When anxiety has a stranglehold on you.

When anxiety has a stranglehold on you.

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It’s midnight. The world around you is fast asleep. But, you aren’t. You are tossing and turning in bed, anxiously awaiting sleep that seems to be playing a game of hide-n-seek with you. Eventually, after what seems like hours, your eyelids begin to droop. But, just when you feel a sense of calm come over you, a thought creeps into your mind, unannounced, and at once you are awake. The sleep that was at the threshold, has turned around and left.

The thought has now taken over your mind. A thought that is scary, terrifying and only increasing in its enormity by the moment. You begin to breathe heavily, taking in lungful of air, but suddenly feel suffocated and feel a horrid kind of fear taking shape in the pit of your stomach. You start panting and the restlessness increases to such an extent, you just wish to get out of the room, which feels like it’s caving in on you.

The fear now feels like a claw that surges upwards towards your chest, grips your heart and squeezes the life out of it and the world comes crashing down on you. You beg the thought to leave your mind; you pray for the anxiety and the fear to leave you in peace, but it takes more than prayers for it to happen. Finally, after what seems like an eternity, the thought leaves you. Exhausted, you fall asleep.

Have you experienced this, ever?

For me, anxiety and fear have been my constant companions for years. Being a caregiver for two patients of mental illness took its toll. Not a day went by when I wasn’t nervous, scared and anxious about something untoward happening and things going wrong. Try as I might, I couldn’t control Life and all that She brought with Her.

It is exhausting, this living with anxiety, day in day out. You put up a brave face for your family, for the world; you put on a mask of serenity so that others around you stay happy. But, after some time, it feels like a burden that keeps getting heavier. A burden that threatens to crush you under its weight.

After fighting this battle with anxiety all these years, I decided it was time to seek help. I couldn’t go on with it anymore. Moreover, with all that happened few months ago, the situation had only worsened. Sharing my fears with others is not something that comes naturally to me. Each one of us is fighting a battle, and to burden others with my worries is not something I can imagine doing, ever.

Close ones chid me for being so guarded, so “closed”, but the fear that, what if I share my worries precisely when they are going through rough times, themselves? stops me from doing so. And, so, I sought the help of my psychiatrist.

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders with 1 out of every 14 people being likely affected.

I never knew I would be one of those 14 suffering from Anxiety Disorder until my psychiatrist broke the news to me last month. Was I glad I sought his help? I was, of course, but I wished I had sought this help long ago. I would have dealt with Life much better.

Lack of sleep, panic and fear, breathlessness, heart palpitations, dizziness are all symptoms of Anxiety Disorder. Your rational thinking gets affected and the anxiety that you suffer from, becomes overwhelming–an everyday affair.

Sharing problems with your close family and friends does help to an extent. But, the best course is to seek professional help. Anxiety can interfere with your everyday life, and can lead to depression, and also an increased risk of suicide.

Before things get completely out of control, approach a psychiatrist who will counsel you in the best possible way, prescribe drugs that will not only help you sleep well, but also help you learn to control the thought processes that lead to anxiety. It could take some time, but it’s all worth it. YOU are worth it!

How I manage my anxieties today:

The meds prescribed by my doctor help me enjoy an uninterrupted sleep and keep me alert to the thoughts that take form in my mind.

Blogging, writing, reading and art have helped me stay afloat. My work helps me keep my mind occupied. It’s when I am busy in these activities that my anxieties are at bay.

My pets take care of me at other times. Earlier, when Chikoo was around, he provided the buffer against the stress and the fear. And, now, I have Cookie. She may be a bird, but she is very well attuned to me and my moods. She is the first one to sense my discomfort and perches on my shoulder when she sees me upset. And, for these babies, I will be ever so grateful!

Since the past some months, I have developed a habit of trying to live in the moment; of not thinking about the future or the past, but only the present. Practising mindfulness helps, but It’s not easy, really. It’s an everyday habit one needs to work on, consistently.

Gratitude helps, too. Ending the day by thanking all that the Universe brings for me; for all the things that work out, as well as all that don’t and the lessons that I learn from them all, further helps calm the mind.

Living every day as if it were my last and doing my best in everything I do also helps me reduce the amount of anxiety that still lurks around the corner, threatening to takeover my mind.

Listening to music, yoga, walking and chatting with my nephew helps me keep my mind busy. Focusing on my breath while doing my asanas helps me learn to concentrate, as does drawing complicated mandalas.

It’s so necessary that we find the activity that not only keeps us busy and our mind occupied, but also one that enriches us, refreshes us and calms our nerves. Something that acts like the lighthouse that guides you to safety.

Anxiety disorders, if left untreated, can take a toll on our entire system, so it’s better to seek help. Sooner, the better. Our mental health is at stake, and if our mind isn’t healthy, how can we live a healthy, happy life?

