Anxiety is a common word that is thrown around and means something different for each individual. For some people, it’s just for specific situations. For example, being around a lot of noise pushes a lot of autistic people into a meltdown, anxiety or panic attack due to high anxiety. For others, it can just be sweating and other side affects before a presentation. For many, it’s overthinking situations way out of proportion and those situations are rarely ever as bad as they made it out to be in their mind.
Today, I want to briefly talk about what anxiety means to me.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve had anxiety. It never used to be this bad, but it’s always been there. As a kid, and now, it’s been anxiety about being away from my mother. About being away from home. Loud noises. People. Situations that I knew nothing or little about, I always had to have control and I always had to know everything that was happening or was going to happen.
My anxiety has mostly been circulated around social and medical situations.
I don’t remember very much about my childhood, I just have a poor memory. That’s all I really remember about my anxiety from there.
In secondary school, I was being bullied. Part of my autistic assessment was for anxiety, which was done in my first year of secondary school, and they said it was unusually high for my age and helped with my diagnosis. I moved to a different secondary school later that year, to an autistic unit in a mainstream school twenty minutes away where I was continued to be bullied and this is where my anxiety really sky-rocketed.
My theories for this is that maybe my autistic meltdowns have been repressed, and that’s why my anxiety is so high. You weren’t punished for meltdowns in the unit but they still acted like you were just misbehaving and unless you were crying/panicking they didn’t try to calm you down because you were being violent. This is understandable, as when someone is being violent you really want to reduce the injuries that come out of it, but it’s still not their fault. As a young teenager, my meltdowns and feelings of being overwhelmed were verbally violent.
It then led to me becoming mostly mute. I didn’t speak unless I was spoken to. I kept myself to myself. I’m still like this. I was incapable of group work. I couldn’t under any circumstances make myself do a presentation. It continued at home. I experienced my first panic attacks, which led to me almost making trips to A&E thinking I was dying or going to die. I was angry at home. It led to a massive increase in paranoia (the kind where I stop eating for days convinced someone is trying to poison me type of paranoia).
Fast forward to today, I don’t leave my house. I leave for college, when I am invited out (and I don’t usually go out if it’s a one on one situation) and that’s it. I finished college three weeks ago. I left for a hospital operation, another hospital visit to check my tooth for infection and then I left yesterday as my mother wanted me to take a walk. I went out today with my boyfriends family but had a panic attack and I don’t think I’ll be going out again anytime soon.
It’s a challenge when living your day to day life is difficult because even breathing is a challenge. It’s a matter of taking it day by day. Planning ahead. Using calming techniques regularly.
For someone without anxiety, they can be put into a situation that makes them nervous/anxious and even experience panic attacks or anxiety attacks but once they are out of that situation, they have recovered and they are okay. This doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t have anxiety for those particular situations, though. With anxiety, you don’t need a situation to be anxious. You can be out of an anxious situation, and still be shaky and still need to try and stay calm. It’s when even being calm is anxiety inducing because being calm can mean that something bad will happen and I always need to be on high alert.
Anxiety is absolutely crippling and I wish it on no-one.