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Anxiety. The cause for pain in children, teenagers, and adults. An unnecessary pain that leaves us asking so many questions, all leading back to the same singular question: Why? If we are being specific (which, in the case of anxiety, we must do so), then it can also be "Why me?" or, "Why not somebody else?" Unfortunately, that is a question that will most likely never be answered, and if it is ever answered, then that would truly be a well-needed (and deserved) break for all of those who suffer from anxiety, if not a miracle. But, alas, we do not yet have that answer of which we have been looking so long for, but we have each other. Here is my advice that may hopefully help you with your anxiety, and remember, before you begin: we are in this together... You are NOT alone.
Before we delve into the monster that anxiety is, I just wanted to make clear that I am aware that it is normal for everyone to have anxiety. I am not trying to single anyone out. What should be known about anxiety, is that yes, it is a normal response to stress, and it would be worrying if a person wasn't experiencing this emotion through hard times, but there is a catch: anxiety, despite being a normal emotion, can often time be worse in others. Let me say it now: if you are experiencing a disproportionate level of anxiety, then it may become a medical disorder, and you should go see someone immediately. Using the United States as an example, anxiety affects around forty-million people, and it is one of the most common mental disorder. Unfortunately, only an approximate thirty-seven percent receive proper treatments and care. That is not ideal, especially considering that some of the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder are:
- Feeling restless
- Feelings of intense worry that you cannot control
- Having difficulty paying attention to things
- Easily angered
To be fair, everyone experiences these symptoms here and there, but those with GAD will almost always experience them persistently, and unfortunately to even more extreme levels. There is so much more to anxiety, but this is a lot of information to absorb, so lets now jump straight into how to handle these attacks of anxiety.
Handling Your Anxiety Attacks
Understanding what anxiety is may seem like the most difficult part of learning to cope with your anxiety, but it isn't. It is actually learning the process of how to cope with it, and how to apply these methods. I don't want this to seem like one of those handouts you get from a psychologist, so let me delve deeper into what it is like for me, and how I handle it based off of what I knew, and what I have learned since.
It started (and got bad) for me in year eleven (I am currently in year twelve). I was in Seattle at Chief Sealth International High School for a competition with the school band and choir. Everything was going pretty good. The choir had finished performing (I, in the choir) and we had been seated in the audience to watch the rest compete. Nothing special happened, and nobody expected anything too 'out there' to happen either. Well, we definitely did not expect what happened next... My friend received a call, and she and some of our other mates exited the performance hall crying and freaking out. Me, being the plain person I was, thought nothing of it. After some time, things escalated and the next thing I remember was crying surrounded by friends and teachers. I cannot, for the life of me, remember what happened in between, but I do remember why we were crying, and I will never forget. We had received rumour that a student from our school killed herself. I knew this person, and I really hoped that it wasn't true, but we soon thereafter got our answer when a teacher got the call. It was confirmed. She did indeed kill herself... Everyone broke down, especially those of us who knew this person we had now just lost. This was my descent into further anxiety, depression, and eventually, suicidal thoughts and suicidal actions. I hated life... At that moment, I questioned why to even bother continuing on, and I still struggle with this question, but I think I have some valid reasons which connect directly back to the main question; how do we handle these anxiety attacks? Firstly, do some deep breathing exercises. In through the nose, out through the nose. This first method can help calm you down, making it the goto (and preferred) choice for calming anxiety. The second thing I recommend is to focus on individual things in your environment, i.e. a lamp, a water bottle, a poster, a computer, some rubbish laying on the floor, a stapler etc. This will encourage you to think about that object in particular, and distracts you from any thoughts that are causing problems. The last method (which is kind of many methods packed together) is one that you may have heard before: Think about your loved ones. Like, the actual and proper loved ones. This doesn't limit you to your family. In my opinion, the term "loved ones" really means "one or more people that you cannot live without and vice versa." That one person that you always talk to, or have so much in common with. They are your loved ones. Why? Because they understand, and that is the most vital part. Making sure your friends actually care and aren't bothered by when you need a shoulder to cry on. Friends like that are so amazing, and we should ALL cherish them because they are so, so valuable. But it is as simple as that; think about them. I'm not telling you to tell yourself that they would miss you, or that they would be hurt (even though both of those are VERY true), but think about all of the reasons that they love you (as said by them). These reasons (and hopefully there are many reasons) are the reasons why they love you, care for you, and why they spend time with you. They are worth the time, and they think that you are too. They love you so much, and they support you. They want to help, so please, let them help. Because anxiety is one bitch of nature, and we can't deal with it alone... You are loved. Your friends love you. I love you. They care for you, and so do I. Please, keep fighting through this pain because that is one thing we should all remember as humans: pain is temporary. It is only up to us to fight to make it go away, but we need to acknowledge that we don't have to fight that battle alone... Because despite what you may think, there is an army standing behind you, ready to fight alongside of you.
You are cared about.
You are important.
You are needed.
You are loved.
Please keep fighting...