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.
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