Today is going to be a little bit more of a serious post. I’ve been wanting to talk about this for a little while now but wasn’t really sure how to explain it. See, I have had social anxiety for a very long time now. So if I’m put in new situations, or I have to meet new people, or if I’m in a large crowds it makes me very nervous and can lead to panic attacks. I know when it started, but as I’ve mentioned before I don’t want to talk about that part of my past. Basically when I was younger I was put in dangerous and upsetting situations and unfortunately this has affected many aspects of my life.
Yesterday my boyfriend and I went to meet his best friend. I’d been putting off meeting her for a year and a half, but yesterday he “persuaded” me to go. This involved going to her house and meeting her, her mum, boyfriend, and sister. For me this is such a stressful situation. What if they hate me? What if I embarrass myself? What if I have a panic attack and they think I’m a freak? But I went, and I was terrified, but my boyfriend held my hand the whole time and helped calm me down and I’m glad I went because they’re all lovely.
Everyone who has anxiety will have a slightly different experience. For me, I tend to overthink things. I’ll have bad thoughts about the situation and I’ll think of all the awful things that could happen. I won’t look new people in the eye, I’ll turn my head away, and won’t talk. And if I do talk it’s usually about someone else to try and divert the attention away from me. I’ll play with my hair and clothes and pull my sleeves over my hands. I’ll tap my feet and dig my nails into my hands. My breathing will get faster and shallower and that’s when I panic. I’ll start to cry and struggle to breathe and then I’ll try to keep it in so I don’t look like a freak, which ends up making it worse. I’m not an expert, and I’m definitely not qualified to give advice but I’m going to try it anyway. So here’s Amy’s Top Tips for Dealing with Anxiety:
- Panic Attacks. I know it feels like you’re going to die, and because of that it can be difficult to think logically. But what I do is try to remove myself from the stressful situation/person if possible. Lay your hands flat on a flat surface and push down. Put your head against a flat surface if you can, and close your eyes. Count your breaths, up until the count of ten then start counting them again, then repeat this until your breathing is better.
- Bad thoughts. People with anxiety tend to exaggerate the situation, and I do this a lot! So what I do is write down all the bad things that could possibly happen. (And I love making lists so this is great 😛 ) Then go through the list as if you were another person. How likely is it that these bad things will happen? And what could you do if this problem actually occurs? For me, feeling prepared helps a lot.
- Stressful situations. A lot of everyday situations can become really stressful, and there have been a lot of times where I don’t want to do anything and I can’t even get out of bed. But it’s a viscous cycle, the more you avoid triggering situations, the more anxious of those situations you become. So do try and do things that make you anxious, and I know that’s so difficult but you can put things in place to help reduce anxiety. Try meditating before, or listening to music, go out with people you trust, go out to familiar places etc.
Clearly I’m not a doctor, so if your anxiety is seriously effecting your life you need to speak to family or friends or teachers, or go see your doctor. Please don’t suffer in silence, and if anyone reading this wants to get in touch or if anyone’s having a bad day they can always talk to me 🙂