6 articles Tag anxiety

Five Signs of Anxiety a Counselor Will Spot

Five Signs of Anxiety a Counselor Will SpotPhoto by Tonik on Unsplash

Anxiety is one of the most common forms of mental illness, with an estimated 1 in six people suffering from some sort of anxiety. For many of us, anxiety os something that we live with on  day to day basis, barely recognising the varying symptoms that we’re dealing with. However, knowing the different ways in which your anxiety manifests itself can be half of the battle in dealing with it, so I’ve put together a list of five of the most common signs of anxiety that your BetterHelp counselor will spot, even if you don’t:

Hyperactivity

While you may just think you’re being motivated and getting things done, going on a sudden overactive kick of doing something could be a sign of anxiety. Cleaning the house from top to bottom, overexercising or even talking too much can all be ways that we try to distract ourselves while dealing with the excess energy that anxiety can produce.

Irritability

Most people associate feelings of aniety with fear and worry, but for many people, aniety can actually look like irritability and snappiness. This is often due to the racing thoughts and feeling on edge that the excess adrenaline in your system causes. If someone close to you seems snappy and less tolerant than usual, try to remember that it’s not your fault and could be due to their anxiety.

Hoarding

We’ve all seen the “Extreme Hoarders” programmes on TV, where people live in houses which are so full of stuff that they have to climb over a virtual assault course just to get to bed, but hoarding doesn’t always look like this. Often, people who are hoarding because of anxiety will pick one item which is significant to them and hold onto it because it gives them some sense of comfort.

Dissociation

Dissociation is a feeling of being disconnected from your thoughts, feelings, memories, and surroundings. Often, when people are dealing with Dissociation, they don’t even realise that this is what they’re dealing with, and it’s only when they explain their feelings to a mental health professional that they realise thi is what’s happening. It sometimes resolves itself, but seeking help from a counselor is vital. 

Physical Symptoms

There are many physical symptoms which can result from having anxiety, and it’s not uncommon for sufferers to belive they’re having a serious health problem, such as a heat attack, when these symptoms occur. Sweating, heavy and fast breathing, hot flushes or blushing, dry mouth, shaking, hair loss, fast heartbeat, extreme tiredness or lack of energy, dizziness and fainting, and stomach aches and sickness are ALL symptoms which can result from anxiety and can all make you believe you have a physical sickness.

How to Help Someone You Love Who is Suffering from Depression

With 1 in 4 individuals living in the UK suffering from a mental illness, it is likely that someone in your family or friends group is one of those people. From depression to border-line personality disorder, there is always one recurring factor that must be remembered. Seek help. The more support within a sufferer’s life, the less pressurised they feel to wallow in their irrational shame and isolation.

By reading this article, I hope to enlighten your world with ways in which you can help those in your life coping with depression. But don’t worry if they don’t reach out to you immediately. Something with such a mind-numbing pain attached can often take the person time to understand and cope with it themselves.

Understanding Depression

The first step to caring for those you love is through understanding the illness itself. Without the knowledge of how the illness is affecting them and others, there is no real relevant way that you can help. However, as each individual has their own experience of depressive symptoms, it is advised to let them explain how they feel first. Once this has been established, then you can begin to cushion the impact for them. For example, if they feel as though they are isolated from the world and this is creating an overt sense of depression, then make them aware that you are always available for company or even a simple cup of tea.

Despite this, people with mental illnesses also tend to value their time alone to reflect and get to know themselves, so you should definitely avoid any form of smothering.  Nevertheless, with a gentle reminder that you are there for them, this can go a long way.

Another way in which you can help your loved one is through the boosting of their low self-esteem. With depression, it is almost guaranteed that the way in which they feel about themselves is fairly negative. But if you want to care for them, then reinforcing a cycle of positivity can help with this. So, if they have decided to get out of bed, or are looking more cheerful on those better days, then don’t forget to remind them of this. With the occasional complimentary comment, you can help to break their negative thought pattern, reminding them that they always have been, and of course always will be a beautiful person.

