Comment & Analysis
Oct 24, 2015

The Ins and Outs of an Anxiety Disorder

The layman often assumes anxiety and depression are the same class of illness, but there are distinct differences between these mood disorders and how they should be treated.

Lauren Nic EoinContributing Writer

I have a friend who suffers from anxiety. This means that change sends her heart racing, she believes she is doomed to fall within the 1 per cent of women for whom the contraceptive pill may fail, and a good night’s sleep will be top of her wish list to Santa this year. Quite literally, there are only five more sleeps left until Christmas. And those will likely be aided by benzodiazepines. I did recommend that she did some more research and looked into something like Green Roads CBD: CBD Oil Review, as this may be the answer she has been looking for when it comes to managing her anxiety. If you’re looking to buy herbal remedies like these online you can Save On Cannabis with vouchers. It is important to remember that there is always a solution out there for pretty much anything you are going through. Everything seems worse initially before it gets better.

Aside from these somewhat humorous aspects of her affliction, though, there is a rough side. When she is plagued with worry – usually about something which has not even happened yet – this manifests itself in physical pain. Her back aches and her chest feels like someone is sitting on top of it, daring her to act on her paranoia. If she fixates on a potential bad circumstance such as a loss, she almost feels the level of pain associated with the imaginary event. Her mood is usually so low the morning after broken sleep that she finds it extremely hard to get up early – not ideal when trying to navigate the self-disciplined world of postgraduate research.

However, my friend is fortunate. She can attribute a lot of her success in academia to the perfectionism and self-doubt associated with her anxiety. She has a milder experience than most, suffering little or no unprecedented public panic attacks, and she doesn’t have any problem leaving her house. She emphatically and truthfully answers “no” to the customary yet affronting question asked by doctors: “Do you ever have thoughts of harming yourself or others?”

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She has a milder experience than most, suffering little or no unprecedented public panic attacks, and she doesn’t have any problem leaving her house.

But she sympathises very strongly with the pain of those who do have such thoughts, because she shares the weight of other people’s problems. Just as a low immune system makes one susceptible to a multitude of health issues, her anxiety leaves her vulnerable to feeling depressed if she is not careful. Every day must be regimented. She must take medication, incorporate exercise, avoid caffeine, minimise alcohol, and pretty much not do anything fun for three hours before bed. She even started looking into buying pre rolls online, as she had considered using marijuana as a way of calming her symptoms of anxiety. Falling out of routine equates to no sleep for the next week. She identifies well with the life of a newborn baby.

Despite some common misconceptions, we do live in a society where the conversation about mental health is becoming very free-flowing. There are so many fantastic people who want to better educate us on mental health problems. But I do find that not enough light has been shed on some disorders and so there is a blatant gap in the understanding of the difficulties which our friends with anxiety, OCD, bipolar or many other disorders may face. The layman often assumes anxiety and depression are the same class of illness, but there are distinct differences between these mood disorders and how they should be treated. If young people were educated on these, the stigma associated with both and others might be lifted. We are taught Irish, which only proves useful when bitching about foreigners whilst abroad. We are taught about who is who in the Dáil. Why aren’t we educated on the serious “invisible” illnesses our peers may be dealing with? Moreover, why aren’t we taught how to look after ourselves?

But the fifty-something shades of mental health problems are comprised of a variety of disorders, which can filter into one another if not appropriately treated.

Many believe that we need to cultivate a better understanding of the harrowing illness that is depression, predominantly to prevent tragic consequences. But the fifty-something shades of mental health problems are comprised of a variety of disorders, which can filter into one another if not appropriately treated. Our end goal in generating a more accepting, honest, open Ireland should not be to avoid the worst case scenario, but to better people’s lives so that tragic actions don’t even enter their minds. How do we do this? Talking certainly helps. Educating others on one’s own experience definitely helps. Myself and my friend attended a talk given by Niall Breslin recently in which he noted the importance of telling your own story. So to conclude my contribution to the ongoing conversation on mental health, I’d like to take some points I’ve learned from my friend’s story and share them.

The fundamental thing we need to understand is that people with anxiety are not looking for attention. As an immediate comfort, reassurance helps immensely. As a long-term solution to their discomfort, understanding is paramount. Of course they must learn to reassure themselves, but a little support wouldn’t go amiss. Often, loved ones try to take the “tough love” approach with the sufferer. They try to challenge them or brush off the worried thoughts, believing that forcing them to face their fears alone might make them stronger. But would you ask someone bound to a wheelchair for three months to try to walk upstairs after a week? Certainly not. Recovery takes place physically and mentally in its own time, and if you try to have the same level of patience you would have for someone who has a physical ailment, your relationship with the anxious person will become easier. Simply try to understand your loved ones and their triggers. Acknowledge the anxiety. Nuance it with humor if it helps. If the person can joke about themselves, all the better. However you do it, accept that this is part of who they are for now and let them know you love them anyway.

My friend is all too aware of the difficulties of living with someone who has an anxiety disorder. It’s as frustrating for the loved ones as the sufferer at times. It’s certainly something that causes challenges in all relationships, but if you love somebody you should be there for them. No need to be a crutch, just have a bit of compassion. People with anxiety tend to over analyse what others think of them, so just be straight up with them and let them know if you’re annoyed at them. The worst thing you could do would be to talk about it behind their back. This only magnifies paranoia and can make your friend feel worse than you may ever know. Remember, the same amount of water that boils an egg can soften a potato. Just because you may shake off an insult with no second thought, doesn’t mean someone else won’t be wide-awake at night blaming themselves and panicking.

I’m sick of seeing posts copied and pasted on people’s Facebook statuses “in solidarity” with those who struggle with their mental health.

In 2015, we should now be at a point where we practice compassion in every life situation. I’m sick of seeing posts copied and pasted on people’s Facebook statuses “in solidarity” with those who struggle with their mental health. We all know someone who suffers – imagine how much better this society would be if we all got up off our couches and reached out to help a friend? And don’t forget to practice self-compassion too. Learning to be compassionate towards herself is what gave my friend the confidence to speak out.

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