Stories, skills, and positivity- to anxiety sufferers from anxiety sufferers.
It was in my dorm room at Queen’s that I experienced my first panic attacks. We are talking hyperventilating; vomiting, sobbing, dizzying panic attacks. Bad winter weather, which previously just made me more cautious, was suddenly keeping me up all night in worry. I didn’t recognize myself anymore – I had never felt so uneasy or unhappy. I even spent one night repeatedly punching my arm until it was black and blue in an attempt to stay home after Christmas break. By the end of the year, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – something I would see several professionals about over the following years.
When it comes to living with someone with anxiety, there are no guidelines or rules. Every person is different. No matter how well you know the individual, every day is new and always keeps you on your toes. It is like riding a rollercoaster blindfolded, because you never know what to expect and there is no limit to the emotions you will endure. Just imagine how they feel.
Suicide. It’s this tiny seven letter word that ends the lives of those we care about the most. Most of us have been touched by suicide in some way, whether it was as close to us as the of the loss of a friend, or simply by hearing about the death of Robin Williams. This summer, I lost three friends to their battles with mental illness, they died by suicide and it’s honestly something I will never forget. But I’ve also been battling my own suicidal thoughts all summer and that’s what I want to talk about today.
I’ve been suicidal for the past five months, but I don’t have any plans to kill myself. This isn’t something that I can really talk about with anyone, because as soon as you mention suicide, people want to put you in a hospital until you stop thinking about killing yourself. I want to make it clear, I don’t have any plans to end my life, I just think about it a lot. I have no plans to swallow a bottle of pills, or hang a rope around my neck. I’m faced with suicidal thoughts almost daily, but I have no intention of going through with any of them.
It’s not that I don’t want to live anymore, because I do. I want to see the leaves on the trees change colour in the fall, and I want to eat the most delicious foods in the world, explore all the places in the world I’ve never seen. I want to fall in love and meet people who in inspire me. I want to live a long and happy life – but right now none of this seems possible. The world feels grey to me. I either feel depressed, anxious or numb (and sometimes a combination of all three). I go to my university's campus and I feel like I’m going to pass out from the rabbit race my heart is running and how fast my head is spinning. I go home and I feel numb, I don’t want to do anything or see anyone. Fleeting thoughts like, “I would be okay if I died today,” or “I don’t want to be around anymore,” stick to the back of my mind like glue. Most of the time I can push them away, but when I let myself go and stop thinking for just one moment, these thoughts come back. It’s exhausting and I need it to end, but I can’t talk about it with anyone.
Suicidal people deserve a place to talk about their suicidal feelings without risking hospitalization/institutionalization or being accused of being manipulative or attention seeking. I wish that I had someone to talk to about what was going on in my mind but counsellors are required to report any suspicion of someone being in harm’s way and friends and family worry to an extent that it makes them sick – so I keep it to myself. I’ve come up with three pretty helpful ways to ignore or distract myself from these thoughts:
I want to make something clear. While I may have no active plans to harm myself, I still try and keep an eye out in case my thoughts get worse, or I begin thinking more actively about going through with things. For example, I keep track of my mood every day. I try to write down some of the thoughts that I am having, and rate them on their severity and persistency. If I notice them increasing or getting worse, I have a plan to contact my counsellor and doctor. My roommate also knows about what I am going through, so I have someone keeping an eye out for me. If there is even just one person that you can tell, it can be helpful. Being aware of your personal safety is incredibly important.
I don’t know how things are going to get better, and I don’t know when. This scares the shit out of me. But I know that of all the years I have been alive, I have had a 100% success rate in getting through each day. So I have to believe that things will get better, they always do right?
** If you are suicidal and are in crisis, please call the crisis line in your region **
By: Danielle M
It begins with a simple thought. That’s all it takes for the panic to ensue.
Next, you get a tingling in your brain. One that you can’t explain, one that you can’t stop as it spreads like wildfire around your skull, setting it alight.
By: Tanya Elliott
Ugh. Double ugh. Triple ugh. I. Just. Can't. I look at the mounds of laundry and dusty ceiling fans and poop filled diapers and dirty dishes and grubby hands and bills and budgets and kindergarten registration papers...
By: Katie McLean
Anxious and Alive is one year old.
In the beginning, I had a few friends write blogs for the site. I thought I could probably get quite a few people to write, and I could post once in a while when someone felt compelled to share. Soon enough, I was posting a new blog every 2 weeks, one of which brought over a thousand people to the site in the first few months. Then the huge volume of writers started contacting me, and more and more stories started coming in. Some from people I knew, but for the most part strangers who were about to give me- and subsequently hundreds of peoples- a glimpse into the biggest challenges of their lives.
On December 6th, 2015, the popular website BuzzFeed posted a video entitled "Diagnosed". As a part of the website's mental health awareness campaign, this video details the narrator's experience with trying different kinds of medication to treat their anxiety, and subsequent other disorders. One line of this fantastically done video stands out to me in particular:
"The threat of unpredictability is the scariest part when something depressing happens to someone with depression."
By: Emily B
When I tell people about my experiences with mental illness and my path to wellness, I like to use the term ‘relapsing-remitting chronic illness’ to describe what my illness is like to me. With something like bipolar disorder, relapse seems sometimes like this ever looming thing out on the horizon that may or may not come to shore now or later, or ever. With some mental illnesses, some like to paint this magical picture of one cure that will work forever for everyone, which isn’t always the case.
By: Brittany Borg
The leading causes of death in the world today are fairly well known, a quick web search will turn up many of the things that we’re all quite aware of; heart disease, stroke, HIV/AIDS, and death by road injury amongst other things all top the list. I’m sure if you ask anyone what they believe that the majority of people die of in the world they will come up with at least one of these, and of course they would be correct. By definition death is “the total and permanent cessation of all the vital functions of an organism”, and I’m sure most would completely agree with the accuracy of this definition: except some people diagnosed with anxiety.
By: Erin Longo
Anxiety and depression have been a part of me for almost a decade now, and I’m only 23. There have been some really high highs and many more really low lows. And there are still times that I think ending it would be better than trying to work through my problems. But let me tell you how normal that is.
Katie McLean holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and bases her anxiety aid in personal experience, as well as techniques that have been passed on to her by counsellors, friends, and fellow anxiety sufferers.