Today’s blog post is something I’ve wanted to write for a while but would cringe whenever I sat down to write it. With it being such a sensitive topic that no one likes to talk about; I wanted to be sure I wrote this perfectly, so those who don't suffer from it could understand the struggle, and those who do could know they're not crazy nor alone.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is defined in Merriam-Webster’s medical dictionary as; "an anxiety disorder caused by excessive anxiety that is difficult to control and causes impairment in daily functioning.”
Major symptoms include:
● Worrying 24/7 (sometimes not even sure what you’re worrying about and then worrying about that)
● Indecisiveness (fear of making the wrong decision)
● Incapable of relaxing
● Tension headaches
● Feeling as if you can’t concentrate
● Being easily startled
Symptoms of panic attacks include:
● Racing heart
● Out of body feeling/loss of control
● Weakness, dizziness
● Chest pains
At this point, you’re probably thinking, “Well, what’s your story about anxiety?” Before I open up, I just want y'all to know that I haven’t shared my story with many people, so bear with me. My anxiety began in middle school. I can’t remember if it was the seventh or eighth grade, but I know it was one. I remember every day I would end up having a panic attack and my teachers, school nurse, and even my family didn’t believe me. They thought I was making it up because I hated school or something. I remember sitting in my teacher’s office one day, on my third panic attack that hour, when the school’s police officer walked in. He told me if I didn’t return to class, he’d "Have to arrest me.”
With all the doubt, confusion, and hush-hush about anxiety, most people believe someone diagnosed with a mental illness is automatically crazy, psycho, and different than the rest of society. There’s a stigma attached to mental illnesses: doctors with white coats, mental hospitals, dangerous, loony, crazy, and much more. Most people believe those with mental illnesses look different as if "I have ____" is branded on their foreheads. However, did you know many celebrities suffer from anxiety attacks?! Oprah, Emma Stone, Ellie Goulding, John Mayer and even Beyoncé herself are among a few who suffer. And you could never tell, could you?
So how does an anxiety attack feel? It varies from person to person but for me it feels as if I’m having an out of body experience, I have difficulty concentrating, and a racing heart. You know how you get nervous when giving a presentation, taking a test, or going to a job interview? Yeah, times that by ten for me.
I’ve noticed a major difference since I began blogging and styling clients/photo shoots. It has gotten me out of my comfort zone, which is something I needed, badly. So my advice for those suffering from GAD: get out of your comfort zone. Seriously, this will be the toughest thing ever but so good in the long run.
A year ago, I knew I wanted to be a successful blogger and wardrobe stylist but didn’t know how I could get myself out there. The fear of rejection alone stopped me for a while. One day, I realized I had two choices: I could either let anxiety consume me or face it head on and follow my dreams. I decided on the latter.
Though I still suffer from anxiety, I began treating it and got it under control the summer before I started high school. I used prescription medicine for a while but quickly switched to something else after experiencing side effects. Below I’ve explained other ways I manage it.
● Yoga: Last semester I took a yoga class. 9 am every morning. Some days I struggled to get there on time, (if you know me, you know I hate mornings), but once I was there, I was glad I hadn't skipped. I felt much better, body and mind wise. If you can’t afford to go to a yoga studio, YouTube it instead.
● Repeating over and over where you are/what you’re doing: I know this may seem dumb but I’ve found when I feel a panic attack coming on if I repeat to myself where I am and what I’m doing, it helps distract me.
● Repeating, “The past is the past and you can’t change that.” : This is another saying I use. Only this is when I’m worrying about something, usually something that I happened six years ago. Weird I know but that’s what anxiety does. It causes you to remember those dumb things you did back in middle school and worry about it for days. When this happens, I repeat the saying above. Again, it distracts me from what I’m worried about so I can focus on more important things.
● Sam-e: Okay, y’all I love this stuff. It’s a dietary supplement that helps with anxiety, depression, etc. I get mine at a health food store. You don't need a prescription but I would recommend talking with your doctor before starting anything.
● Treat yourself day: I’m a total sucker for a treat yourself day. I mean we all need them, especially when life gets stressful. It doesn’t have to be an expensive spa trip, shoot it can even be a day of watching Netflix (my personal favorite). You just need to take a couple of hours once a week or so doing something you love and relaxes you.
If you do suffer from anxiety, I hope this will help you understand that you’re not alone. It doesn’t mean you’re crazy and you can learn to manage it.
If you don’t suffer from anxiety and you only get one thing out of reading this, then understand there will be days when we need time to ourselves to recoup. We are not crazy, making it up, lazy, or any other stigma that’s been attached to having anxiety. Give us a little space, but also let us know you’re there if we need it. *mic drop….Styled by Becca out*