HOW ANXIETY CAN AFFECT YOU IN UNEXPECTED WAYS

Most anxiety triggers evolve into a physical manifestation or a noticeable psychological response. You sweat, you are worried, your heart races…. If you have anxiety chances are you have experienced one or all of those symptoms. There are long term effects to anxiety that can impact you in unexpected ways. You might be having one of these struggles at a moment when you are not in the throes of anxiety. However, repeated bouts of anxiety effect one’s cognitive ability, to varying degrees.

Anxiety can affect your memory. Anxiety impacts your ability to focus and that can have a deteriorating effect on your ability to consolidate memories and hinder recall. This isn’t to say that it’s a prelude to a deeper psychological condition or deteriorating of your memory but lack of focus can impact quick queues you need for memory. A classic example of this is remembering someone’s name. Do you get anxious meeting new people? Do you have trouble remembering new people’s names? I sure do.

Anxiety can harm your self-esteem. Having anxiety means you are acutely aware of how you feel and because of our social construct you are aware that it’s not excepted as normal. This can begin to erode away your self-esteem and cause you to exhibit withdraw like symptoms such as changing how you dress, where you look when you are in a crowd and the tone of your voice when speaking to others. These are often subtle but real. Next time you are in a crowd of people, be aware of where your eyes are. Are you looking at the ground? Or are you engaging people head up with eye contact?

Anxiety can impact your immune system. The more you worry the more your nervous system demands resources from your body to accommodate your mind. When something negative happens in your life do you a day or two later end up with the sniffles? This is pretty common actually, the brain demands a lot from your body and this is why it is so important to get enough sleep and eat well. Your immune system can be over taxed very easily, there are germs everywhere and if you’re worried you are sending your immune system into battle with one hand tied behind its back.  

Embrace yourself, Embrace the Light. You are doing awesome, one day at a time.

Anxiety could cause you to have a “break out”. Now this is often exclusive to younger people, however from time to time even those of us well into our adult lives get acne. Worry and anxiety can tax your immune system and one of the results of this can be a break out of acne. I remember when I was a teenager WAY BACK in the dark days of the 80’s  we had all sorts of acne medicine you could by over the counter. I used to get break outs from time to time and upon reflection it was often when I was anxious. That anxiety was a neurological trigger for me that pumped out hormones and as a result I had break outs creating EVEN MORE anxiety.

Anxiety sucks, it’s not cut and dry as to how it affects you and what your triggers are. Just remember no matter how bad it gets, or how crappy you feel, there are millions of us out there who have it. You aren’t alone. This post was more a pep talk really, from someone suffering through some if not all of the above. If I can make it, so can you. One day at a time, you got this !

Stabilize

I sat in the waiting room clutching papers in my hand. For two weeks I had prepared to tell my doctor that I finally began seeing a therapist and that the diagnosis from her standpoint was leaning towards bipolar disorder. Awkwardly I gathered my things together once my name was called and followed the nurse for blood pressure and weight checks. Weighing in at 210 pounds threw me off guard at first, but I suppose that’s what happens when you stop drinking every day.

The nurse handed me the same GAD checklist that gets filled out each visit. I hadn’t seen my doctor in a little over a month so my numbers were up higher than in previous visits. As I would fill out “More than half the days”, I could feel that I was getting beside myself again. I should’ve been better than this. I should’ve been normal.

The doctor came in the room almost as quickly as the nurse left it. Before I could even allow the “hello” to escape her lips, the paperwork was extended in her direction and I told her I had gone to a therapist. “We think I may have bipolar disorder. I’m not throwing chairs or anything like that but after reading off the symptoms, a lot of things make a lot of sense. The high sex drive, the huge interest in hobbies only to drop them within a week or so, the days of not being able to make myself get off of the couch, my lack of focus and excess of indecision, it’s all here and then some.”, I said while pointing at the bipolar information sheet.

