Your Nerves are not the Same as My Anxiety

“Yeah, I get anxiety sometimes before job interviews and stuff, it sucks!”

“Everyone gets a little anxious sometimes!”

“Omg, seeing my ex totally gives me panic attacks lol.”

The term anxiety is often at times thrown about carelessly and almost unknowingly to those that do not understand what it is like to live with it on the daily.

What the “anxiety” to an average person feels like would most likely be as follows:

  • The nerves that twist at your stomach and almost make you feel as though you are going to throw up.
  • The moments where it feels as though your heart picks up several beats a minute.
  • Sweaty palms before an interview.
  • The feeling as though you cannot sit down or keep still.
  • An uneasy mind
  • A disturbed sleep cycle.

These are just to name a few of the things that take place before a big presentation, an interview, a first date, and so on. After it is over though, you are most likely not going to be feeling these symptoms again until the next big event that takes place, until the next presentation, until the next first date, etc.

This is what those of us with anxiety disorder feel every single day – times ten.

Now while I do not want to make it seem as though I am invalidating people that have very real and very scary symptoms of nerves and anxiety, I do find it hard to feel sympathy for those that get nervous every once and awhile and pass it off as anxiety.

For many years, I was getting nauseous on the daily. No matter what I ate – whether it was vegetables, gluten free foods, greasy foods, etc. – I was getting sick to the point of almost vomiting. Sometimes it didn’t even matter if I ate five minutes ago or two hours ago, almost every night I felt as though I was going to throw up everything in my stomach.  After several visits to GI specialists, a few scopes, scans of my gallbladder, food journals, and other forms of tests – they could not find anything wrong with me.

It was only after therapy that my stomach issues slowly dissipated far into the past – to the point that I sometimes forget about the period of 3 to 4 years that I spent feeling nauseated.

I had no idea that anxiety could affect the body to that degree and that badly.

In my worst anxiety times I would pick my fingers so badly to the point that I would have to wear socks on my hands to stop picking. Wearing nail polish never helped as it was another thing for me to pick and peel off of my nails. It would get even worse if it was finals week or if report cards were about to come out.

At my worst point, I couldn’t go into gas stations or convenience stores – my irrational anxiety brain telling me that there would be a shooting or robbery if I went in. You could forget the chances of me going into movie theaters, too. It got so bad that everywhere was dangerous to me – from gas stations to a Subway sandwich shop.  I wanted to be placed near the exits at restaurants so that I could run out the door if something were to happen and at every concert, I went to I had several plans of escape if a threat were to enter.

That was the way my anxiety brain worked. I knew that at every concert I went to that every person got checked by security, their bags were checked, and they were patted down – but my anxiety and fight or flight brains were confused by the amount of fear that I placed into my body. Everybody was a suspect and no place was safe.

This was how I lived for a very long time and still have the tendencies to get “sketched out” in situations that I am not used to.

I for many years struggled – and struggled terribly with anxiety. I wasn’t going out with friends, I was a home body to an unnatural sense,  I was having anxiety attacks weekly, and I was literally making myself sick with anxiety.

I overcame a lot of struggles to get where I am now.

So yes, the quickened heart rate, sweaty palms, the tendency to bite your fingers, and your uneven breaths are all normal to feel before events like tests, presentations, job interviews, exams, etc. Your nerves are not anxiety.

In a world where mental disorders such as Bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety are “aesthetically pleasing” for a Tumblr layout or a funny tweet, it is hard to take mental illness seriously.

It is important that we note that anxiety, true anxiety, is not the same as feeling nervous for an hour or two (or even a day) once in a while.

Anxiety is very real and very scary but also should not be confused with every day nerves.

“Feeling on the Verge”

A lot of times whenever I sit down and talk to my therapist I often at times can reflect and tell her about the moments where I had a breakdown, often telling her that I could “Just tell that I was on the verge”

But how does one explain these feelings?

On the verge is feeling as though you are standing on the edge of a cliff, half of your foot over the edge already – the arches and your heels remaining on stable cement while your toes hang right over. It is standing there and knowing that one simple gush of wind will send you over.

It is feeling the tears well up in the backs of your eyelids and constantly pushing them back – but also knowing that if one person says the wrong thing that it will release the tears.

It is a constant burden on your chest with an accelerated heart rate that beats almost too quickly against your chest wall.

It is sweaty palms – always.

It is feeling the quickened heart rate, the sweaty palms, and it is the burden on your chest – but you are also feeling numb and the constant switching between the two of them.

It is feeling the work you have to do physically piling on top of you – and you feeling as though that no amount of time in the world could get it done and knowing that one more paper is going to push you over the edge.

It is the feeling of begging something to happen, so you could just get over with it already.

Being on the verge means that you can feel yourself almost to the point of no return. On the verge it is the difference between crying and being okay. Being on the verge is knowing you just need one final push to send you spiraling. Sometimes it can feel as the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Some of us live our daily lives on the verge – almost waiting for that straw or for that gush of wind to send us over.

While we can be on the verge, we also know how it feels to come back down and to recover from our falls. That is what is most important to try to remember.