Don’t Make It All About You and Your Experiences… Just Let Them Talk

If you also suffer from depression yourself, I am sure you are aware that there is nothing worse than people smothering you with their stories of how they overcame their illness. In one way, they probably believe that by telling you about their experiences, this will automatically benefit you; however, it doesn’t. As I’ve mentioned before, each individual person suffers from their own specific depressive symptoms, meaning that just because you’ve overcome your illness, by following the same path they can too. This is a common mistake and can often make those being talked at feel insignificant and overwhelmed.

The first step to success in this area is to make it obvious that you are available to talk. By extending this invitation, this then provides them with the opportunity to accept whenever they feel comfortable and ready to open up. As the first discussion can be overpowering, then you must be prepared for tears and snotty messes; but once they come to terms with their depression, and accept that they need help, then it can only go up from there. It is also important to remember that often when people discuss their mental illness, they feel ashamed of their ‘weaknesses’. However, as a stigma that needs to be destroyed, you must make them aware that it is okay to feel down. It is the recovery and learning to love yourself that is important. By doing so, you’ll reinforce this significantly important mantra: Your mental illness does not define you!

Every Little Helps

A further method support is to reinforce the importance of maintaining their typical everyday schedule. When suffering from depression, an ordinary routine can often become overwhelming, causing isolation and sadness to consume them as you feel as though they cannot leave their bed. This can often lead to difficulties regarding money, especially if they convince themselves that going into work is not an option. However, by contacting advice services such as Mental Health and Money Advice, professionals who understand will be able to create a plan of guidance and offer you services into how to help someone with poor mental health with their expenses.

By following the aide of this article, I hope that you will be able to alleviate the suffering of your loved one. As such a common problem in the UK, I know how consuming mental illnesses can be. However, with your support, you should be able to encourage your family member or friend to open up and seek the support that they so desperately deserve.

The Lonely Toothbrush

If you read this blog with any kind of regularity, you’ve probably noticed by now that I’m a little bit…unusual? Between my magpie obsession, my lack of direction and wanting to wipe my brain like a hard drive,  it’s fair to say that I err on the side of the slightly eccentric. However, I realised something about myself today that we can add to the ever-growing list of unusual pathological behaviors;  I have an unusual aversion to loneliness.

Now, I appreciate than an aversion to loneliness in and of itself isn’t that unusual. As humans, we’re programmed to believe in safety in numbers and there’s been absolutely masses of research into the psychology and anthropology behind loneliness – according to Wikipedia “Loneliness has also been described as social pain — a psychological mechanism meant to alert an individual of isolation and motivate him/her to seek social connections”. Loneliness and our feeling about it are central to The Human Condition. But see, this is the thing – for me, it’s not just about humans…

Don’t get me wrong, I have a special pain in my heart and stomach that kicks in when I think about how many old people there are in the world who’ve been left on their own and feel a deep sense of loneliness, that’s all there. But this morning, whilst in the shower, I became deeply disturbed by the living arrangement of our toothbrushes. We have two glasses, mounted above the bathroom sink in which our dental care accouterments live. Today, mine and Husband’s brushes were in one glass with the toothpastes and Sausage’s was by itself in the other.

By itself.

All alone.

So I moved it.

I rearranged everything so that all three of our toothbrushes were in one glass, together, so that no one toothbrush got lonely. It moved me to significant enough sadness that I had to take action.

And now I sit and think about it, I do it with other things too. If I’m making beans or spaghetti on toast, I dutifully bang the bottom of the tin until every last bean or hoop falls from the tin. Not because I’m tight or greedy, simply because if that bean or hoop goes into the bin in a can by itself, it might get lonely. I genuinely have anxiety about lonely legumes.