“Well I had my suspicions, but getting a second opinion from a therapist definitely solidifies a treatment option. Let’s try weaning off of one of your antidepressants and adding a mood stabilizer.”, she said.

I want to be clear by saying that I’m not glad that I am on another medication, but I am glad that I may be one step closer to finding a way to live life without my life getting in the way of… Well… My life. The problem I have with my mental health is that I wake up with either no motivation to get anything done, or so much motivation that I run errands and still not get anything done. I can have a great day until a derogatory comment is made to either me or a friend, and it sends my mood into a sullen, sarcastic, and depressing cloud for either hours or the rest of the day. I feel as though I have never had any control over my sensitivity or emotions, even as a child.

It has been four days since I have begun the process to stabilize. The new medicine I am trying is called Topiramate and if it’s anything like my Lexapro, it probably is something that will take time for my body to chemically register before a difference is noticed. Honestly, the biggest side effects I feel today are lethargy and extreme dizziness. It is as if I have hit the bottle hard enough to have woken up drunk and held onto it. This medicine is also used to treat seizures as well as migraines, so I feel that it plays with a different part of the mind than I am used to, so hopefully a change will come soon. According to other articles, it takes around five to six days for the side effects to dissipate.

This is only the beginning of this journey, and I write to keep you in the loop about this process in case any of you ever go through the same thing. If you feel as though you need help with mental health please reach out to someone. You are never alone. I am available for contact via social media if anyone ever needs an ear to listen. You can find my contact information as well as my other blog posts at www.outtodry.blog.

Take care everyone!

Fear Heckles Us from the Sideline

While my insights here point to my own personal fight with anxiety, I believe anyone overcoming a sizable obstacle can relate.

At this point I am well beyond the stage where I’m confused about my body’s involuntary reactions to certain situations. The heavy chest, hard-to-breathe, head tingling, inability to concentrate, and tunnel vision feeling is hardly new. I’ve got years under my belt with this; therefore, I have developed coping and avoidance techniques to help me get by. Albeit, not always the healthiest choices. What happens after we finally jump over the obstacles in front of us is unknown to me. The unknown is something I am not very comfortable with.

I have put in a lot of muscle to appear normal and cheerful to the outside world, and it works. Any time I tell someone I suffer from social anxiety they say “Really? I had no idea.” That is a mark in the win category for me – or so I tell myself. My mask continues to conceal my true identity. I’m kind of a superhero (or villain) in that way. I’m not really sure which, or even if they are interchangeable.

There other side to overcoming these obstacles is what I am fighting for. When I overcome it, there will be new expectations that others put on me and I put on myself. I’m not sure what this looks like, but I have been thinking about it a lot lately.  I have lived with this for my entire life, and it has become deeply rooted in me and my personality. I’m not sure what I look like without it. What would replace it? Or perhaps there would just be this empty hole that used to be filled with anxiety, irrational thoughts, and nerves. I have a hard time believing that it will vanish, even if it is slow to dissolve. Something must take its place.

One-day fear will no longer hold me back: I will be able to move forward without questioning things to a pulp and gauging its trigger effect. On the other hand, others will hold me more accountable and some things I don’t enjoy doing won’t be so easily side-stepped. Half of my consciousness says I’m doing this to free myself from the tangles of fear and to open doors I never thought possible. Though the reality is I would also be free to do things I don’t enjoy. I believe that the fear of progress is preventing me from moving forward more quickly. Though I know this is not a race and the finish line is a rather gray area, I can’t help but to think I should be moving faster.

If it’s possible to overcome this hurdle, I’m trying to get a good picture of what the other side looks like. To anyone who has suffered from mental health, an addiction (yes to cigarettes and sugar too, so easily brushed aside by many non-sufferers), or an unhealthy attachment to another person, the other side can be terrifying. Even if in our hearts we know that the other side must be a better and safer place. Even when we spend time and energy to overcome obstacles, fear continues to heckle us from the sideline.