Why it is Okay to be Selfish

The word selfish is typically one that is looked down upon and looked at in a negative light. Not one person likes to be described with the adjective of selfish, but ultimately, in the world of mental illness and health – it is an adjective that is one of the most important things to be.

There are a lot of people that suffer with a form of mental illness, whether it be anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, ptsd, or so on. Some people have it in the slightest forms while others suffer in a more extreme way.

Those that suffer are typically those that you do not expect as mental illness can affect anyone – it does not matter your age, race, or gender.

Most people, like myself, give and bend over backwards for everyone and anyone – often at times putting others peoples needs before their own. So much so that they wind up shoveling emotions and feelings underneath almost convincing themselves that the needs and wants of others are more important than their own. Often at times they will put their needs on the back burner, convincing themselves that the needs of someone like a friend is most important, more important than their own emotions and feelings.
This leads to the burial of emotions and stress that eventually boil up – ready to be set off by the most minuscule things.

Not only does the selflessness of mental health mask our own feelings, it also is extremely exhausting. Some of us will hold ourselves to an insane number ,of standards when it comes to being there for others. We are not catering to our needs but to the needs of others and ultimately draining the energy needed to keep ourselves afloat.
I read somewhere once that the development of mental illness can also contribute to a development of a selfish personality.

Do I consider myself selfish? At times. Am I open about my need to be selfish? Always.

For those of us that have mental illnesses we need to constantly be aware of our wants and needs as humans due to the smallest change causing what could be a downward spiral.

Not only do we need to be aware of our bodies, but our mood as well.

Sleeping and eating on a regular schedule are vital to keeping our mood as stable as possible whenever it comes to self care.

For example, in mental illnesses such as Bipolar Disorder, tracking your mood is essential in staying up on it. It is noticing the most minute of changes in mood. It is essential to notice the changes so that those who are medicated can report it to a psychiatrist which may require change in medications as soon as possible.

You must be extremely aware, not only in your alone time, but when with other humans while being social.

Is my speech slurring due to talking too quickly? Are my conversations bouncing from place to place constantly due to my inability to focus on one topic? Are my responses appropriate? Is this how I act on the daily?

We must be in constant awareness of our mood and how we are feeling, why we are feeling, and to try to judge how long we will be in this state of feeling.

Mental health may also come with a selfish behavior, but that is okay.

I am not telling you to only look out for yourself and no one else, and to push people around for your own advantages – being selfish does not always have to be that negative.
So be selfish. For those that know you and love you – they will understand your need to be selfish and will be there to support you and will still be there whenever you come back.

The A word and defining the undefinable.

ab·er·ra·tion
noun
a departure from what is normal, usual, or expected, typically one that is unwelcome.

a characteristic that deviates from the normal type.

anx·i·e·ty
noun
a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks.

de·pres·sion
Noun
feelings of severe despondency and dejection.

The words above may be nothing more to you than a few words you learned for a psychology exam. A few vowels, broken into a few syllables that make the words easy to read. The definitions are short and simple and not complex in the slightest.

However, a select few of the people reading this right at this very moment know that words such as anxiety and depression are very different in their minds and everything but simple and easy to understand.

Hello, my name is Nikki. I am currently a college student and a waitress (and one day a week I can sell you some band tees as an angsty Hot Topic Associate). I have struggled with major anxiety ever since I was a child, and through the years, have gained other disorders to carry around with me, including depression and minor PTSD. I have come leaps and bounds, I have had great days and really bad ones. My panic attacks (and anxiety attacks – yes, there is a difference) are few and far between now, as I was having them all the time if you would’ve asked me three years ago.  I can go out with friends and my boyfriend without any major worry and guilt and I can go into gas stations late at night as opposed to waiting in the car with the doors locked – an anxiety attack on the brink of happening in those moments.

For as long as I could remember, I was a writer, and I loved everything about it. My first story was written in the fourth grade and I remember I wrote it in the back of my math notebook, it became over forty pages long, and it was about a girl that went into a haunted house at the end of the street.

Throughout the years, I have used writing as an escape. In my most anxious and lowest points, I would use things such as my characters to say the things that I couldn’t, and to use them as an escape from my reality. I could do anything I wanted and there were no rules and there was no right or wrong way to do it.

I started college in August of 2017 and that has sadly pulled me away from all my writing and has created a void yet again.

This blog was by the recommendation of my therapist whom I now see two times a week due to a downward spiral of very dark and scary emotions I experienced a week and two days ago.

Maybe you can escape with me. Maybe you can appreciate the writing, or maybe you are here to laugh at it, that is okay too. The reality is that I am just a girl who wants to write and get my writing out there.

Now that I’ve bored you with the small details of my life, from here on out I will write for you. I will write stories, characters, and poetry, some fictional, and some from my real life.

All I could ever hope for that maybe there is a girl, or guy, like me out there that gets it and understands it. Maybe the stories I write can be an escape like a lot of the books I read as a child were for me. I also want to open up a discussion about the reality and the horrifying truth of the way that mental illness can just rip us down and we still get up at the end of it all.

Anxiety is not a myth. Depression is not just a matter of no longer being sad. Mental illness is real and affects so many of us on the daily.

Thank you if you’ve made it this far – I promise all my writing from here on out will be better, more interesting, and less about me.

 

N;kk;