It’s true, I don’t handle my anxiety very well. Sometimes not at all in fact. But I figure it might be interesting to share with you how I actually do. First you might want to know why I get anxiety.
Anxiety yeah; I have two kinds – General Anxiety and Panic Attacks.
Panic Attacks are hell. They come from nowhere and hits you like a bolt of lightning. I get a pressure over my chest like my heart is about to explode. My brain turns inside out and everything lights up, and I get these flashes before my eyes. I get all sweaty and start to shake; especially in my hands and sometimes other parts/the whole/ of the body. I’m dying.
General Anxiety is a bit harder to explain. I can’t always put a finger on why I have anxiety, what it is that gives me anxiety. It just is there, gnawing on my soul and brain. I can dwell on things that happened 10, 15, 20 years ago. What if? Why? How? I have of course triggers as well and sometimes they are totally logical (to me), like spending time in a big crowd. Others are completely illogical, like seeing a certain model of a car (because someone I once knew drove a car like that). There is no logic to my anxiety.
I’ve gotten the question how I feel when I am anxious. I can’t really explain it other than it feels like my body is filled with maggots crawling under my skin. I can’t be still so I start to fiddle with my hands or feet, pull a hem on my shirt. If I’m in a crowd (I hate crowds and I hate people bumping into me and touch me deliberately or accidentally) I go quiet and sometimes I freeze. If I have the option I leave. If I don’t then I try to hide.
Let’s get to the purpose of this post – How do I deal with this shit then?
1. I don’t
I know how this sounds but sometimes I just can’t do anything but see it through. Especially if it’s the panic attacks and they happen when I am away from home. I do have medicine to take but I more often than not forget it at home. I often get my panic attacks at night when I can’t sleep. I’m naturally in bed at that time so I am in a safe space. That helps a lot with just riding it out. Safe spaces over all is good when there is nothing else to do. There is a reason why I sleep with my face half covered. I also have a duvet that weighs 10 kg. That keeps me in place and soothes me so the attacks are lesser in bed. (okey, this last thing probably counts as dealing in some way.)
Yes, medicine. It’s a lifesaver sometimes. Never look down on pills. Never look down on people who need pills. If you can manage to get through an anxiety attack without then you are lucky. We are many who can’t. Despite what I said in the previous paragraph, that I can manage, I benefit a lot more from taking medicine than suffer through something I have no idea when it stops. Especially if it is a very tough attack. And sometimes it is soothing to just take that pill and for a while rest the brain and feel that numb sense. Disappear for a little while.
3. Road Rage
You read it right. It doesn’t happen that often anymore but being bipolar it’s easy to get a little too passionately aggressiv in traffic and I often get anxiety when I am in a hypomanic state. I am also easily enraged when I drive in that state and if someone does something, like drive too close behind me, I act all out of control. Yes, I have followed people for kilometers because they annoyed and sometimes wronged me in traffic. And all this is rooted in a kind of anxiety I feel when I get stressed by all the things I get upset by that I normally just wouldn’t care about (even though I hate people who drive too close to me always, no matter my mood.). But, road rage is an extremely dangerous way, obviously, to deal with anxiety. Especially when others are in the car.
I have a long history of overeating. I had a grandmother with a bakery and I more or less grew up there, with free access to all the cake and cookies and candy I could eat. Every day after school I was at my grandmother until my parents came home from work and naturally I ate. I hated school and always felt out of place, ever since first grade. I know now that I had anxiety already back then and I numbed the feelings with sugar. I still do at some degree although I actually have a medicine for it. It hasn’t made me less fat though. Not that it matters anymore.
5. Cutting and Bruising
Overeating is one way to self harm, another is to cut and bruise. I never did when I was young, at least not cut. I don’t think I was brave enough to hold a knife against my own skin. I did hurt myself by hitting though, the first time with a hammer when I was 11. But it wasn’t often or with any regularity, I kept to eating. It was more accessible with food then instruments to injure. So, I was a grown up, over 30 actually, when I used a knife the first time. My anxiety was so bad I didn’t know what to do or where to go. It wasn’t a panic attack, it was just “ordinary” anxiety. But I was panicking, I felt dead and I didn’t know what to do. So, I cut and I immediately felt calm. Blood has an effect on me that is quite frightening. If there is blood I’m alive. Right? I’m ashamed afterwards and I am reminded for weeks afterwards everytime I look at my hand. My hand is the only place I cut. The one place you can’t really cover unless you wear gloves. That’s the place I trash everytime I get an attack like that. When it is really bad I both cut and then hit the hand on the sink. When it isn’t as bad I only hit. I’m sick, and I know it. But I can’t stop it.
