost the sense of what normality was. I visited the doctor and he diagnosed me with anxiety and referred me to a therapist. For six months three times a week I had to explain my feelings and mood, at first I was apprehensive, I wouldn't open up. I didn't feel like I belonged there, but after two months I was able to see the cause of my anxiety."
"The therapist helped me to understand the cycle of stress and how to control it. I was able to go to the root and slowly build myself up from there, starting off with small things like; today I have to shower or eat three meals. Something so trivial to someone not suffering with anxiety but being able to make a daily routine really helped me.”
As well as therapy Beth also attended anxiety meditation classes and made a plan as to how to control the situation if it was to happen again. Two years down the line, the feelings have not reappeared however Beth is optimistic that she would be able to manage her anxiety with all the coping mechanisms she has learned.
“In the beginning, I found it hard to tell people I have anxiety as I didn't fully understand what it was I was going through. Maybe 18 months ago I couldn't have spoken about this, but who I was then and who I am now are completely different people. I’m happy now, I’m doing everything I want to do and I’m in control of my life. Speaking about anxiety openly has made me see that I’m not alone, being able to help and be helped by others is a great part of the healing process.”
If you're reading this and mentally ticking boxes you're not alone. Every year, around 14% of all adult Australians are affected by an anxiety disorder, with women commonly affected more than men. It's not life threatening although when you're in a deep cycle of anxiety it doesn't seem that way. Being able to speak to someone is the first step in taking back your life. The ability to control your everyday doings could make a real difference in your mood, and help you on the road to recovery and one away from anxiety.
This post was written by the talented Rose Wells check her twitter out @RoseWells21