Knowledge is Power

When it comes to anxiety, arming yourself with the tools needed to succeed involves lots of research because…Knowledge is Power!

Back when I was around 16 and first had my experiences of social anxiety in high school I had no clue what anxiety even was, yet alone that it was something I was living with each day. I was completely naive as to what I was going through, I did not know if it was normal or if it was something other people had experienced before, This meant I had no idea what to tell my parents, my GP or my teachers. I vividly remember telling the doctor “I feel sick all the time’ resulting in a course of medicine targeting suspected acid reflux.

It took me a while to figure out that there was a pattern emerging of when this ‘Sick feeling would occur’. It became much more prominent whilst I was sat in a quiet class room surrounded by 20 other students, or when I was attending the morning assembly with 200+ other students. That is when I started to research why this kept happening, and discovered that the likely cause was social anxiety. It was only then that I was in a position to ask for help, something I regrettably delayed for about a year (Don’t do this!) before finally approaching my tutor and asking permission to be excluded from the morning assembly.

I  began independently researching ways to prevent the flare up of symptoms at school, trying my best to hide my illness and keep the mask of ‘being just like everyone else’ intact. I was trying to stay hydrated and upbeat, and passing it off as a fleeting phase rather than accepting it and learning to control it with the help of others, with little success.

It was only when I read an article (I have regrettably slept since then and have forgotten the name) that offered a new way of living with anxiety, one promoting the idea of acceptance instead of defiance. It suggested you stop dismissing your struggles and constructed a way of living which would allow you to live in relative harmony with the anxiety as opposed to to fighting it at every turn, and living in denial.

Nowadays there are a plethora of resources out there that will tell you the same thing. The first big step is to admit to yourself that your anxiety needs addressing, and if need be, catering to (To some extent). That isn’t to say you stop being social, stop going out on weekends or quit your job etc ..It is to say that you need to be honest with yourself and others around you. For example, I really struggled to sit in the back seat of a car with only two front doors and no rear windows (The good old 3 door Vauxhall Corsa springs to mind!) as my anxiety would make feel sick. So I told my friends, who from that day on would always offer me the front seat on our adventures. A small price for them to pay rewarded me with tremendous freedom…I was immediately able to stop making excuses for not being able to attend social events because of the crippling anxiety of being trapped in a confined space for long periods of time.

I guess what I am getting at is this; My research taught me to accept my anxiety, and communicate with those close to me…and It has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.

 (Check out the links below for valuable resources)

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/overcoming-fears.aspx

http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/coping

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