I realise I’m probably really asking you to plumb the depths of your tolerance to sympathise with me here; the majority of you nice, sane people are probably wondering where the nearest loony bin is that I can be flung into, but I do wonder where this feeling comes from. As much as I’d never crave loneliness, I’m perfectly happy in my own company. I quite enjoy my drive to work, along the seafront, listening to BBC Radio 2, singing if I feel like it. At lunchtime, I try to get away from my desk if I can and have 5 minutes to myself. It’s not like I can’t stand to be alone.

Why do I rate the beans and hoops and toothbrushes more highly than myself, when it comes to company?

Answers on a postcard, dear readers…

Progress…

So, I feel like I should probably put paid to a couple of ideas that THIS blog post may have created in my nearest and dearest.

1. I’m not pregnant. I know I’ve said I’d like to be at some point, but I’m far too fat and unhealthy to even consider it at the moment.

2. I’m not moving abroad.

3. I haven’t joined a cult/had a sex change/joined a swingers club

So there.

One of the things that was leaving me feeling rather stymied was Sausage and her reaction to school. I’m not gonna lie to you, people, it’s been a tough couple of weeks.

During the first week, she was only attending for half days and she seemed to get on really well. Then she started to feel poorly and the combination of this and a glib (but hugely irresponsible) comment made to her by one of her TA’s made any confidence that she’d gained completely unravel. We had a week of living with a very unhappy Sausage. She wasn’t herself at all, she had bad dreams, she was tearful from the moment she woke up and dropping her off at school was like untangling myself from a screaming octopus before walking swiftly away. It was breaking all of our hearts but we knew we had to persevere.

However, we seem to have had a breakthrough.

We’ve started walking to school with a couple of Sausages’s friends who are really lovely kids and it’s made her look forward to seeing them in the morning rather than going through the usual anxiety. She’s made some friends in class who she seems to get on very well with, so now, instead of spending her evenings and mornings telling us how much she misses us when she’s at school, she’s happy and excited about things.

I didn’t want to write about all of this at first, it’s been difficult to deal with and if I’m honest, I’ve not felt like a very good Mum at times, worrying that my leaving her when she’s upset will ruin our relationship but I’m glad I listened to Husband and everyone else who said that it’ll just take time. Instead of sitting at home between 9 and 3, feeling like I have a lead ball in my stomach and watching the clock go agonisingly slow, I’m happy to leave her knowing that she’s happy and my days go a lot quicker.

So, that’s a large part of what’s been going on and why I’ve felt so tongue-tied for the past week or so, and hopefully things will gain some semblance of normality from here! As for the rest of it, you’ll just have to wait for the next instalment!

The Last Word.

Last year, not long after I started this blog, I wrote THIS post about how I collect straws. The basic premise of being a straw collector is that a person who collects straws goes about their day and if something negative happens, they store it up. Then the next minor thing happens and they store that up. They collect up all these ‘straws’ of anger, until they get to the final one and then they snap. I’ve been trying my hardest to not do this, and although I still have a bit of a temper if I’m pushed, I am a lot more chilled out in a lot of ways.

There is, however, a character flaw that I have which is something else that I should really work on, and that is the fact that I feel like I must have the last word. If I argue with someone or have a disagreement, I always feel like I’ve been totally wronged unless I get them to change their opinion. I’ve had disagreements with people in the past which still weigh heavily on my mind because I didn’t get an apology or a retraction from them, even though I know they were totally wrong. I’ll admit, I have a huge chip on my shoulder when it comes to people judging me wrongly. I know who and what I am, and I think I’m a very honest person when it comes to myself, but when people get it wrong, it winds me up terribly.

I have internal conversations which people where I say all of the clever things that I wanted to say during an argument, all of which prove them wrong, make me look wonderfully intelligent and urbane, whilst employing great amounts of grace and wit. Of course, arguments generally just degrade to a point where no one employs much wit, and all that’s being slung is something which rhymes with wit, so I never get to really employ all of these skills that I’ve honed so well inside my own head.

