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Anxiety is the New Black
by Samantha Smith on August 21, 2015
So let's talk about anxiety. You don't need a chronic illness to suffer from it. More people suffer from anxiety than we probably realize. Lately, it's been quite a struggle for me. I used to feel like I had it under control, but recently it's been controlling me. When you're chronically sick, I think we all suffer from different degrees of anxiety. When we go to the doctor, a new doctor, take new meds, wonder if this new issue/symptom is something serious, and getting/keeping a job are just some of the worries we deal with on a daily basis. These seemingly simple tasks or daily activities can feel heightened and we begin to deal with them differently. Recently I read a //www.buzzfeed.com/annakopsky/whatchu-know-about-anxiety#.fdjVLkDXRn">Buzzfeed article that I really related with, especially with how my anxiety has been lately. Just like any invisible illness, there are many misconceptions about anxiety. When I feel the anxiety coming, it's paralyzing and scary. The fear is unbelievably crippling, and the only feasible response is to panic. Breathing becomes sporadic and almost impossible. It's as if your skin lights on fire and you're burning from the inside out. You want to scream for help, but your voice doesn't want to work. Tightness begins in your chest and you wonder "is this how I'm going to die?" I've experienced that type of anxiety attack more times than I'd like. Quite a few times lately. Sometimes I can feel it coming and I'll go to my mom for help. If she's not around for me to talk to in person to calm myself down, I call her for help. She's seen me through my worst, and more often than not, she can talk me down from the panic. When moments like this happen more frequently, you can become anxious about being anxious. Thinking about that makes you anxious, and you're stuck in a vicious cycle that you can't get out of. So what do you do? What works for me might not work for others. Recently I shared this picture on my Instagram. One of my go-tos will always be music. I have different playlists on my phone for different moods/issues. I urge you all to do the same. And there's just something about that gangsta rap. (winky face) Lately for me, any form of cardio has helped; especially running and Zumba. There's something about the music (I always run to music) and the movement of both of those exercises that clears my brain of all the toxic thoughts. Since I started NATPARA like some of the other bloggers have, I've been able to do more physical activities. I can't push past my limits, but I'm able to connect my mind and body together to move again. Recently, I shared on social media about what running/Zumba/fitness has done for me the last few weeks or so. "Today I took a #mentalhealth day. I needed a break from reality and to just take a beat to concentrate on myself. I read, I wrote, I slept, and I ran. I've never been a #runner. I frankly always hated it and never understood why people did it. Until recently. One day a few weeks ago I was just pissed off. Frustrated at life. So I decided to run. It was such a rush. My anxiety decreased, stress fell away, and my body relished in the movement. I was exhausted but I did it. Every quarter mile was closer to relief. Each step gave me peace. Today I ran two miles. TWO! A few days ago I ran two miles. The day before that, two miles. I leave tired and sore, but also empowered and stronger. I'm an all-in or an all-out kind of person. My body and I decided to push, and I did. I made it. I'll continue to make it. I may not be able to go as fast, or as long, or as far as healthy people, but I'm doing this for ME. It's keeping me sane, keeping me together, and most of all, giving me the opportunity to take my life back. Screw #chronicillness #chronicpain #Hypoparathyroidism #gastroparesis. I'm stronger than you! And some day, I'll run so damn fast you'll never be able to catch me." I know my life won't be how I planned it. Struggles such as the anxiety I've been dealing with will come and go throughout my life, and I'm going to have to find ways to deal with it. I would like to offer some advice to those who are dealing with anxiety: DON'T HIDE IT. Seek some help or guidance. If you're not comfortable talking to someone, grab a self-help book and see if it helps you. Find what helps you to keep it from controlling you completely. And most importantly, don't be ashamed to say "I struggle with anxiety." I'm here to tell you that it’s okay, and you will be okay. I'd also like to offer advice to those out there who might know someone with these struggles, or you suspect they might be dealing with it. If someone starts to panic, has an over the top reaction(s) to everyday situations, or simply doesn't seem themselves, don't make them feel like it's silly, or something to hide and be ashamed of. The worst thing you can do to someone mid-panic is to tell them to relax or calm down, and that it's not that bad. In the moment of panic, IT IS that bad. Try your best to be mindful of what we tell you we need, and sometimes it's as simple as being left alone. One of the best things you can do for someone you care about, whatever condition they may suffer from, is do some research. It's the effort in trying to understand that goes a long way. We all have our issues. No one out there is as together as they may seem. We're all fighting battles. They may all be different, but we all deserve compassion and understanding. I know, I know, easier said than done. But the outcome will be worth it. You can help change someone's life.
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