Anxiety: A Life or Death Disorder

I never wanted to leave the house. 

I couldn’t control the racing thoughts going through my brain.

I slept constantly, because it brought peace.

I distanced myself from friends and family. 

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Anxiety isn’t just panic attacks. 

Anxiety is depression. It’s racing thoughts. It’s feeling cut off from the world. It’s always second guessing yourself. It’s feeling like you’re having a heart attack in the middle of the night, out of nowhere. 

There are so many different components to Anxiety Disorder. It doesn’t effect any two people the same. 

You can’t always see anxiety on the outside. It’s an inward battle that takes over a person’s life. It takes ahold of your brain, and doesn’t let go. 

 

Definition of Anxiety Disorder: A group of mental disorders characterized by significant feelings of anxiety or fear. 

That’s a pretty broad definition. It says nothing about what causes it, where it comes from, or why it’s even a thing.

Why? Because, it’s different for everyone. It can be caused because of a person’s environment, an event that caused P.T.S.D., or even a chemical imbalance in the brain. It can manifest in a huge variety of different ways. 

Some people develop O.C.D. 

Some people have irrational fears. (i.e.: the dark, being sick, certain animals, or even leaving the house)

Some people have anxiety/panic attacks. Those come in a thousand different forms. 

 

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Here comes the important part: 

Most people living with Anxiety Disorder are too afraid or ashamed to talk about it. That means they won’t ask for help. People living with Anxiety are at an increased risk for suicide, because they never got the help they needed. Insurance doesn’t always cover mental disorder care. It can be lonely and terrifying. 

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If someone you care about tells you they’re suffering from Anxiety or Depression, PLEASE do not dismiss them. 

Sometimes it’s a matter of life and death. 

 

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What it Looks like to Struggle with a Mental Disorder

There are so many people that struggle with mental disorders in the U.S. alone. When I say struggle, I mean it. Mental disorders are no joke. They hurt, they make people feel isolated and judged, they cause a constant battle inside a person’s head, and sometimes, they even kill. 

Even though mental disorders cause daily struggles, and can be deadly, you can’t always see them. Some people suffer silently for years. But, just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Mental disorders are very real, and need to be addressed more often. 

While a person can look totally fine on the outside, they can be fighting an extreme battle on the inside. 

The disorders don’t discriminate. Anyone can be a victim. You’re not always born with it. Some develop in children, and some even wait until you’re an adult to appear. 

Every disorder is different. Each one has it’s own set of signs to look out for. 

If you know someone showing signs of a disorder, don’t be afraid. Don’t distance yourself from them or run away. 

Above all, don’t be afraid to love someone with a mental illness. 

There is such a bad stigma that surrounds mental illness. People seem to assume you can’t have one AND be a normal human being at the same time. But, that’s not the case at all. Sure, we have bad days, but we also have good days, too. 

We are people. We’re human beings. 

A note to those of you living with a mental disorder: 

Don’t feel like you can’t be normal. There is no such thing as normal. We are all different. We all have qualities that make us who we are. Being unique is not a bad thing. For so long society has put labels on mental illnesses that have made people judge. 

If you are one of the MILLIONS of Americans diagnosed with a mental disorder like: Depression, Bi-polar Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, OCD, etc… help spread awareness and break the stigma that’s attached to those names. 

So, what does a mental disorder look like? It looks like human beings. It has no face. It has no specific characteristics. It has no one definition. It has a stigma, and it needs to be broken. 

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I’m going to start this blog off by saying that there is nothing wrong with taking medication for your anxiety or mental disorders. I, myself, take medication. But, I try my hardest to control my panic attacks without it, if at all possible.

Here are seven things that have seemed to help me:

Essential Oils:

I started using essential oils about a year ago. They have made a HUGE difference. I have to admit, I was skeptical at first, but now I’m a total believer. My three favorites are: Peppermint (helps with Anxiety, headaches, and nausea), Bergamot (primarily for anxiety), and Lavender (helps you sleep). 

 Going Outside:

 There is just something about fresh air that helps to calm me down. This works the best at night. The combination of night air, stars, and the sound of crickets, soothes me. 

 Talking to Someone: 

Sometimes, getting your anxiety “off your chest” is all you need. My go-to person is my husband. Find someone that will let you vent, without judging, and offer advice when you need it. If you’re like me, you dont always want advice; you just want a listening ear. If you feel like you absolutely can’t talk to anyone, keep a journal. Getting it out of your mind and out into the open really does help. 

Also know, that you can always talk to me. I’m just a message away. 

Weighted Blankets:

These aren’t for everyone. I have definitely had good experiences with mine, though. If you’re not familiar with weighted blankets, they come in different sizes. They are heavy and put pressure on you, almost simulating the feeling of a hug. Here’s a link with more info:  https://www.healthline.com/health/weighted-blanket-for-anxiety#overview1

Finding Your “Safe Place”:

For me personally, this is curled up on my couch, watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. It’s different for everyone. 

