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Author Topic: accepting i need some help, just want to know if anyone relates/has advice  (Read 362 times)

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Offline frogbelly

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hi ! i'm 19 and i've finally decided to actively get help for my anxiety issues. i've struggled with anxiety for most of my life but never really accepted that i had a problem. mental illnesses always had really negative connotations to me. i always wanted to be normal, i didn't want to have mental problems and i thought that by ignoring them they would go away. anyways, i guess my anxiety issues started to become more noticeable when i was about 10-13, i was
a pretty temperamental, emotional child and i got upset easily. it was usually worries about people not actually caring about me, being lonely, not being able to express myself properly, not being listened to. during this time i had panic attacks occasionally. i also had a lot of worries about not having enough time to do things, not succeeding in things, etc. i always felt that i would fail at something before i even began.  i was playing piano when i was younger and i would have such extreme anxiety when i had to do recitals, my legs would shake, i would be covered in sweat and i would feel dizzy even though i'd have practiced obsessively. sometimes this anxiety would make me freeze up and forget parts or all of my pieces. it felt like i was not in control of my life at all.

since then i have gotten better in some cases, such as public speaking. i usually don't have too much trouble with talking in front of a group. it still causes me a lot of anxiety and worries, but i can manage. other situations are usually a hit or miss, i have good days and bad days. i know i can converse with people, but sometimes it feels so difficult. i can have so many things to say in my head, yet sometimes nothing will come out, or i can't find the right words to express myself.  i have a lot of social anxiety and fear of acceptance . i often question if people actually like me or if they are just pretending. i have a constant fear that i will be alone in my life, or unable to make friends.

i've always felt guilt and shame about having this anxiety because my parent's raised me pretty well, in a safe and loving environment. i've also had some good friends in my life that would've supported me though anything. last year i was going through some difficulties and i told my mom that i thought i had depression. she didn't really believe me and said i was 'just in a rut' and that 'i would get out of it'. i thought that maybe she was right, and just concluded that i shouldn't talk to her about it. i now know that this was not the right way of thinking. i understand now, after accepting that i have anxiety, that a lot of people don't understand what it means to have a high level of anxiety and the way it can impact your life.
i ended up going to a naturopath for some health problems i was having, and i mentioned to her my anxiety- general and social anxiety. she didn't really help that much and just recommended breathing exercises basically. those are helpful for falling asleep, but didn't really do anything to improve my overall anxiety.

i kind of gave up after that. i would feel like i was getting better, that i was doing better in social situations, and think the anxiety was going away. but then i would go through something that would bring back anxious feelings- like applying for a job, and going through university for my first year. that was one of the hardest years of my life, and though i was successful in the end, i had many anxiety attacks and stressful, sleepless nights worrying about the outcome of projects and my life.

anyways, i guess i really decided to accept my problem this week. i had been having a lot of stressful social interactions with people i don't know that well, but really wanted to become acquainted with. this often happens- i'll meet people i have so much in common with and who i want to have conversations with, but my anxiety and social awkwardness prevents me from barely uttering anything. when i do say things, i worry about what i'm saying and if they understand me or are interested. i know this is not how it should be and i'm realllllllllyy frustrated with this. because i know that i have a lot of potential, that i am intelligent and interesting and that i can achieve things, but it all seems so hard with my anxiety. i want to be able to have lasting friendships and meet new people i am interested in.
it's also been a  constant physical thing too- when i am anxious i scratch at myself- my arms, legs, head , face. this makes me get pretty irritated skin when i am really stressful, and has given me longer term skin problems from the irritation.

anyways, i feel a bit lost in terms of what to do first. i'm considering therapy but i'm not sure if thats the right route. i don't want to do anything that will cost a lot of money and not help me at all, like going to the naturopath. i don't want to take medication at this point because i feel that this is a problem i can solve without medication.

i think an important thing for me to do would be to tell people i am close to that i have this problem, and seek out other people that are also suffering anxiety for support. this feels like one of the hardest things to do because of all of the shame i have for having this issue, and knowing that people don't always understand and might think i am overreacting or trying to make up excuses for my problems. i think telling my parents is the hardest, because in the past when i spoke about similar issues my mom was very over concerned, didn't understand what i was saying, and just tried to make me forget my problem. i want her to know that while i have this issue, it doesn't mean that i don't still enjoy my life for the most part, and that she is still a  good parent.

looking for any input from people with similar history and problems. where did you go to seek help, and are there any immediate changes and things i can do to make an impact? how did you explain to friends and family what you are going through without them freaking out too much? how do you get people to understand?

even just going over my issues has been such a  help in realizing that this has been a long term problem. it's really helped me by accepting that it's an issue and a blockage in my life. i've been making comics about how anxiety feels for me and have been getting a lot of relief out of those. now it's time to work on healing and coming into my full potential. nervous but excited.
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Offline kconnors

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Re: accepting i need some help, just want to know if anyone relates/has advice
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2012, 09:32:16 AM »
Hi frogbelly . . . glad you came by . . . .

First well done to make the decision to seek help . . . right now, there is a generational shift going on . . . before, a lot of folks could not or would not recognize mental health issues as comparable to physical health issues because you cannot "see" mental health issues (you most certainly see the effects and the symptoms but for many, because it was "in the head," somehow made it less real  . . .and these are usually the people who do not experience mental health issues) . . .

