3 Things I Wish People Understood About My Anxiety

"Of course it's happening inside your head Harry, but why on Earth should that mean it is not real?" - Albus Dumbledore

1. My physical health is impacted. 

Mental Illness is not just a cognitive and emotional issue. It's also a physical issue.
With my anxiety, my body is constantly tense, to the point that when I started taking my anxiety medication, pills that genuinely forced my body to relax, I was in a state of constant uncomfort for about a week because my muscles just didn't know how to be in that position. They had been tense and ready for action for 21 years, it took me quite a while to get over the aches and pains of 'being relaxed'. 

I also constantly get stress headaches because of this tenseness of the muscles in my body. Tension headaches they're called and I would say, on average, I get around 4 a week without my medication and 2 when I am on my meds. 

Some of the other physical effects of my anxiety are but not limited to;
A constantly high heart rate, which causes a fair bit of chest pain,
An extreme amount of sweating, even when it's cold, 
Loss of peripheral vision when I am stressed.

2. My disorder is an illness just like any other.

The definition of a disorder in the medical sense is "an illness that disrupts normal physical or mental function"*. 
To put this in perspective for all of you out there, other examples of disorders or illnesses are: 

Bipolar Disorder
Generalised Anxiety Disorder

All of these illnesses fit together. Why? Because they are all uncurable illnesses that people suffer with every day of their lives. 
Statistics show that most of us will either be affected or know someone who is affected by diabetes. Asthma is one of the most common illnesses around the western world. 

But I can guarantee that no one who needs an asthma puffer or needs their daily dose of insulin gets called weak. Or gets told that they don't need that medication. 
"It's just a placebo affect, it doesn't really do anything" 
"You shouldn't need medicine to fix this, just try harder"

No one with diabetes or Asthma has been told that they need to just 'get over' their inability to breathe upon occasion. No one with Diabetes has been told that they just need to eat that sugary donut because it's 'not as bad as they're making it out to be'. 

Well then, why do I get told these things every day of my life? Why do any of us that suffer with mental illnesses and disorders?.... 

3. My anxiety is not logical and I'm more than aware of that. 

I know that it doesn't make sense to you why I'm having an anxiety attack. I know that my thoughts aren't logical and that my fears aren't rational. 

But guess what, just because I know these things, doesn't mean that I can turn them off. And the more you talk to me about the irrationality of them, the more embarrassed I become, the more guilty I feel and the harsher I am with myself. 

Because, like I said, I know all of these things, but that doesn't make a difference because my brain makes me scared of them, sometimes I'm not in control of my own thoughts, and that is the most terrifying part of it all. It's not the thoughts, it's the lack of control I have over them at times. Like I'm a stranger inside of my own head.. 
Can you imagine that? For your sake, I hope the answer is no... 

*source - dictionary.com

Lifeline -
13 11 14

Headspace Australia - 1800 650 890

MensLine Australia - 1300 78 99 78

Anxiety Recovery Centre Vic 
1300 269 438
(only open 9-5, Mon - Fri)


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