Why So Serious 3 of 3: Mental Health – Anxiety

When you’re ill you go to the doctors. When you break a bone you go to the hospital (and proceed to wait around in A&E for a billion hours to be told to go home and take a paracetamol for the pain!) However when you suffer from any symptom under the giant umbrella of mental illness, you generally do nothing about it because it’s not deemed real enough for you and those around you to give a shit. It’s like you are too ashamed to admit you need help to ‘fix’ all the funky vibes in your head because that in turn makes you sound ‘crazy’. Our mental health is super important but often neglected and signed off as overreacting and quite frankly it pisses me off. Just because the pain is not a physical scar and you can’t put a plaster on it, swallow Calpol or apply pressure to stop the bleeding, does not mean it’s a fictitious illness and should be side-lined in any way, shape or form. Ignoring this will only make you feel heaps more insane… and this my friend you are not*.

*ok this is technically a lie and can't actually be proven. You might be totally insane but I don't wanna be rude and judge you seeing as we've only just met! Jolly good.

Anxiety is defined as a psychological and physiological state born from our emotions and cognitive behaviour. Or alternatively, a sign of coping with shit for so long that it finally breaks you. Basically it’s a stress and feeling of fear and unease that can disable an individual affecting their everyday life. The strength of this intimidating feeling can be highly overwhelming and distressful at best. It can be triggered by anything and manifest into an irrational uncontrollable fear. Some people simply live with this and have their own coping mechanisms, some struggle... and diffusing this almost exaggerated threat is a constant uphill battle. Sometimes you don’t even know what the cause of the anxiety is and that is a whole new frustration you’re left to decipher. This disorder can wreck your confidence and smash gaping holes in your self-esteem if you let it. And my guesses are…  you will let it and continue to do absolutely nothing about it.

We all get a little anxious at times. Whether that’s because we’ve found ourselves in a situation we are not 100% comfortable with or bugging about work, family, friends… OR impossible security questions designed to piss you off when trying to access YOUR OWN account with telephone banking!! “When was the last time you withdrew from a cash machine and the amount please?! Oh and can you fax through a reference from your primary school teacher, a recording of you singing pitch perfect the national anthem of Tonga and the blood of a virgin. Please press the hash key if these questions make you wanna cry actual tears. Thanks.” But I digress… the point is… we all stress. It’s common practice in modern day society. However, when the stress consumes you into a panicked frenzy, that’s when shit gets real.

The effects of an anxiety attack vary from individual to individual. It can start as heart palpitations, twitchy hands, chest pains and end up in a dizzy episode gasping for air in the middle of the fruit and veg aisle in Tescos. It’s said that the maximum time an attack can last is 25 minutes before it plateaus and eventually subsides. So yay the holy show you’ve just made of yourself in public is fleeting… and nobody really saw you execute the foetal position in the car park… right?! Having an anxiety attack can be mortifying and scary all at once, and not just for you but for those around you. It’s confusing trying to figure out what the hell just happened and the overanalysing can easily lead to more emotions of fear that can inevitably bring on another attack.

So that all sounds crap and pretty sure I’ve sufficiently bummed you out… however at the risk of sounding like a dickhead Michael Jackson impersonator… “You are not alone!”  If you suffer from anxiety disorder you can get your shit together and help reduce and sometimes eliminate the attacks. Medication is always an option, but in my personal opinion I think you gotta tackle the underlying issues buried in your subconscious. I think everyone should have a therapist! There I said it. Someone who is not your best mate who can objectify the workings of your head and help break it down for you with no judgement but sweet sound advice.

There are hundreds of mental health gateways online you can tap into for awesome advice such as the NHS and Mental Health Ireland. You can even check out one of the UK’s leading anxiety charities connecting with other sufferers… and holy cow there’s even an app for that! Ain’t technology grand! Finding a local therapist to talk to (face to face or even via the internet for convenience and the not so brave amongst us) about your problems is not an admission of failure, it simply shows how bad ass and strong you are! So don’t leave me hanging here… this is my final instalment of ‘being serious’ and it took a lot out of me! Anyone can suffer in silence…  it’s easy! But it takes a huge amount of courage to ask for help.

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