anxiety mental health Mental Health Mondays psychology wellbeing writing yoga

Mental Health Mondays – 4. Living with anxiety

I often wake up with a rock in my stomach. A solid, heavy rock. Sometimes it feels that it’s spinning, other times it’s pulling me down. Occasionally it makes me dizzy or nauseous. Some days it feels bigger, some days I can barely feel it, but it’s still there. That’s how anxiety manifests on me.

I don’t remember when I started struggling with anxiety. I suspect I always had it, since I was a child, I just didn’t know what it was. I was always a worrier. I remember worrying every time an inspector came to school to check us for lice in case I had any and got embarrased in front of the whole school, or whether my skirt was caught in my underwear (this still worries me!). As I grew older, my concerns took various forms and combined with a few traumatic experiences e.g. my ex stalking me for a year or so, emotional abuse etc, I reached a point I couldn’t handle it more than once.

Only in the last few years I manage to cope more efficiently. I just cope, it doesn’t really go away. But even to the day, every now and then it gets out of hand. Only a year ago, I was so stressed I lost my appetite and that gave me sever stomachache. It physically hurt to eat anything. After that, I promised myself I wouldn’t let it reach to that level again.

It can still happen, I know that, but at least I can handle it better. Yoga, running, my guitar, writing, travelling, spending time with loved ones and a lot of me time help me the most.

I’ve written about anxiety many a time:

Heatwaves, pandemic, anxiety and here I am, stuck in the middle.

Lockdown fever (why lockdown needs to end asap)

How anxiety feels like…

Following my dreams (just need to find out what they are) Chapter 2: Cyprus

(check my page for more) and I’ve been chatting about it with strangers, colleagues, friends, and loved ones for years. I don’t think I’ll ever stop!

Although I had a great week, going to the vegetable and fruit market after many many years, a day at the beach, a few days in Berlin (minus the cruel flight times and the extreme heatwave), the halloumi and anari workshop, and relaxing at the swimming pool afterwards, my anxiety levels have been off the roof as my to-do list grows longer and longer!

Anxiety hits you in many shapes and forms. For me it’s psychosomatic, it gives me headaches and stomachaches and occasionally panic attacks (and insomnia), for others it’s heart arrythmia, blurry vision, nightmares, compulsive eating. Anxiety is a beast, it can cause or aggravate other disorders e.g. OCD and depression and it’s quite common.

According to a 2018 OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development) report, “The most common mental disorder across EU countries is anxiety disorder, with an estimated 25 million people (or 5.4% of the population) living with anxiety disorders, followed by depressive disorders, which affect over 21 million people (or 4.5% of the population)”.

And based on a World of Health Organisation (WHO) report,In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by a massive 25%”.

So, let’s talk about it, learn how to recognise anxiety signs and symptoms on ourselves and others and help each other. How do you experience anxiety?

Eleni

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