Second, the type of "performance" anxiety that you describe is not unusual as a child or an adult . . . many times, speaking from personal experience, it comes from a sense of making an error that will cause disappointment in the people whom we are trying so hard to please whether they deserve that type of adulation or not . . . but, you are working on this by doing public speaking but perhaps you need some professional guidance to help you develop management techniques. Because I had (actually, I still do have) a speech impediment, I dreaded public speaking in schools . . . but, I loved teaching and so I created an environment where I felt comfortable by getting my students, especially those who feared the subject matter, to feel comfortable in making errors as part of the learning process. . .  several of these students told me later that they learned that they did not have to be perfect so long as they were learning and that helped me to realize that I did not have to be perfect either.

Third, there is nothing to be gained about guilt although I also know, again through personal experience, how that works . . . although I did not recognize my depression/anxiety until much later in life (in retrospect), I understand how the generations before us were ill equipped to handle the issues around depression and anxiety . . . . even now, among my peers, many who have not experienced anxiety or depression simply rely on the tried and true "if you can't touch it, then it does not exist" . . . my only suggestion and it does not always work is to try and explain the situation and how your decisions must be to * your * benefit and if these decisions disappoint other people, then so be it . . . you are living your life; you are not asking to live their lives so the respect that you give to them must be reciprocated . . . I have lost so called friends and it is what it is . . .. I am the one who is coping with anxiety so I now do what I believe is in my best interests . . .

Fourth . . . dealing with anxiety is a process . . . you will probably hit speed bumps that put you back but remember . . . unless you were going forward, you would not be able to have set backs . . . and these set backs are merely situations that you need to learn to manage . . . again, I would suggest professional intervention . . . it is good to have an objective perspective and a guide to management techniques . . . plus, if there are any community-based groups where you can share your process and receive support, consider attending these . . .

Fifth . . . .remember that you may have to try a few therapists until you find one that aligns with your needs and goals . . .this is not unusual . . . also, no one can force you to take meds . . . many of us prefer not to do meds; many of us prefer to take meds as a bridge; and many of us prefer to take meds long term . . . .this is a highly individual decision depending on your desires and your specific situation . . . I would evaluate my lifestyle . . . alcohol? other drugs? sleep? exercise? diet? meditation? etc. as these can be just as potent as meds for some

Sixth . . . you have hit upon one of the most powerful strategies re: anxiety . . . getting it out . . . comics are great . . . anything that helps you to visualize and articulate how you are feeling will help you to identify the triggers and develop management techniques . . .

Lastly . . . how do you explain to others without freaking them out . . . look, whether someone freaks or not is their problem . . . if they are friends and they freak, then this is an immature reaction . . .would they freak if you told them that you had to have your gall bladder removed because of the symptoms? If they are so easily freaked out, I would have to wonder about their own maturity . . . .I would suggest that you focus on * your * needs and if you lose so-called friends, then they were not there to support you in any case; if your friends dismiss your concerns as it being all in your head . . .well, yeah, it is in your head . . . .it is a mental health issue . . . this does not mean that it does not exist . . . it only means that it needs a different approach . . .

Look, from what you have written, frogbelly, you are a very smart, insightful 19 year old who is committing to a process in light of obstacles even from well intentioned people . . .you know that there are issues and you know that you probably need professional intervention but you are willing to take that first step . . . you have a marvellous life in front of you because of your potential . . . try professional help to see if you can find someone who aligns with your belief system re: meds . . . . but, remember it may take two or three tries . . .  your posting tells of your inner strength which translates into resolve and that you know that you can do this . . . others have done it, others will do it, and you can be part of this group . . . .I won't lie to you and tell you that there won't be bumps, but you have all the tools to make this successful . . . .please keep in touch and let us know of your progress . . . take care and thank you ever so much for sharing your experiences with us . . . .your excitement for change gives us all renewed encouragement . . .take care, kc
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Offline e77

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Re: accepting i need some help, just want to know if anyone relates/has advice
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2012, 12:52:21 PM »
Hello Frogbelly.  Anxiety is something I struggle with also.  Kconnors is giving wonderful advice and I hope you read it closely and take it to heart.  Don't be hard on yourself.  Even though it is a part of you, it does not define you as a person, there is much more to you than that.  Anxiety comes and goes but does tend to be chronic for a lot of us so I encourage you to develop ways to manage it like Kconnors said.  Wishing you all the best. 
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Offline frogbelly

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Re: accepting i need some help, just want to know if anyone relates/has advice
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2012, 12:53:07 AM »
thank you both for the support. Kconnors, thank you so much for all of your ideas and opinions, it's reassured me a lot and is very useful.

yes, you are right that i shouldn't think about how my anxiety will affect other people so much. haha, i guess its the anxiety speaking because i am always a  bit worried about being inconvenient to other people, which i shouldn't be. i actually talked to my parents today about my issue and getting help and they didn't react the way they did in the past about other things. maybe because i am older now and thought about what i was going to say more they were able to take me more seriously. they also agree that i need help and were very glad i told them, although they were surprised. at first they didn't really believe that i was as anxious as i described, but at least eventually they understood better.  it feels a lot better to know i will have some help from them.
i also talked to a close friend of mine about this, and they ended up describing that they were going through very similar things to me and were relieved to know they weren't the only one. surprised me as they were always someone i looked up to who seemed to have it all together.. it will be great to be able to talk to them about what i'm going through.

i'm going to be looking into groups and therapists in my area. thank you so much for the encouragement and advice!
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