If you’re out and can’t access your safe place, picture it in your mind until you feel yourself calming down. 

Music: 

Listening to music takes you away from the stress that’s giving you anxiety. It gives your brain something to concentrate on, without having to concentrate too hard. Many times, when we go into a Panic Attack, we try to take our mind off of it by doing something strenuous. This can put even more stress on the brain, and make the anxiety worse. 

Music is a great way to escape. 

Breathe:

I mean, really breathe. Concentrate on taking deep, slow breathes. Breathe in. Count to 10. Breathe out. Count to 10. Keep it steady and even. When you regulate your breathing, your heart rate will follow. 

The very most important thing to know is that you’re not alone. You are never alone. 
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Five Daily Thoughts of an Anxious Girl

If you’re new here, I struggle with AnxietyDisorder. I’m a hot mess 97% Of the time. If you’re an Anxious person, you should be able to relate to these five thoughts I have on a daily basis: 

I’m going to mess something up today. 

This thought isn’t specific to any certain thing. But, I always have the thought in the back of my head. I’m constantly worried I’m going to mess something up, embarrass myself, or make someone mad. I can’t help it. It’s just the way my brain is wired. It’s not that I’m a negative person. I’m quite the opposite, actually. Anxiety tends to cause insecurities. 

What if I’m a burden? 

I’m constantly annoying myself with my anxiety. I even want to get away from me, so I can’t imagine how others feel. Every time I have a panic attack, or a bad day, I feel like I’m just being annoying, or putting un-necessary stress on my loved ones. 

Why am I so weird?! 

Seriously. Why can’t I just be a normal person for FIVE MINUTES?

I am too overwhelmed. 

This is probably my most frequent thought. The smallest things overwhelm me: two different noises at one time, crowds, driving in a new area, going grocery shopping…. not kidding. EVEN SHOPPING. There are multiple times a day when I have to step back and take a “breather” and regroup. It’s not as fun as it sounds. 

Tomorrow will be a better day. 

No matter how bad a day I’m having, I always have hope for tomorrow. People living with AnxietyDisorder get a bad rep. We get labeled as pessimistic or negative. That’s not the case at all. I’m a very optimistic person, in general. I see the good in everyone, I hope for the best, and I aim high. Each night I tell myelf, “Tomorrow is a new day, and I’m going to crush it.” Sometimes, I don’t. But, that o.k., because a lot of times, I do. 

Life is a roller coaster when you’re living with Anxiety. You just have to learn to enjoy being on top. You have to take in the view and remember it. Just know that, even though the ride goes down, it always comes back up. 
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A Bright, Sunshiny Day

Hello friends! I am excited about this blog! I have been nominated by my friend, Stephanie Eiler, for the Sunshine Blogger Award! You can see her posts at: citrusandsun.com (Thank you so much, Stephanie!)

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What is the Sunshine Blogger Award? 

It’s an award given to bloggers, by bloggers. To receive the award, the person nominating you must think that your blog is inspiring, positive, and/or uplifting.

I am excited, because, this is the third award I’ve been nominated for in the short time I’ve been blogging. It means so much to be recognized by the blogging community. I am so lucky to be a part of it!

So, once again, THANK YOU, Stephanie. You made my day by nominating me.

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As part of the award, I must answer questions asked by my nominator. Here are Stephanie’s questions:

1. What do you love most about blogging? 

2. How did you come up with the name of your blog? 

3. Who is your favorite musical artist/band of all time?

4. What is your favorite place you have traveled to or visited?

5. Describe one of your favorite memories.

6. If you could have a conversation with anyone, living or not, who would it be and why?

7. What inspires you?

8. Describe your favorite space to work on your writing.

9, What is your ideal way to spend a morning when you do not have to work? 

10. What is a movie that you could watch over and over again? 

11. What is your favorite blog post you’ve ever written and why? Show us the link!

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MY ANSWERS: 

