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Understanding is Everything

Something I have noticed lately is that a lot of people have an ignorance towards anxiety, panic attacks etc. Some people go through life without any major anxiety (lucky them), for others though, anxiety is something that plagues life and it is not something that can be turned off like a switch, it is something that needs to be worked through. Think of it as a chapter in your life story, as you go through it you WILL get to the end and sometimes it is where the book will end, but also there is always the possibility that the story will pick back up again later in life but for now, you are content with how the story closed.

Someone I love dearly has had severe anxiety over the past few months and I completely understand their situation. It was only five years ago that I was in the same place. Crying constantly for no reason, not understanding why you’re acting the way you are, overreacting to every little thing. You feel like you are watching your life from the outside, you’re doing things and saying things you don’t want to, but you can’t stop yourself from doing it and you become so frustrated with yourself and your situation. It affects everyone around you and it takes a little while to realize that the stress is not just on you but is spreading throughout the people around you, your family and friends. They worry about you, they are constantly on edge not knowing what to do or say and it is exhausting for everyone but it is a situation you must realize is no one’s fault. It just happens!

A lot of people do not want to be around when life gets to this stage and you come out of this chapter in your life with less friends but true friends, because the ones who stick around are the ones who truly care about you and love you. I came out of it with two or three people who had stuck by me through everything. Who came to hangout with me when I didn’t want to leave my house, who text me every day just to check in with me, or would just make me forget for a few hours that feeling of panic I struggled to shake and I will be forever grateful to them. On the other hand, I had people in my life who couldn’t deal with it and were not around during that time but are still part of my life, I don’t hold it against them in any way. It is not an easy situation to surround yourself with and I completely understand why they took their space during that time.

People who have the attitude of “Why can’t they just get over it?”, “What is wrong with them?” really irritate me. Unless you yourself or someone close to you have been through something like this you do not understand the personal frustration of not being in control of your moods or emotions, of feeling out of control in your own life, watching more and more people fade from your life not knowing how to deal with you. It is pure ignorance to think this is something that can be fixed overnight. It takes time, everyone takes a different route and the time it takes to get back to yourself is not a set amount of time and there is not a defined route, everyone takes a different road of recovery. When you come out the other side, you are a different person, you see things differently and you are more conscious of the emotions of others. I am nothing like the person I was five years ago, I have changed for the better. I’ve had my moments of relapse, they last a few hours, a day or two at most but I have people in my life who support me and a positive outlook on the world and it has made all the difference.

So for those of you around people going through this, support them, listen to them, and help them see there is an end to this stage in their lives, remember it is only a chapter of life’s story and it is just a more challenging one. It is not easy at times, if you need to take a little distance for a few days to make sure you are in a good place, do it, you are no use to anyone if you are tired, or exhausted of the situation, but once they know you love them and will be there for them, that is the most important thing.

Shauna is a 22 year old Irish native following her dreams in the crazy city of Los Angeles. Adjusting to the culture shock as she takes her first steps of her career, taking every opportunity that comes her way. Follow her on Twitter @Shauna212.

Featured Image via Shutterstock


Related posts:

Spreading a Little Anxiety…Info

Explaining Your Mental Health Issues To Friends

Surviving A Panic Attack

  • Tathiana Abreu

    Thank you for writing this. People who don’t struggle with anxiety tend to have trouble understanding how it takes it’s toe on every aspect of your life, spending most of your days crippled by insecurities and self deprecating thoughts can really mess up your relationships and every day activities. Controlling our emotions is hard and feeling like you can’t trust your own thoughts and actions can eventually lead you to a place where you don’t feel confident enough to do or say anything. Reading this reminds me I’m not the only one who ever felt this way and makes me feel empowered to try and take control over my life and start being who I wanna be. So thank you.

  • Brittany Canovas

    Words cannot express how thankful I am that you wrote this. I went thought a terrible anxiety period when I was 18, and it’s a horrible thing to have to cope with alone. Every morning I woke up anxious and cried. I couldn’t even leave my house. But my friends were into the party scene, so I depended on my family a lot. I literally had no friends that year. Thankfully, I’ve made better friends since then that stick by me and try to help me with my anxiety. Life is terrifying when you’re constantly afraid and don’t know what to do.

  • Laura Koles

    Indeed, thank you for sharing. All of this rings so true with me and I’m sure everyone with debilitating anxiety. I do believe I’m beginning to emerge from this chapter with an insane amount of empathy for people that I never would have had without this experience, and in hindsight, I’m genuinely grateful for that.

  • Brittany Linde

    For me anxiety is so weird. It creeps up on me. The first time I had a major anxiety attack, I was in the middle of the second year of my PhD. This is a normal event for postgrads, but for me it crept up in this stealth ninja kind of way. One day I was sitting in Borders (oh how I miss Borders) with my cup of hot tea about to work for 6 or so hours on a end-of-semester paper (completely normal). I had no idea I was anymore stressed than usual (for a PhD student) when *BAM*– I was hit by a thousand pounds of invisible anxiety. My body shut down; I couldn’t sit up straight, my heart was pounding out of my chest, my vision was blurred. I thought I was having a stroke or a heart attack; I really had no clue what was happening. I drove myself (scary, I know) to the Urgent After-Hours Care at the student wellness center and immediately saw a doctor. After some tests she said, “You’re getting a PhD, right?” When I responded with a “yes,” all she said was “Look at your blood pressure. It’s through the roof!! You need to stop everything you’re doing. You’re having an anxiety attack!” I was totally confused and thought she must be insane. I didn’t even feel stressed out. How could this be happening?

    I learned she was exactly right when the anxiety attacked my body for the next two weeks. I had to stay home from school, something I never do. I had to ask for extensions on my work, which I never do. I had to STOP….everything, just to recover.

    I pay a lot more attention to myself nowadays. I understand what oncoming stress feels like and how to say no and take of myself to avoid it. It is hard, but I had to get through it to become Dr. Linde and to continue with my life.

  • Nicole Heiniger

    Thank you for this thoughts. It is terrifying enough when something like this happens to you, but it is even worse to hear comments like “just stop worrying too much” or “you just need to think positive”. It makes the whole hell you’re going through look like nothing serious and you look like a weak person. Thank God there are friends who try to understand even if it is not fully possible.

  • Angela Grace


  • Mychal Sanders

    I can usually control my anxiety. I put my skills as an actress to work and even when I feel extreme stress and worry, I put on a smile. Sometimes it just hits me though. I’m afraid of flying, and in the shower one day I suddenly remembered I’d be flying to Hawaii to visit my best friend, and I suddenly couldn’t breathe and fell into the shower floor, heaving and crying. It was the oddest sensation… I hated it. If that’s my reaction just *thinking* about it, what if I have an anxiety attack while I’m actually on the plane? Or will it be one of the lucky days where I can control it with a smile? I haven’t experienced enough panic attacks to know what to do when they hit. It’s only happened twice or three times.

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