“Why are you so angry?”
“How come you never socialize, don’t you like these people?”
“Do something about it”
“Why don’t you face them with the truth?”
“Go ahead you’ll be fine all by yourself, what do you need me for?”
“You’re canceling this event, AGAIN?”
“But you said you were coming this time.”
These are all the things I grew up hearing from people without knowing the reason behind them.
I always considered myself as a shy introvert, and never really knew what the problem was.
But then came Nour.
She doesn’t call herself an advocate of mental health on Instagram for no reason.
She was there for me since day one, and I’m so grateful.
That problem I was telling you about, was nothing but anxiety.
Nour drove me to my first psychiatrist’ appointment in 2016. She made sure my anxiety wouldn’t push me to run away from it as she stayed in the waiting room patiently while I went on to discover what this anxiety means.
What is anxiety, really?
Anxiety is a reaction to something that might happen that is out of proportion. It’s thoughts and concerns, that last longer than 6 months and interfere with your life.
For me, it was the constant feeling that something bad is going to happen. A yet unexplained fear, affecting my day-to-day living. It was stomach pain, sweaty hands, headache and nausea all at once.
Sometimes, it was anxiety attacks or panic attacks.
Aren’t anxiety and panic attacks the same?
During an anxiety attack, a person is usually reacting to a stressor.
They would feel their heart racing and a shortness of breath, but it would all go away as soon as the stressor goes away.
A panic attack, on the other hand, doesn’t come in reaction to a stressor.
It’s unpredictable and unprovoked.
During a panic attack, a person usually feels like they’re having a heart attack, like they’re going to die.Add to that a series of physical symptoms which may include chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea.
What triggers anxiety?
It’s basically a combination of personal, genetics, and environmental factors.
Anxiety is different for each person, and I recommend seeing a psychologist to determine your own reasons for it.
How can I avoid being anxious?
Like I said, seeing a psychologist is the best option.
But for me, there are things I do on a daily basis that help me control it better.
1.Caffeine: I try to avoid caffeine as much as possible as it may trigger or worsen anxiety.
2.Never Skipping Meals: When I skip meals, my blood sugar drops. When my blood sugar drops, my body confuses hunger with anxiety. When you’re hungry you get jittery hands and an upset stomach, and same goes for anxiety.
3.Breathing slowly: Another symptom of anxiety is breathing uncontrollably fast. I always make sure to try to stop myself from overreacting by inhaling through my nose, and exhaling through my mouth.
4.Sleep: Getting at least 7 hours of sleep is necessary for me, or I won’t wake up with a fully rested mind.
5.Start a journal: Write your thoughts, watch them as they become real, and realize how silly they are. They say it’s all in your mind, so change that.
I follow these tips myself, and other tips my psychologist recommended.
I can manage my anxiety better, even when it hits me with no warning!
That was something I never thought was possible, until Nour helped.
How to help someone with anxiety, the dos and don’ts
What to do:
1. Always make sure to let them know they’re not alone in this. And actually mean it.
2. Give them a tight hug, until it doesn’t hurt anymore.
3. Pamper them in any way they like! Chocolate, movies, anything would do.
4. Talk to them and listen to them. Understand them and let them know that you’ll do your best to help- and again, mean it.
5. Check up on them from time to time!
6. Things you could say that could help:
• I’m here for you
• I probably don’t understand you, but I’ll try if you let me
• I care about you, you are not alone in this
• What can I do to help?
• I don’t want to leave you alone, I’m coming over
• It’s going to be okay
• I know it may seem like the end of the world, but from my perspective it isn’t, and I want you to understand that
• Let’s do something else and we’ll discuss this in exactly 15 minutes. (This keeps their mind off of it for a while)
What not to do:
Tell them these things:
• Other people have it worse.
• You think you’re anxious? You should hear about what happened with…
• That’s not anxiety, are you sure?
• Why would you need a psychologist? You’re not mentally ill.
• When I was your age, I had more problems and I wasn’t as scared as you are now. I was strong.
• You should pray, it will go away that way.
• These are silly problems, what the hell are you worried about?
• You’re being stupid, come on.
• You’re just overreacting
Anxiety isn’t exactly every person’s dream but it’s real, and it happens.
I was lucky enough to have someone explain it all to me, thank you Nour!
Thank you to everyone who was ever there for me and still is, feeling like you’re not alone is what really helps.
Thank you to my understanding family, to my supportive husband, and my amazing friends.
I’m one lucky person.