This ongoing project translates personal everyday suffering while living with the many anxiety disorder symptoms. My anxiety disorder started when I was eight years old. It began from the environment I was living in and the family members. It kept escalating by the compulsion of the uninformed family to try to explain what was wrong with me. It is pervasive for people who suffer from anxiety disorders to hear from the uninformed.
It affects mental health and takes a toll on physical, emotional, sentimental, and social life. None of these are visible, so the gravity of these is not understood or taken seriously. The reaction to certain things like a phone ringing or somebody saying hello is the same as if somebody is running away from a killer or a bear. Most of the time, this hypersensitive stage is turned on for many varied reasons. This series shows the deterioration of a person’s life and the only possible means for the uninformed to do some reflection without claiming to explain it.
Some symptoms are difficult to put in words. Going to the toilet and thinking blood will come out means you have cancer, and I will die in days or months. Mundane situations becomes a matter of death every minute in a continuous cycle. There is a constant fear. Most times, there is no reason behind this feeling. Or, it could be any prompting situation like hearing somebody died of cancer, so that will happen to me as well. This feeling stays from a minute to months. It stops, slows down, and restart again.
It was common for me to keep thinking about any past event and coming up with the number of things that could have gone wrong. The event doesn’t have to be significant. It could be a monotonous everyday life event. I slight slip on the stairs will run through my mind for years. Going through all the worst possible things that could have happened from “I would have banged my head on the stairs and bleed to death” to “I could have broken my neck and be paralyzed.” It doesn’t constantly come into mind. However, these thoughts come and go. They do not occur every minute but they are regular and jolting enough.
The feeling is comparable to a tornado in the abdominal. Anxiety creates a lot of stomach problems like shooting pains and acid reflux. There are times when the stomach experiences as if somebody is twisting it from inside. It lingers for two to three days or a longer period of time while creating bigger problems like loss of appetite, nausea, bloated, constipation/diarrhea and so forth.
The root of all problems are the constant negative thoughts. The single biggest reason why anxiety keeps getting deeper and deeper. This negative rationale makes it difficult to outdo anxiety disorders. They are unceasing and loud in the mind that it alters the way of thinking. Even positive experiences turns into a negative influence in the mind. Hence, there is no happiness and enjoyment of any positive aspects of life. Some of the instances that precede are I am not worthy of winning a contest, I am not good enough to be in a relationship, I am a failure, I will never be good enough and many more.
With the major hit on the concentration leading to swirling of thoughts, it becomes fatiguing to read, write, sleep, and working. This whirlwind stays for as long as for a months to a year. Thoughts could vary from any topic or issue. They don’t have to be important. They could be as basic as ordering a food or choosing a pen. During these phases, I might be reading a paragraph and thinking about what I have to do tomorrow which results in two things. First, I have to read the whole thing multiple times, and, second, since nothing was registered, to the point, that when reading it again, it is like reading it for the first time.
The symptom of loneliness never goes away. It is easy to understand but difficult to explain. The feeling of lack of understanding or the comprehension of anybody to understand the mental state is prevalent and to an extent true. No matter how close a person is but nobody ever feels close enough to share things or have a conversation. Nobody to share my happiness or be there for me when I am in need. In my mind, everybody is busy in their own lives or they have more important people than me. I always feel incomplete emotionally.
Trembling or twitching symptom vary from a certain muscle or the whole body. When the anxiety is too high for a very long time the whole body shakes heavily in the night before sleeping. There are times when I used to have these full body shakes just before sleeping and I used to think there was an earthquake happening. I used to look for furniture or ceiling fan to check if they are moving. Other times, any muscle or vain starts to twitch. There is no time limit to how long it could go.
The first thought always is that I am making a wrong decision. Anxiety makes every decision burdensome. You are always cutting the wrong wire of the bomb. It doesn’t matter if the decision is insignificant like choosing the salad dressing or making serious life decisions. And, every single decision goes through this process. Every single decision then by default becomes the wrong one from the start.
Muscle tension is the most transpiring one. It is extremely discomforting. The whole body, or some parts of the body like back and neck, feels really stiff as if tied in a straitjacket. There is habitual tightness throughout the whole body especially in the chest. The intensity of tightness differs. It can stay for 5 seconds to a few hours. It restricts the body movement subconsciously. There are times when I am sitting in a certain position for a long time unwilling to move.
Every single action irritates and angers. It could be of a little importance in context or content. The way people speak, their behavior, any advice. It keeps on building up inside. Builds up anger within you.
One of the very first and instant symptoms is difficulty in breathing. Since brain goes into fight or flight state, heart starts beating faster and blood pumps to main organs and lungs grow bigger which makes breathing harder. You would have to try harder to catch a breath. There were times when I used to realize and many times woke up in the middle of the night because I used to stop breathing for five to ten seconds. It manifests as if being chocked or suffocating by a pillow.
One of the symptoms difficult to give an explanation to. There are so many things, places, people and random things that become a phobia. These phobias stop living a personal and social life. Phobia could be of a place where I felt anxious a lot, phobia of having an argument with someone you respect or friend, phobia of committing to a relationship, phobia of saying no, phobia of disappointing someone, phobia of trusting people, phobia of expressing and list goes on.
When first time I had a panic attack I thought I was having a heart attack. This is one of the most common things and the most frightening. Heart palpitations can and does happen anytime and it goes from 0 to 40 to 100% pretty fast. It persists for a long time and distressing. There is always this sense of heart will just burst through from the chest. And, on rare times it starts to pain as well right in the middle of the chest. It appears like the heart is just going to collapse.