I have been experiencing anxiety for quite some time – more specifically health anxiety. Every so often I’m reminded of a childhood memory, one where I was always on edge or as though something was terribly off. At the time I was totally unaware of what these feelings were. The older I got, the more I started to gradually understand that these feelings were in fact anxiety.
I experience what professionals now call health anxiety. This became so bad, that I had to stop wearing my FitBit and train myself to stop checking my pulse. It began recently after being prescribed a medication that, at least in my mind, I reacted badly to. In retrospect it is more likely I had a panic attack and I erroneously linked the two experiences together.
SIDE EFFECTS VS. HEALTH ANXIETY SYMPTOMS
It is a very confusing type of anxiety to have. I’ve never been certain whether it is the medication that I am taking that is causing side effects, or if it is my anxiety playing tricks on me. I am unable to read brochures within medications, as I am extremely likely to feel those side effects. I have slowly learned to trust the health professionals that I surround myself with – after all, they went to medical school, and I did not.
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Some days are definitely tougher than others. Sometimes I wake up and feel excellent – it is a new day, yesterday is now behind me. Then all of a sudden, those automatic thoughts pop into my head “…remember, you’re anxious,” and suddenly I’m back to feeling crummy. This feeling doesn’t last all day though, I do have many techniques to challenge these thoughts. I have learned through my therapies that it is better to acknowledge and challenge, than to ignore and suppress.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Anxiety of any degree is never easy, and if you are experiencing any form of mental health issues, you really need to know that you are not alone. I know at times it can feel like you are, but you need to know that you are not. There are so many people experiencing the same thing as you – what lead you to those feelings may be different, but the feelings are the same none the less.
Your experience is your own. You don’t need to compare your wellbeing to that of others, you just need to focus on yourself. What goes on inside your brain only you have the power to change.
CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON HEALTH ANXIETY
I’ll leave you with a helpful tip my psychologist gave me – rather than be frightened of your anxiety, embrace it. Treat it as a friend. If you can gradually learn not to be scared of it, the feeling of it will lessen over time.
If you need help, reach out. There are many mental health services you can call, SMS, email or live chat with. Talk to a friend or family member. You don’t have to go through it alone.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing distress you can reach out to Beyond Blue: Beyond Blue’s support line is available 24/7.
Lifeline: For crisis support, Lifeline provides a 24/7 line, as well as online resources on a range of issues.