People who don’t cut often think that it is for attention but I can assure you that it has nothing to do with attention. The physical pain takes away the pain my mind is in. I can concentrate on something real. I can put words on what it is that is hurting. Explaining anxiety is hard, explaining a wound that is bleeding is easy. And the pain is soothing, I know that I am alive. Sometimes I feel like I live in a fantasy world where I might be alive or I might be dead, I am not really sure. I see myself from the outside and don’t recognise myself. I look in the mirror and can’t connect the face with me. It doesn’t help that my body image is all fucked up since I was little. So, a bloody, bruised hand reminds me that I am real.
6. Binge Shopping
You all know my (bad) habit of binge shopping manga. Well, it’s manga so it’s not all that bad. It has been my go to safe spot the last year or so but I am horrified for what will happen now that we are going to get so much worse economy (if you don’t know what happened you can read it here). Manga shopping has saved me many times from hurting myself. It isn’t cheap but it is safe and I get joy out of it. It’s pleasant to open a new package of manga, read it and then put it on the shelves until the next time you’ll read it again. It’s love. No dark self harm.
Nine Inch Nails. My Chemical Romance. Marilyn Manson. Survive Said the Prophet. coldrain. Depeche Mode. Linkin Park. Limp Bizkit. Outtrigger. The Phantoms… Okey, I can make this list longer but I’m gonna stop there. Where am I going with this? I listen to music. Rough music. And it’s loud. It might help but sometimes it just makes it worse depending on my mood. I like music and I always listen to music no matter but often when I have anxiety I need something that can give me an extra push to take my mind of the thing that is hard. If that even makes sense? Anyway, I listen to music and I prefer NIN before Justin Timberlake at those times.
8. Not Leaving Alone
I couldn’t come up with a better title for this. What I mean is that I almost never leave my home alone to go to the store for example. I can take the car and pick up the kids at school if I can just wait outside, in the car, but I rather not go to the grocery store (or any store) alone. If I have to go and do some grocery shopping alone I’ll go late at night when there are no people and then I rush through the store with my headphones on. I won’t go alone to family gatherings unless it’s to my parents or if they are going to wherever we are going. I need my partner with me then. So, my partner and/or my parents have to go with me to gatherings and I can go with my kids to the store. That’s about it, then I can stop the anxiety. If I go myself I 9 times out of 10 get anxiety. Not a severe most of the times but once it has started it will only build up to something bigger.
There are a lot of tips on the internet about how to deal with your anxiety; eat right, sleep so and so many hours, exercise and so on. It’s good and all but I want people to know that sometimes that isn’t enough. Sometimes none of it works at all. I have tried it all and even though I might have gotten a little bit better it never solved any issues. People are different and it is important to know that. Seek help if you have anxiety that hurts you. If you can tame your anxiety with those advises then that is all good but don’t be afraid to seek professional help if you don’t manage on your own. You are not bad, there is nothing wrong with you. You are not a loser for seeking help. Please, for your sake. Everybody deserves to live a life with as little anxiety as possible. And please, don’t deal with your anxiety like I do, because it is just stupid. I am stupid that way. I do however have a psychiatrist who yells at me now and then for all the stupid shit I come up with, having anxiety as a part of my bipolar. But you don’t have to live your life like me.
Okey, did I stress enough that you should seek help if you have anxiety? No? You should. Seek help I mean. Oh, I did stress it enough. Well, I’ll say it again; You should think about yourself and don’t give a fuck about what others think and seek help if you need it. It’s important because you are important.
Yes, well, this is how I (don’t) deal with my anxiety. I’m not as clever as I might seem sometime. At least not when it comes to my own mental health. Honestly, my anxiety is sometimes overpowering me and it’s often confusing me. I don’t always know how to handle it. It’s like the cat I had a while back, the cat that cuddled with me just to suddenly lay on the living room table and stare at me with a vicious murderous look. Some days he ran past me and jumped up and bit my leg, leaving nasty bite marks, just to minutes later come crawling up in my knee for a snuggle. That’s how puzzling my anxiety is at times. How do you deal with that? The cat moved, but who wants to take care of such an irrational anxiety?
Oh, I made a Ko-Fi because someone told me it would be a good idea now with all the crap going on in my life. So, if you want to you are more than welcome to share a coffee with me. It would help out with an anxiety ridden manga or two. Or just life in general.