health

This is what it feels like to suffer from anxiety.

By CHLOE ROBERTS.

You wake up. Something doesn’t feel right. Something about today just feels… Off. You have the same amount to do today as every other day but for some reason, you’re already stressed.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored bu Hivita. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.

You think about work. All of a sudden, everything you have to do today seems impossible. You know you’re crap at your job. You know that everybody in the office talks about how you screw up all the time. You know that there’s no way you’ll be able to get everything done that you need to get done. You know that you’re a fraud and that you shouldn’t even have the job that you have. You know that today is the day someone’s going to notice that you have no idea what you’re doing. You know that those few times you did well were just flukes.

You have to get out of bed, but for some reason the idea of leaving your room is petrifying. Should you call in sick? You can’t – you’ve done that too many times now. The idea of hearing your boss sigh down the phone line is enough to get you as far as the bedroom door.

But as soon as you put your hand on the doorknob, you’re crippled with fear. Call your boss. No, don’t – there’s too much to do. No, call. No, don’t. They already think you’re terrible; calling in sick again will only make things worse.

Somehow, you make it to the office. But you’re focussing so hard on not completely freaking out that it’s hard for you to concentrate on anything else. You sit at your desk, silently. You try to practice the breathing you’ve learned. Breathe in, breathe out. Don’t cry.

Oh god – somebody wants you to go to a meeting. Inside, your body panics. You try to maintain your composure while your heart beats faster and faster. You break into a cold sweat. Everything around you feels surreal but perfectly normal at the same time. The room feels smaller. The idea of looking up from your computer, let alone having to speak, is almost too much. Inside, your mind is screaming.

Your hands start shaking as you try to cover up the fact it feels like you’re having a heart attack at this very moment. People around you are chatting and laughing. WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU? Yesterday you were laughing with them. Now you’re frozen at your desk, breathing like you’ve just run a marathon and staring at the floor. WHY ARE YOU SUCH A FAILURE? Somebody asks if you’re okay. Oh god. They’ve noticed that you’re falling apart. You must look ridiculous. Why can’t you just feel the way you did yesterday? SNAP OUT OF IT YOU IDIOT.

Your heart beats faster. It feels like it may burst out of your chest. Your breathing gets heavier. Your whole body shakes. What if this is a heart attack? What if you’re about to die? No, you know that you’re not. You know you’re just panicking. But if you know that, why can’t you just stop? You’re an adult. You have work to do. Stop being such a baby and get it together.

You can’t. It’s impossible to sit in silence any longer. Whatever is bubbling up on the inside is about to explode out of you. But you can’t let that happen in front of anyone. Quick – hide. The bathroom is best.

You spend half an hour hiding on the toilet. You want to go back to work but you’re frozen. Like if you move an inch everything will fall apart. The only thing that eventually gets you up is the decision to go home. As quickly as you can, you pack your stuff and leave. No explanations. You know you’re going to be in trouble, but right now you’d do anything to avoid erupting in front of your colleagues.

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Somehow you make it home. You crawl into bed and close your eyes. You just want to sleep, but you can’t. You can’t turn off your brain. You can’t stop thinking about how badly you screwed up today. You promised yourself you wouldn’t let this happen again. You’re getting a reputation for being weird. STOP IT.

This is what it feels like to suffer from anxiety.

Your brain is flooded with negative thoughts that you can’t switch off. You know you shouldn’t believe them, but they seem so true. You lose control of your body and the ability to calm yourself down. The symptoms of a panic attack are sometimes so severe, that people often mistake them for a heart attack.

You want to be able to switch it all off, but you can’t. And that frustration only makes things worse. It’s crippling, debilitating and terrifying.

I’ve lost jobs, partners and friends becauseI suffer from anxiety. But that was before I knew how to manage it.

I found the most important step was being honest about it. It’s just like any other illness, so there is nothing to be ashamed of. As soon as I accepted that, it became so much easier to deal with. Telling people in your work and personal life that anxiety is something you suffer from, takes the pressure off you having to face it alone when it occurs.

I’ve also made sure to get on a treatment plan that works for me. There are so many options – therapy, medication (with advice from a healthcare professional), meditation, diet and supplements, exercise… Not every option will work for every person, but it’s important to figure out what works for YOU.

Anxiety will probably always be a part of my life. But I’ve learned to manage it so that days like the one I’ve described above are few and far between. But most importantly – I’ve learned to accept that when days like that do occur, it’s not my fault. I suffer from anxiety, an illness like any other, and as long as I’m doing everything I can to manage it, that’s enough.

If you can relate to my experiences and find yourself in the early stages of anxiety, don’t ignore it… do something about it now, seek advice and help from a healthcare professional.

Hivita® Stress is a high potency combination of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and amino acids to help relieve nervous tension, stress and mild anxiety. Find out more at www.hivita.com.au, where you’ll also find tips, recipes, videos and articles covering stress and healthy living, and even a competition to win roses for a year. You’ll also find the full range of Hivita vitamins and supplements, available to buy online – there’s currently an introductory offer on the website, where for every full priced item you buy, you receive another (up to the same value) for free. (Ends 15.12.13. See website for details)

Do you or does anyone you know suffer from anxiety? 

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