She woke up from a poor sleep, with dread in her stomach like a heavy stone. Her heart started racing, her breath became a shallow panting, she tried to slow her breathing and take deeper breaths but her chest felt tight. She knew it was ridiculous, she felt ridiculous; but maybe something really bad was going to happen today.
She got herself up, her jaw ached, she had been grinding her teeth again, and her head was foggy. ‘Maybe it was better to go back to bed?’ She had said she would help her sister out today. She knew her sister just felt she was putting it all on.
She dragged herself around to get ready, her limbs heavy, her heart heavy, she felt on the verge of tears and wished she didn’t have to go. She managed to leave the house, she looked at her car, but just knew she felt too anxious to drive, what if she couldn’t concentrate and knocked someone over, a child maybe? Her heart skipped a beat at the thought.
She walked to the bus stop, the traffic was noisy it all buzzed around her foggy head. She realised she was holding her breath and tired to breathe…breathe…Her heart was still pounding in her chest. She felt sick and hoped the bus was not packed and that she could sit on her own.
A group of school children nosily invaded the bus stop, shouting, laughing and jostling each other. She stepped back. She felt really sick now. Her hands were clammy, her heart pounding faster than ever, she might actually be having a heart attack. No she wasn’t…breathe…breathe…
What if she got trapped on the bus by all the school children and couldn’t get off at her stop. What if the bus driver got distracted by the noise and crashed. The bus pulling up to the bus stop startled her. All the school children piled on and a few other people, she approached the door and looked at the driver, he looked back expectantly for a moment, she froze, her feet stuck to the pavement, he shrugged at her. The doors closed and the bus departed. She watched the bus go, shaking uncontrollably, feeling bad. She walked back home.
Her phone bleeped a text message. With shaky hands she pulled her phone from her bag; A text from her sister:- ‘Thanks for letting me down again’ Her still racing heart pounded loudly in her head. She closed her eyes to the world, feeling frightened and very alone. She knew it was going to be a bad day.
If you are a sufferer of anxiety and panic disorder you may recognise elements of the story above.
The important thing to know is that the symptoms of anxiety are a natural reaction to what we perceive as danger, known as the ‘fight fright flight response’ and can do a lot to protect us.
It is when anxiety gets out of control and starts to affect your life that it is considered a concern.
When you are a ‘sufferer’ of anxiety the symptoms described can happen for no reason we can rationalise, or to a situation that is in the future which we fear will be a threat to us, or go badly in some way. As with any ‘disorder’ there are varying degrees and each person and situation is different. Anxiety can affect anyone, at any age.
However the good news for every sufferer of anxiety is that firstly you are not alone and secondly a lot can be done to relieve you of the symptoms and help you to be back in control of you and your responses to situations and people.
If you live in Kent / South East and would like a free initial consultation then please email or ring me
Here is some advice – things you can do right now:
- Talk to someone you trust, don’t keep it to yourself –if you are at school – maybe talk to a teacher you feel may help you, most schools now do have ‘pastoral care’ a person or persons that are there to assist with your well being. Talk to a friend, your parents, an aunt or uncle.
- Remember there is childline with very supportive people trained to deal with you and your needs 0800 1111. There are many very helpful websites listed below – that will also help parents with children suffering with anxiety
- For an adult, the advice is very much the same – don’t be alone, talk to someone you trust about how you feel, your GP or a helpline. There are many things that can be done to help with anxiety
- There are many different talking therapies like CBT (Cognitive behavioural therapy) – giving you tools to deal with situations and your feelings in a way that serves you better. Maybe a counsellor, or psychotherapy.
- The service I offer includes Hypnotherapy, NLP and coaching techniques, which helps boost your self esteem and confidence.
- Other things you can try that are very effective is
- Exercise – proven to lift mood and general well-being there are so many things to try, the list is endless. To start with you may just want to go walking with a friend or take a dog for a walk (even if you borrow one, and help someone out).
- Mindfulness / relaxation / Yoga / using your wonderful imagination and visualising
- Get outdoors and into nature – the connection with nature is remarkably therapeutic – the woods, a beach, a walk by a river or being a tourist in your own town and local area.
- Switch off the TV and connect with people, your family and friends–
- Take up a positive hobby or training – Become part of a group whether through interest, hobby, sport or volunteering
- Cut down the time spent ‘gaming’ on the computer and mobile devices, particularly at night as the affect on sleep can be profound
- Get enough quality sleep
- Get into a routine of going to bed and getting up at a sensible set time.
- Write down each night three things at least you plan to do the next day, so you wake up with purpose
- Practice gratitude – each night write down three good things from the day
- Eat as healthily as you can
- Help others – volunteer for a charity or help with the organisation of an event. Help someone locally, help a neighbour – when we help others our mood is lifted.
- Get a pet, even a very small one
- Write down how you feel, let it all out without worrying about spelling or grammar – then shred it
Here are some statistics
You are not alone – there are many things that can help; each website I have listed has a lot of advice
The National Statistics office when measuring national well-being in 2015 found that 20% of population rated their anxiety at the highest of levels at the end of 2014.
The Health and Safety Executive reported that 9.9 million working days were lost in 2014 / 15 due to anxiety, stress and depression.
Out of 43% of working days in 2014/15 were lost due to ill health 35% was stress related.
The Mental Health Foundation www.mentalhealth.or.uk reported that in 2013 there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety – I would add that there would be many more people who also suffered but did not seek help and sadly it is mostly men, younger men in particular that do not seek help.
Anxiety UK state on their website www.anxietyuk.org.uk that –
- a quarter of over 50 year olds suffer with anxiety issues
- 1 in 8 of 10 to 15 year olds suffer some form of mental health concern
- In general 1 in 5 people at any one time suffer with anxiety
- And that 20% of students suffer with anxiety
Mind www.mind.org.uk echoes what has been mentioned above
Anxiety affects 4.7 in 100 people
Anxiety with depression 9.7 in 100 people
Panic Disorder 1.2 in 100 people (January 2014)
Young Minds www.youngminds.org.uk report
3.3% nearly 290,000 children and young people have an anxiety disorder
Mental Health Matters www.mentalhealthmatters.com – have great advice and a free 24/7 helpline with trained advisors on hand – each area has a number
All of these organisations have websites and give good advice.
There is so much that can be done, don’t be alone
I hope this helps