Anxiety is probably the biggest concern for many people. It is not spoken about freely and many people hide their anxiety through fear, embarrassment or lack of knowledge about whats actually going on inside them.
I have worked with Anxiety in many forms and I myself am a high functioning anxious person, which means not many people would be able to tell I have suffered anxiety in fact most people are shocked when I tell them. For me it presented as working a million miles per hour, trying to be the best at everything I did, being able to take on a HUGE amount of work and not seem or appear stressed, not being able to sleep well, and having full blown panic attacks which led me into hospital thinking I was having a heart attack 6 times in my life and hating being in large crowds to the point I felt I was suffocating.
Its a debilitating condition and its heightened by not looking at the underlying cause. Mine personally was childhood trauma but it can be triggered by many incidents. It could be loss of identity, it could be a huge loss personally, it could be because you are a highly attuned sensitive person and it could be because you are eating and self medicating causing anxiety to rear its head, it can be bullying or poor friendships, it can be body insecurities or abandonment issues.
I believe anxiety has to be managed in a holistic manner. Yes some anti anxiety medications work for some people and usually those who have suffered trauma at a young age respond best to medication. However I would look towards diet and lifestyle first and make sure that is spot on and then I would look towards biochemical functioning in the body to make sure that is all working well before I would move on to anti depressants or anti anxiety. The reason being is many factors are involved in anxiety and one small imbalance can cause the entire system to fall out of whack. Adding anti depressants or anti anxiety medications into that mix could just be a compounding of the problem. And when you come off the medication the anxiety will still be present if you haven't worked with a therapist or a professional in the time your were taking the medications. I am not in any way dismissing the excellent resource of these medications they most certainly have their time and place and if they are needed then so be it. There need not be any stigma around these medications, I personally have seen outstanding results from people taking medications and doing therapy simultaneously, a lifesaver for some and can stabilise someone enough to be able to help bring that person back to an equilibrium and go on to flourish in life.
I think my main concern is we as a society are lazy we go straight for what we think is an easy solution. Sadly medication isn't always that. I also believe doctors have a huge role to play in this. Instead of the doctor suggesting a therapist or counsellor they will go straight to the medication option this is not okay. A doctor is not trained in the mental health area so please be very aware of this if your doctor suggests medications and that is it. Ask for the name of a therapist, any doctor worth their salt will have a few therapists numbers that they work closely with and have a referral system with. I work with a doctor and cross refer. I also work with a naturopath, pharmacist, chiro, acupuncturist and I know many personal trainers to cross refer. It takes a village remember:)
Anxiety is so prevalent in our society yet it remains hidden and unseen. The girl who cannot be in large groups because it feels like she will die, the boy who panics every time he gets an assignment because he is so afraid of failing, the woman who is ALWAYS busy because if she stops she might have to look at who she really is, the new mother who cannot stop thinking of ways to escape or how much she hates her life and is going around in circles because she feels she should be happy ??? The husband who is hanging on by a thread but those 5-6 beers per night keep him functioning, the woman who spends copious amounts of money she doesn't have.....
Its insidious and until we start sharing our feelings truthfully it will most likely always remain a hidden epidemic and it will simply get worse.
We are already seeing the effects of anxiety in our youth. Youth suicide is on the rise, children telling their parents they don't want to live anymore or they feel worthless. Heartbreaking, especially when these years would hopefully be the most carefree of your life (for some). We are witnessing in the psychotherapeutic world the need for change in how we address anxiety. The need to look deeper for the causes instead of just whacking a label on it and popping it in a box. Anxiety is manageable and it can go away. I personally don't suffer anxiety anymore. I can every now and again go into an isolated state whereby I need to monitor my stress levels and commitments but on a general whole I have such a good understanding about what causes me anxiety that I am aware of any triggers so I can modify behaviour before it happens. I have also set up a fantastic care structure for myself that enables me to look after myself so I don't get too stressed or overwhelmed. That really is the golden key I feel, get to know yourself really well and that happens in relationship with others. Group therapy is a fantastic avenue for people who suffer with anxiety, it may be a little daunting in the beginning so perhaps starting with individual therapy for a few coping skills might be a good path initially.
Also look at your life honestly, are you truly happy? Do you enjoy your work, relationship, friendships etc? If not perhaps its time to take stock and just be honest with yourself. Nothing changes from a place of unawareness, being brave enough to challenge yourself is what will bring you to a place of change. And I want to acknowledge how hard that can be especially in a situation where you may be judged or ostracised from your family or friends. It takes a lot of vulnerability and bravery to take these steps. Thats why getting help is usually a necessity. Have someone on your side.
If someone you know is experiencing high anxiety perhaps pass this blog onto them, if that person is a child then I highly suggest getting them in to see someone, a play/drama/creative therapist works best for children. They don't have to be creative at all its not about that although kids usually are. Its more about allowing a child to express without the necessity of words therefore removing the cognitive brain from the process and allowing them to express from the heart or feelings it has more freedom and less seriousness to it. Besides has anyone actually tried to get a 13 year old boy to have a deep chat for example? there is a reason for that their brain at that age simply isn't wired that way so CBT and cognitive therapies are not the best way forward in my opinion for youth.
If you yourself are struggling with anxiety, there is a way out of it and it may take some time and some work on your behalf but its not a prison sentence and you can change the way you exist in this world.
Courage comes from whichever source you personally believe so tap into that source and honour yourself with love and care.