But it’s not very healthy, is it? Sometimes, when I’m walking the dog or washing up or going about some other brainless task, I go over petty rows in my head and I get so wound up that I end up with an ache in my gut and a mood like a bear who’s been disturbed, mid-hybernation. I suppose it’s a bit of longer-term straw collecting, but I just can’t seem to let it go.

I suppose I need to know that I’m not alone in this. Does anyone else do this, or am I the only one with an over-developed jaw muscle from all of the teeth grinding that I do? It can’t just be me, can it? Does this make me a terrible person, this need for people to know that I was right and they were wrong? Gosh, when I put it like that, it does sound that way, doesn’t it?

Not All Wounds Are Visible.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that the last almost-three years of my life has been very much shaped by the traumatic birth of Sausage, and how angry I am about the circumstances surrounding it all. But, although I’ve written my birth story, both on here and for Maternity Matters, I’m not sure I’ve ever really gone into detail about how it’s really affected me.

I mentioned in a blog post recently that I used to be an outdoorsy, summery type person, but how I now like it when it rains as it takes the pressure off of me, in terms of leaving the house. No one expects you to take a small person out of the house for a non-essential trip when it’s pissing down outside, do they? This means that we can stay in the house, within our little cocoon, where it’s safe and familiar. About a year and a half ago, when I thought I was doing better with the PTSD, I was on the bus home from town with Sausage when I had a weird vision that a car was going to drive into the side of the bus. It sounds so crap to say vision, but I can’t think of any other way  to put it. Think ‘Final Destination’; it was that realistic, I saw the car driving into the side of the bus, the section that Sausage and I were sitting in, and in that split second I calculated all of the ways that I could dive in front of the pushchair and protect her. I’m certain this was all down to the residual feelings of guilt and resentment about not being able to protect her during her birth, but nevertheless, I go so worked up that I got off of the bus about 6 stops early and walked the rest of the way because I was SO convinced that a car would crash into the bus. God knows what my poor Husband thought when I burst through the door, 20 minutes later, sobbing, unable to properly breathe and talking about a bus crash.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve had many moments like this and have become accustomed to the fear and anxiety that I feel on an almost daily basis. Every decision that Husband and I make regarding Sausage is doubly analysed and picked over, we know we’re what some people might consider to be over-protective, but it’s the only way we know how to function. Most parents are happy for their kids to go to playschool. I feel like someone is sitting on my chest when I think about sending her to playschool.

Along with the constant fear and anxiety, I also have regular injections of guilt, when I feel like I’m holding her back because of my anxiety. But I comfort myself with the fact that she’s loving, bright and very forward. At our last Health Visitor appointment, Sausage was described as ‘exceptional’ and completed tests deigned for a five-year-old. She’s good with other kids too, we took her to our local soft play centre  recently and she and another little girl latched onto one another and ran around holding hands, laughing and playing the entire time. But I still feel guilty. I think I always will.

Things that are normal to other people will never be normal to me. We live in a bungalow, a fairly small one, and despite the fact that the bedrooms and the living room are all off of one very small hallway, when Sausage falls asleep at night she stays in the lounge, asleep on the sofa, until Husband and I go to bed. If we do put her in bed, which we’ve been doing a lot more recently, we sit in Husbands office for the evening, because it’s closer to the bedroom. And when I say bedroom, I mean OUR bedroom. Sausage has her toddler bed in our room and I’m just not ready to even conceive of the idea of putting her in her own room. I honestly don’t think I’d get a wink of sleep if she were two doors away.

It’s never easy to talk about mental health, or the effect that it has on us, but it can be even harder to put those issues into actual real-life terms. Yes, we have the flashbacks, the anger and the sadness, but it’s how we translate all of this into our daily lives to make them work that’s important. No, I don’t like to take Sausage on trains, which means I don’t take her on visits and people are missing out on seeing her growing up. I feel bad about this, I really do. But I need people to know why I am the way I am. And trust me, it’s not easy. Not doing things is by no means the easiest decision. I can only hope that one day, I’ll get better. But until then, I just have to get by.