  1. I think what I love most about blogging is being able to help others struggling with Anxiety Disorders, or other mental illnesses. I want people to know they’re not alone in the fight, and if I can do something I love to do in the process, it’s a win-win!
  2. The Anxious Photog- I’m both anxious and a photographer. It’s not deeper than that. LOL.
  3. This is hard one! I love music so much. I honestly do not have an answer to this. I love everything from Queen, to Lady Gaga, to Pentatonix! (And everything in between.)
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  4. I would have to say Chicago is at the top of my list. I love everything about that city, and can’t wait to go back again!
  5. To this day, my wedding day remains my favorite memory. I got married at 18, right out of high school. That was seven years ago. I can’t imagine living life without my husband by my side. He is my rock. My wedding day went as perfectly as I could’ve hoped, and I’ll forever cherish it. 
  6. I would have to say the answer to this question would be: My grandmother. She passed away 11 years ago, and life’s never been the same since. I would love to just talk to her about everything and everyone in my life.
  7. So many things inspire me. I see art in everything. I always say that the weirdest things give me inspiration. For example: an outfit, a flower, a clock (yes, a clock), etc.
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  8. My favorite spot to work is “my nest”. It’s my spot on the couch with my dogs laying beside me, and music playing.
  9. Honestly, I don’t work any mornings. I’m a photographer, and make my own schedule. But, on the days my husband is off, I love to spend the mornings relaxing and watching one of our shows before we start the day.
  10. My absolute favorite movie is RENT. I can put that on repeat and watch it all day long. In fact, that’s what I do on my house cleaning days. I can listen to the soundtrack everyday.
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  11. My favorite blog post would probably have to be: “The “S” word is Important. Use it.” You can see it here: https://theanxiousphotog.blog/2017/05/27/i-love-the-s-word/I would like to nominate a couple people for this award:
    1. Zoey Schvan at http://www.zoeyvaluated.com
    2. Rhandilynn Holman at simplyradiant.wordpress.com

Here are your questions: 

1. How long have you been blogging?

2. What made you start blogging?

3. What is your favorite topic/category to blog about? 

4. What is your favorite song at the moment?

5. What other hobbies do you have?

6. Who inspires you most in life?

7. What is your favorite weekend activity? 

8. What is your favorite T.V. show?

9. Where do you want to go at least once in your life?

10. Are you an early bird or a night owl?

11. What blog post would you like to share with everyone? 
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Photography and my Anxiety Disorder 

I have a lot of things that help me with my anxiety: a wonderful husband, a supportive family, great friends, home remedies, and of course, the right medication. But, I want to tell you about how my passion for photography has helped me cope with my disorder. 

I was diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder as a teenager. About a year after the diagnosis is when I picked up photography. (Here’s a shout out to my photographer mom that introduced me to it.) I’ve been doing it about nine years now. To say it’s my passion would be an understatement. It is a huge part of my life. My camera goes everywhere I go. 

Here’s why: whenever I feel an anxiety attack coming on, I can pick up my camera, and escape both reality, and the thoughts inside my head. It allows me to have a break from the panic. 

On top of that, it allows me to create art whenever I want. 

Photography is now my full time job. It is my way of contributing to my husband’s salary, and I can’t express how thankful I am to be able to do what I love for a living. 

But, it’s not just an income for me. It’s a way of life. I don’t just do it because I get paid to do it. My “passion projects” as I call them, are my favorite things to do. I don’t get paid to do them, but I do get to create art, and work through my anxiety. It’s therapy for me. Whether there’s money in it, or not, I will always have my camera ready. 

“Photography is therapy for the eyes, mind, and soul.”

When you suffer from Anxiety disorder, (Or ANY mental disorder, for that matter), and you can find something that helps, you do it. You do it as much as you can. 

Art heals. That, I know to be true. It’s one of the most therapeutic things on Earth. I can’t imagine life without it. In fact, it’s amazing just how many people have been effected by art. 

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Three ways People with a Mental Illness are Asking for Help without Actually Asking

Each year, about 42.5 million Americans are suffering with a mental illness. That’s nearly one in every five. This could mean Anxiety Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Chronic Depression, Schizophrenia, etc.

Mental illnesses tend to be silent killers. People will fight with their sickness, without telling anyone. It’s not something you can physically see, but is VERY real. For those not suffering from a mental disorder, it may be easy to overlook the signs that a loved one is suffering.

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How do you know if someone is screaming for help? Here are three signs to look for:

Becoming Distant:
If someone is suffering with their depression, anxiety, etc., they might tend to make themselves distant from loved ones. They will become quiet, and keep to themselves. This doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t want to be helped. It may just mean that they are afraid to ask for it. They may be scared of being a burden. Don’t look past it. Reach out to them.

Acting out: 

If your loved ones aren’t acting like themselves, there could be a good reason. Sometimes, people “act out” in hopes to bring attention to the fact that they need help. They may not come out and tell you directly. A lot of people are quick to judge, and assume there isn’t a good reason behind a person’s negative actions. But, sometimes, there are very good reasons. Offering help might make more of a difference than you think.

 

Hinting around:

Sometimes people are afraid, or embarrassed to come out and tell you that they’re suffering. They may hint around about it when talking to you. They won’t say it out right, but you should be able to notice. With it being the age of Social Media, you can also pay attention to your loved one’s posts.

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Suicide is the last scream for help when it comes to this. It is the leading cause of premature death among people with mental illnesses. Don’t wait until it’s too late to pay attention. Don’t wait until your loved one is gone to realize they’re suffering. Look at them. Love them. Talk to them.

 

If you are struggling with your mental illness, PLEASE GET HELP. Do not be afraid to ask for it. Just know that there is always someone that will listen. There is someone that cares about you. I CARE ABOUT YOU.

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