I'm not going out today. A phrase that I, and probably a lot more people than thought, use quite often when feeling anxious, or low. A phrase I should stop saying but that's just one part of the battle.
Saying no is the easiest way out of situations I don't like, or should I say, situations I fear. Whilst I'm not ashamed to say that anxiety controls me, anxiety is part of me, sometimes I do wish it was different. I don't know what triggers it but I do know what it feels like when the most obvious side effect of anxiety, a panic attack, strikes.
I can be doing a normal, boring everyday thing when for no obvious reason it feels like my heart has jumped and is now doing backflips. It's a weird one. Palpitations are really not pleasant. Clearly when you feel a missed beat, or an extra one your mind instantly goes to panic mode which then only begins a vicious circle. Your breathing goes haywire, your chest goes tight which then leads to feeling dizzy. It's difficult to remain calm when at that time the worst is flashing continuously through your mind.
I'd say you get used to the feeling but I guess you never really do. You know what's coming and sort of what to expect but each active panic attack is different. I say active panic attack because I feel like there's a difference between all out panicking and the general 'anxiety' term. The two go hand in hand but life as an anxious person doesn't mean always being in a state of panic which is something I see written and discussed a lot.
I'll try my best to explain.
Anxiety, anxiousness, is something that every single living being has. It's an emotion, or a state of mind. You have an interview coming up for that dream job you want? You are without a doubt going to be nervous about it and how you will perform. You're going out on a first date? You're apprehensive about how you look, how you come across. Same thing, all completely normal reactions. It's expected.
Whereas a panic attack is a side effect of this anxiety. It's when you have too many emotions and thoughts all at once. Too much to process. An example - going for a job interview, in my mind I'd be thinking about; my appearance, my behaviour, answering any questions the best way, being professional, not fiddling with things, smiling, not stuttering, not taking long pauses, not getting the job because I'm not good enough, thinking I've wasted everyone's time. I could go on. Having too much swirling around inside your head all contributes to what feels like the biggest meltdown and "arghh" moment.
For me at least, I don't live in a permanent state of terror but I'd say there is always that horrible niggling feeling of 'what if'. That's another phrase you see a lot when discussing anxiety. 'What if' that happened. 'What if' this happened. It's the one I most associate with. It doesn't matter what I'm doing there is always that feeling of the unknown.
Anxiety makes me doubt myself at the worst of times. It has made me overly critical of nearly everything I do. Often my photography suffers because I get disheartened that the image I had in my head isn't what I managed to shoot. Honestly, I've probably got more images that will never see the light of day than I've published. I imagine every photographer has this issue though. It does bother me. There's been more moments than I care for over the past month or so where I've been half way through the post production of an image where I've had the 'not good enough' feeling. It's been scrapped.
After saying all that though, living with anxiety isn't all bad. I am definitely a stronger person than I was. At the beginning, I said that anxiety controls me, I still stand by that. However, I hope that one day I'll control it.