Dear reader, if you, or a loved one, suffers from extreme anxiety, or has been suffering from anxiety since some time now, please, seek help. Remember, there is no health without mental health.

Love,

SHILPA…

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34 thoughts on “When anxiety has a stranglehold on you.

  1. First of all, hugs Shilpa, lots and lots of it. I understand and identify with every single word, written and unwritten, in this post. Living with hyper anxiety is not easy but suffering and not knowing it or being aware of the label makes it more difficult. Labels and labeling are deemed to have negative connotations but this one label for my issues – ‘hyper anxiety’ – was the first step in the fixing of me. I can vouch for the fact it is not easy to share our fears with anyone because we are considerate and mindful of others’ problems and we know we are not the only one suffering. But, like always, don’t hold yourself back from sharing your fears and anxieties with me. My phone is dead but still, there is FB messenger. I had my husband supporting by listening to me but talking to you, Balaka and Vinitha helped me more during those times. Just know I am here to hear you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know Anu that you are there for me, and for that thank you so much! But, for all that you yourself are going through, I can’t even imagine sharing my anxieties with you, so I share those with my doctor. Or, sometimes, I share it with my besties and my cousins, but after the anxious moments have passed. After which they scold me for not sharing earlier! πŸ™‚
      Hugs to you, too, for all that you are going through. I hope and pray for you that you are able to heal yourself and get over it some day.
      Love and hugs!

      Like

  2. Shilpa, the symptoms you have described I have experienced a few times, maybe because we are stressed about some events in the family or worried about others. But I have never felt them for a long period of time. It’s so difficult those feelings and those nights of tossing and turning and feeling restless that I can not even begin to understand a person’s plight who goes through it on a regular basis. I am glad you took professional help and got engaged in things that make you happy. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Anshu, we all feel anxious about certain matters in our daily lives–we worry about our kids, their schooling, their health…health of our family members–and that anxiety is normal. It’s when it gets chronic that one needs to worry. Anxiety and fear, if persistent over a long period of time, can completely ruin your peace of mind. And, that’s why it is so necessary that one visits a counsellor or a psychiatrist to seek help.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The biggest part of this post that I really felt was not sharing your feelings for worry that the other person is going through a tough time as well. I feel that so deeply. I kept my anxiety from my family for so long because I knew that they had other stressors and I did not want to be another stress for them. However, I have found it to be extremely helpful, especially for my agoraphobia, to be at least somewhat honest with the people who are closest to me about what is going on in my mind and with my situation. Hugs to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh dear! How difficult it must be for you to tackle the phobia! Hugs to you, too!
      Yes, even when I know that I have people with whom I can share my anxieties, and that they will leave aside their work to listen to me, I still feel guilty of adding to their worry. I am actually fighting with myself to open up and share my feelings, my worries with a closest few people.

      Take care! ❀

      Like

  4. Yes Shilpa, it’s a problem which in most cases is hidden and people are not much open to talk about it and seek help. And this problem can come to anyone…..the best way to cope with it is to talk to others and get help, not just brood within and making matters worse…….good to hear that you are coping with it in your own way……for me, music’s been my greatest guide and help in everything, also I love watching movies, read books and am deep into blogging, and being with the blogging community…..keeps your mind engaged…:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, Anindya..all the activities we busy ourselves with are some of the only support we have, apart from of course, our closest people and counsellors, with whom we can share. However, sharing our anxieties can sure be a tough thing. Letting go of our inhibitions is necessary.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s great that you shared this on your blog. Anxiety is so much more common than we realise. As an anxious person {or functionally anxious as I say}, I know anxiety is a constant companion. Mindfulness is helpful for the generalised forms of anxiety and it’s something I still struggle with. Anxiety is about the what ifs…we need to learn to acknowledge that while not avoiding and living in the present.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes…it is all about “What if?”, and more often than not, we imagine only the worst things happening that only increase the fear and the anxiety.

      I decided to share it here on my blog because I know how many people suffer from it and will be able to relate and not feel alone, the way I used to feel earlier.

      Like

  6. I have occasionally had panic attacks where I thought I was dying, so I can guess how anxiety can work. But I’m sure you’ve been through much worse. As always, I love your practical and authentic approach to life. I’m so glad you sought help and that it’s working for you apart from the pet therapy and the mindfulness. Please know that you attract so much positivity by your spirit that there will always be people willing to be there for you if you need, Shilpa.
    Love, always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those last lines of your comment make me feel blessed, Corinne! Thank you so much! ❀

      I do get scared…almost always, but then there is not much my fear can do for me. I also wish to run away sometimes, but then common sense brings me back to my senses and I have to look for practical stuff to help me out. πŸ™‚

      Like

  7. Dearest ((((((((Shilpa)))))))

    Big bear hugs ❀ ❀

    First of all know that you are a Braveheart. And an incredible one at that. I personally feel that the first step to winning the battle is having the courage to talk or write about it. Which you have done so beautifully.

