How Anxiety and Stress are Like a School Bully

I’d like to start by stating that I am not a license professional, the views expressed in this article as per usual are my own.

I decided to centre this week’s topic around something that’s near and dear to me, anxiety disorders.

This Saturday passed I’d arranged to meet up with my bestie for much needed ‘us’ time. Or a ‘drank’ as we call it, because it’s never one drink.

I woke up with my phone blowing up to indicate that he was in hospital. Naturally, my first response was what the flying fuck?! But these nerves were thankfully quelled when he got the results to indicate that it was an anxiety attack, don’t get me wrong, it’s still incredibly worrying but at least we knew he’d live.

Rewind two years ago and I’m working at a company which to be honest was as results -driven as you could get. You know the type; performance supersedes people.

How these places think this business model will help them to thrive, God only knows?!

There I am doing some or other task and my palms start sweating, a moment later I’m struggling to breathe.

The fun doesn’t stop there however, nope, it felt like a WWE wrestler had me in a bear hug and was squeezing the life out of me every few goddamn minutes.

I laid down in one of the empty rooms, I should have been wondering who I’d call but my first thought was keeping this shit under wraps.

Eventually I decided to leave for the day, drove home mid-attack and woke my parents up to get me to the emergency room.

There I had some test done and they gave me a sedative to relax my soul.

Unbenownst to my younger but still very handsome self, I was in the throws of my first panic attack. Of all the delicious events that had transpired so far, my favourite was still when the nurse on duty, looked at me like I’m faking the whole thing.

Yep, the pain was real and again, that wrestler I spoke about earlier was still periodically squeezing the crap out of me but sure...I was doing it for the attention, right?!

It took me about a year and a better company to be diagnosed with a anxiety disorder and panic attacks.

Stress vs anxiety

One piece of advice that made me want to throw a shoe at someone was, "you need to relax and take it easy". Yeah, so it doesn’t actually work that way.

My purely subjective experience is that when what the tools are to manage stress, it builds to the degree where our brains decide we need to respond some way sends John Cena to give us a bear hug. I would not complain if that really happened btw.

My inappropriate thirst aside, anxiety becomes an anxiety disorder when its persistant and the sensation I keep referring to is a panic attack. What’s a big stresser is that these arrive at anytime, you could be scrolling through social media posts, feeding fluffy or even sleeping. You got it, it can even happen when you’re dreaming you’ve been inducted as an official Avenger and Tony Stark let’s you lead the team. Don’t judge me, this was hot off the heels of 'Avengers: Infinity War' dammit.

One scary fact is that it’s on the rise globally and more worrying, it’s on the rise in youth and adolescents according to an article from Psychology Today.

We need to clarify that this is very real both psychologically and physically. While anxiety something that can be managed and treated, it will never go away because it’s caused by worrying. Specifically worrying about one of the trademarks of being human, the future. The future and uncertainty.

Living in the uncertain times that we do and dealing with our own demons, it’s understandable that we’re pretty much psychological time bombs waiting to go kablooey.

How I keep my nuts and bolts together

I wanted to keep this one about what I do because again, I don’t have those qualifications to legally dole out advice. As someone who practices both yoga and meditation I find that it really helps keep my thoughts in order, especially when those fuckers decide to wreak havoc with my noggin.

I also take at least one day per week devoted purely to pampering myself and set out some time to game once a day.

While this doesn’t mean I’ve eliminated worry and transcended to the level of a buddhist monk, it does mean that I can better direct my thoughts and concerns when they start getting out of control. I’m still human after all.

My point is you aren’t alone, this shouldn’t diminish your experience in any way, but it does mean there are more people out there dealing with this than you know.

The Stigma

Cool, so why the silence? Since this is increasing on a such a large scale, we should have info about anxiety coming out of our ears right?

Better still, we should have the tools to deal with anxiety before it becomes a disorder and that dreaded panic attack. My truth, is it’s still a mental disorder, for the most part. And that means there’s a stigma around it. Because we can’t see it, there’s no way it’s real.

And worse, how will people look us if they know that we’re trying to manage this. This one’s on everyone I’m afraid, society as a whole for treating this subject like grandma who hushes an unruly kid during a church service and those dealing with it for remaining silent.

Don’t get me wrong, your condition--you prerogative but there should still be quite a few of us voicing this. One of my favourite fantasy series (the Dresden Files) says according to magical law, if you give something a name, you have power of it. Let’s call out Anxiety and take our power back!

I tend to think of these disorders as school bullies. One that tends to push you around, take your lunch and pretty much life a misery right? That is until you drag that asshole into the light, once you’ve got your parents and teacher in on this tyranny, you can begin to make a change for that better.

This goes for depression too, my other nemesis but I won’t get into that now. These disorders or imbalances if that’s what you want to call them, they don’t define us, they’re simply part and parcel of the human condition.

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