Saturday, August 27, 2016

Stop the Stigma / The Battle

Anxiety Level: Super High

"It's easy"
"You'll be fine"
"It's not that hard"
"Just do it"
These may be true to some people but not for me and others with anxiety disorders. It's different for everyone. Everyone has different triggers. My triggers are sometimes hard to identify. Sometimes I don't have a trigger. It's HARD to say "I don't know" when you're asked why you are having anxiety. I feel like I have to convince people that anxiety is real. If you are throwing up at work, you'll probably be sent home. When you're having an anxiety attack, which is so much worse, you have to suck it up. It sucks!! One of my friends passes out when she has panic attacks. I feel so bad for her obviously but it does make her anxiety appear more real. I read something about invisible illnesses a while back. Just because you can't see the illness doesn't make it not real. Most anxiety symptoms are not visible and that makes them not real to a lot of people. It needs to stop. How are we supposed to get better when we have to convince people that it's real? It's possible, but extremely difficult.
People will push us and tell us to get over it but they don't understand that they are making things much harder for us. In order to help your friend we need to stop the stigma and let mental disorders be seen as what they are, an illness. We have no more control over our anxiety than someone has over their cancer. Neither will get better without treatment. Telling a person with anxiety "you'll be fine"is like giving someone medical advice on an illness they know nothing about. Saying "It's easy" or "It's not that hard" is not understanding that they are experiencing something completely different than you are.

I have been going to work even though it's a battle to get out the door. Good for me right? I won the battle. Right? But what if winning the battles didn't help you win the war? Sometimes they don't...
For me there are 2 situations when I battle my anxiety triggers:

 1. Sometimes doing something is a really scary thought, but once you start doing it the anxiety lessens.

Example:  I recently had to return equipment to someone that I had started working for but quit because of my anxiety. I knew he'd be nice about it. He'd already been really understanding and said to let him know if I get my anxiety under control and I can start working again. Even though I knew this I was still freaked out and got terrible anxiety. After I pushed myself to answer my door and help him, my anxiety lessened. He was as nice as ever and it was all okay.

These battles help you win the war.
You begin to see that it isn't so bad, that there is hope and it gives you courage to keep fighting. 

2. You know something you have to do will give you anxiety, but you do it anyways and have terrible anxiety the whole time.

Example: I go to work even though I don't want to since I always get anxiety at work.. Depending on my specific duties that day and the people I'm working with, that anxiety will be worse or better, but it's still there. Once I get to work, my anxiety goes from bad to worse. The whole day is a bloody battle. Once I get home, I am relieved and think how I never want to do that again. The next time I have to go to work it becomes even harder to manage my anxiety. It's kind of like a conditioned response. I go to work, get anxiety, and in my mind work becomes anxiety. Then each time I go to work and get anxiety that idea gets reinforced. My anxiety gets worse and worse until I can't do it anymore.

These battles do not help you win the war. 
You may have beat your anxiety that day but if what you are doing makes your anxiety worse then you will reach a breaking point and lose.

These are my observations from having anxiety. Sometimes it's good to face your anxiety head on but sometimes it's counterproductive. Only the person with anxiety knows what that can probably handle and what they can't. Sometimes you have to take it piece by piece. My problem is I don't know what specific events cause anxiety at work. I know some people can help or hurt but I don't know what specific things make my anxiety worse. Don't push your loved one to do something they just can't do yet. There are things they can do. Try to help the figure out what they can handle and what their triggers are.

Catching up/Reflecting

"I worked at a residential facility for people that have mental illnesses. I had many trainings and junk. I did a  training on Recovery Promoting Relationships and I absolutely loved the quotes from it.

“I can talk, but I may not be heard. I can make suggestions, but they may not be taken seriously. I can voice my thoughts, but they may be seen as delusions. I can recite experiences, but they may be interpreted as fantasies. To be a patient or even an ex-client is to be discounted.” (1988)

I have talked about mental illness stigmas before but it is so important to me."
-Emily (written in Oct or Nov 2015)

 It's been quite a while since I posted. I had a really hard time at that job because I wasn't all there when I started. Towards the end of working there I'd to have panic attacks about going to work almost every shift. I kept calling in sick because I couldn't handle it. I wasn't lying. I was absolutely sick, but people don't see mental illness as being sick. My supervisor was awful. I once showed up to be trained for meds and she was "on her break" I asked the other employee when she'd left and assumed she'd be back soon based on how long she'd already been gone. He told me not to wait around and that she'd be gone for a long time. He said she had some kind of dance class on Tuesdays or something. I'd done that kind of thing when I'd started, forgetting appointments that is.  I was supposed to show up for a special training shift and I'd forget. Looking back, I was much more effected by Kimber's death than I'd realized. During that time I was distracted and forgetful and overall kind of sad. I wasn't crying everyday and I didn't constantly think about it, but I was sad. I did eventually quit that job. I should've quit long before I did. I had been having a really hard day and my supervisor wanted someone to cover her shift. Now I had just had a doctors appointment after getting no sleep that night. (I think I had worked a night shift) I was exhausted. To make matters worse my car broke down on my way back from the doctors. I was able to get it towed to my mechanic. I told her this. I then received a text, that went out to everyone by the way, that said "Emily gave some story about no sleep and and unworking car.." Then: "obviously meant to go to someone else." I quit a couple days later, I couldn't do it anymore. 
I'm a great employee when my anxiety is under control. I am productive and hardworking. When my anxiety hits it all goes downhill. I become less reliable, am late to work, scatterbrained, and shaky. 
Other things that happen when I don't have my anxiety under control: my heart is always racing, I often starts hyperventilating, I am constantly on edge, I get physically tense, I can't concentrate, I get irritated easily, and I get a strong feeling something bad is about to happen. It's not easy to put into words. This is just my anxiety, not my panicking. Panic attacks are much much worse but happen less often. I've always heard that panic attacks last for no more than 10 minutes. This doesn't feel true to me. When it comes to some things I feel like my panic doesn't stop until I'm removed from the situation causing the panic. It may actually be 10 minutes but if it is, it feels so much longer. 

Anxiety Level Nov-Dec 2015: SO SO SO HIGH