    I can totally understand what you would be going through. I've been there a few years back, and it's not easy at all, on the other hand the most daunting emotional roller coaster ride. I used to fear the bit when sleep would elude.

    But I feel you are coping so very well. You are on the right path already. You are a reflection of positivity and love. Your stunning art, your diligence and commitment towards blogging, is an inspiration and I'm sure in some ways is helping you in your journey of healing. I salute your indomitable spirit.
    And please never shy from sharing with your near and dear ones. Especially in the moment of anxiety. I know it isn't easy at that point of time, but hugely helpful.

    Tibetian medicines also worked wonders for me. They are from Dalai Lamas institute and centres called Men-see-khang. They have branches across India and have a clinic in Bombay too. Check them out if it helps: http://www.men-tsee-khang.org/branch/

    Will be chanting for you well-being and good health. Take care, my dear friend. ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so so much, Natasha! WIll definitely look up the link you shared.

      I am trying my best..like always, and I am sure I will get out of this someday. I have a very good doctor helping me out and some really loving close friends and family. ALl I need to learn is to share! πŸ™‚ That’s one thing I find the toughest.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So glad you have a great therapist, Shilpa. We all learn. Don’t stress yourself too much about that.
        You are doing most of the things needed to bounce back and you will in no time.
        In case you feel like it, I’m also just a call away. β™₯️

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m so proud of you for writing this! I battle anxiety on and off too and I know how hard it is. Those sleepless nights and headaches still gives me a chill down my spine. When one goes through it, it gets so tough. You did it while taking care of two others, kudos to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It has been in my system for such a long time now, that I had to get it out from there…It’s tough, really. Just imagining that I might not be able to sleep well fills me with dread, sometimes, and I do anything possible to fall asleep sooner. It will take sometime, but I am sure I will get over it…I HOPE I get over it! πŸ™‚

      Like

  9. I consider myself an anxious person too, Shilpa. But luckily haven’t experienced loss of sleep though headaches due to stress and all this hormonal stuff. I am so happy that you sought help. Some things we have to do for ourselves and one of them is approaching a therapist. I’ve found it to be very useful. Hugs for am that you’ve suffered. Do take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. hey brave woman! This is an incredible post as you have bared so much of you here – I applaud you for that!! Hugs and love for taking this step of getting out of your comfort zone and seeking help!
    Even if everyone is dealing with their own shit, the ones closest to you have the time and space to deal with yours too. Thats what close relationships are all about. You do everyone around you a big disservice by keeping things from them.
    Let them be there for you as you are there for them! And just like you didnt hesitate to unburden on the specialist, maybe you could do that bit by bit with your closest circle.
    I was super proud of you to go for the Awards ceremony recently – I know it must have taken a lot to do it!! You looked terrific – gorgeous and happy!!
    Your artwork is just improving day by day- I told you what my sis felt when she went through it. Do give a serious thought to take it a notch higher like we discussed.
    I am a message away- you know that! xoxo

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    1. You know, what you said in the second para is precisely what a cousin told me the other day. She scolded me for not sharing my troubles and now I have decided to be more open. πŸ˜›
      Yes, I am trying to work on myself and it’s going to take time for me to change…but change will happen!
      I have noted down your suggestions and will one day work on those…promise!
      Thanks so much, Shalz! ❀

      Like

  11. Its a tough battle indeed Shilpa. Anxiety disorder struck me when my daughter was born and without me realising what it was, I lived life for 5 years. It took me a while to overcome it, and the years of suffering were difficult to handle.

    Cheers to you for writing this post. I reminded me of my days !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 5 years!! That must have been a really tough period for you, Ramya!
      It was getting tough for me, too, and so I am happy I sought help. We all need it, really. It’s just that many of us tend to take ourselves for granted. Sigh.

      Like

  12. Hugs, Shilpa! First, let me tell you, you can always talk to me when you feel like. Please don’t hesitate if you feel the need. I like to talk about my troubles or the other person’s troubles because as far as I’m concerned the help derived through sharing is mutual. I went through a phase with no friends from the past two years when all my friends got too busy and I couldn’t talk to anyone. It changed me so much that I’m still a mess. So I know talking helps and not talking creates more trouble. I do share my problems with friends I’m blessed through blogging. Can’t be grateful enough for that.
    Another thing is knowing that someone else is going through a similar problem is a relief of sorts, because then we can lean on each other, right? So don’t hesitate to share.
    I am glad you sought the necessary help. I think going to a therapist should be an annual or once in 6 months thing like we do our annual physical check-up. I think so highly of you and your talent. Please take care of yourself. ❀

    Liked by 1 person

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