ANXIETY, STRESS, AND ATTACKS.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

I have been staring at this empty page for what seems like hours, trying to think how to word this post right. Describing certain feelings and experiences to the point of making them as real as possible for the readers to understand better can sometimes be a bit tough. The situation of a sensitive subject does not help at all. However, since it is Mental Health Awareness week in the UK, I thought of sharing my experience with Anxiety. This is the perfect time since it is also finals time for most students, so anxiety and stress levels around the world are quite high.

A year ago I reached breaking point. I had my  A Levels, and I was noticing how my palpitations were increasing, and I was not able to sleep at all, causing me to miss school since I would have spent a good 4-5 hours rolling around in bed trying to sleep to no avail. I would get myself to study one of my favourite subjects but find myself struggling to understand anything. I was physically shaking, unable to sleep, getting heart palpitations and shortness of breath, breakdowns and general attacks. My parents were shutting me up every time I told them that I might have anxiety, telling me that this is all because of the upcoming exams.

I've always noticed myself getting really anxious in many situations, some of which call for no need to feel such nervousness. My mum would give me say 5 tasks at one time and I'd suddenly stare out in panic not knowing what to do and my heart would start to go crazy; I'd start shaking and feel like I need to cry. I blank out a lot during exams as well. One of my teachers used to say how there is no such thing as "blanking out". I refuse to believe him. The panic that would overcome me when I know how hard I studied that math equation and I simply see white in my head even though the same equation is at the bottom of the page and I do not see it, told me a lot about my situation. Forgetting where your next class is and you cannot see it written down on the timetable even though it is the middle of the scholastic year, pushing you to have an attack right there and then in the middle of an empty school corridor, spoke levels too. So did a sudden increase in heart rate causing me to see black and almost pass out. These 3 experiences were 3 of many I have had over the years.

The day the doctor prescribed two different medications is a day I shall never forget. For so many years I thought it was nothing even though deep down I knew otherwise. Putting a name to such a situation puts everything into a new perspective. There I was, 17 years of age, the doctor was even hesitant to giving me these strong medications, but there was no other way out. She only prescribed the stronger one for two weeks, as she was scared for my age and me becoming too dependent on them. I'm not going to lie, they did work, but they also put me in a mentally worse position. I could not come to terms with the fact that there was something wrong with me and that I needed medication for it. I did not want to rely on such strong and for me, mentally destructive pills. Long story short, I have not touched my medications as much again. I still get attacks even in calmer situations. I have learnt that this is something I have got to live with for the rest of my life. It does not pop in during exam time and then pops out again. It's there. Always.

I still find it very hard to write down "Anxiety" in work, travel, and other sort of important forms where they ask you about your health. I do not like carrying my medication. I do not like going out of class because I have just had a minor attack. I do not like being overly panicky about every little thing in my life. I do not like breaking down. I do not like worrying about everything, even simple things like song lyrics and slightly bending a rule or regulation. I do not like any bit of it. But it's there, and I am not the only person to struggle with this. Some people have it way worse than I do. It's scary to see what might happen if I do not take care of it.

I have learnt however, to take anxious scenarios such as exams as calmly as possible. I managed to get through a set of exams without any medication. I did just enough to pass, but I have never been more proud of myself. Writing this post has been tough, but I thought to share my little story. This is to hoping people to understand how anxiety is more than what you think; to giving anxious people a sign of not being alone. It is not a danger to others, Anxiety is simply a personal hurdle, one which we alone can jump over.

Please do visit http://www.anxietyuk.org.uk for more information about Anxiety and other mental disorders, and how you can find the help that you need. Do not suffer alone.

Maria x

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