Welcome back to A Jackals Voice.Since I made this Blog I've been writing about my own problems, including anxiety, because I wanted to address mental health on a more personal level. I've reached a point now where some people are contacting me, and most of it is very positive so please keep writing! However, those that don't suffer from anxiety, or have trouble understanding others that do, don't seem to understand the difference between being anxious and having Anxiety, so that's what I would like to talk about today.
Just before I start I want to say that this might upset some people given the metaphor and sarcasm I use. Whilst I personally don't believe in 'Trigger Warnings' (Topic for another time) you have been warned.
Now then, I have previously said that I wouldn't go into all the specifics of anxiety as a condition because those that suffer anxiety tend to get tired of reading it. Or at least I do. However, to try and explain to others what anxiety as a condition is like, I think it is a necessary evil.
So, boring part first. Please note: I am NOT a Medical Expert, but I have been given a lot of reading material from such people on anxiety. Sadly, most of the leaflets and guides that are given out are just the same document formatted differently, but it goes something like this:
Anxiety is a natural part of human life. It occurs due to our 'fight or flight' response, which is triggered when our brain perceives a threat. When a potential threat is encountered our bodies go into overdrive. Blood pumps faster, thoughts rush by, breathing gets deeper etc, all in preparation to either 'Fight' or 'Flee'. Back in the early days of humanity, when were were hunters etc, this was a very useful tool. It continues to be useful in some scenarios, all be it more rarely, when we or someone else is in danger. If you've ever watched a video when someone jumps onto a train track to rescue someone you can bet that this process happened to them. Believe it or not, adrenaline is also produced by anxiety attacks, which is probably why you don't find many skydivers amongst our ranks. We get our thrills for free!
The problem is, in today's world we don't really need this evolutionary response anymore and many people go about their lives without too much trouble. However, some people for whatever reason have issues with their brain. It triggers at things that it shouldn't. Then, because most people logically make the observation there is nothing to be run from or fight, we are left with our hearts racing, chest pains and all the other issues that comes with the response.
So that's the medical bit. The reason why I haven't gone into it before is due to the fact that it doesn't quite cover everything. It doesn't explain why some people have anxiety about going out in public, or about other peoples opinions or writing an essay. The problem is it puts anxiety in a box, and nobody puts anxiety in the box!
The thing is, that whilst the anxious response can be explained, it's effects vary from person to person. Most people get anxious before a test, I get anxious before a test, but that is Not Anxiety as a condition. Anxiety as a condition is when the response goes crazy. I've heard people say; 'Everyone gets anxious, you just gotta suck it up and move through it'. Whilst I would love to do that sir, I have to decline because I think my heart might explode and I'd rather not be an inconvenience to anyone.
I know I'm joking about it, but that is what it feels like. It is not all in my head. It's physical. Most of the time I don't realize I'm having an anxiety attack because I'm too focused on holding my chest in agony or desperately trying to find something to hold me up. It's a chemical response gone rogue. I have no control in that moment and it can be very hard to get back to normal.
To try and explain it differently, imagine you're flying a plane. You've been trained to fly and you know what you're doing. You have all your dials in front of you telling you about the wind, fuel, engines and such. Everything is as it should be.
Now imagine a lighting strike which blows out all of your dials. Suddenly, you don't know anything about where you are, whats happening, if the engines are still going. The steering isn't functioning properly and that lightning probably hurt your eyes too. You're now trapped inside a machine that, whilst you know how to operate when it's working, is now useless and hurtling towards the ground. In that moment of terror your co-pilot learns over and says; 'Just get on with it mate, land the plane'. To me, that's what I hear when I'm having a panic attack. I know I'm gonna be fine, I know that it will pass, but do not tell me to just get on with it as if it were that easy. Essentially I'm piloting a body that is not doing what I expect it to do and, frankly, it concerns me a little at times.
The last thing I will say about anxiety is that it's different for everyone. Not everyone's body responds the same way. Some people have trouble with their stomach, their limbs, their senses, all these things can be effected, and it can be very painful along with terrifying. I've explained my own anxiety in other posts which you're welcome to read if you click the labels. My Anxiety is bound to be different to someone else's, and what triggers my response is going to be different too. I have only written what it can feel like in my experience, and i would encourage you to read other peoples stories too. One of the best sites for this would be The Mighty, which can be found on the Links page.
Thank you to all my readers for your support, please keep sending me messages or comments I really love the input. Feel free to share this with others and comment your own thoughts too.
This has been,
A Jackals Voice.