Anxiety. Depression. Bi-polar. All of these are terms that are thrown around with casual meaning these days. We used them to describe the butterflies in our tummy, the feeling of sadness that overcomes us when we watch a sad film or our sudden mood swings (usually hormone related.) These words may have lost their meaning but that doesn’t mean that the feelings that they describe are any less real.
Like a demon in the dark, a monster under the bed, a looming shadow… anxiety is something many teens around the world suffer with. It’s not a nice feeling, to say the least – it’s a sickening, overpowering and crippling feeling that chills you to your very core as soon as it’s icy tendrils reach forward and brush your skin. They send shocks of adrenaline bursting through your system, shocks of panic.
Your stomach turns over and over, sending waves of nausea throughout your shuddering body, you can’t breathe… you’re trapped, there’s no escape, you can’t cope with it… you feel light headed, a cold sweat has broken out all over your body, your hands and feet are alive, or rather dead, with numbing tingles that restrict your movement. You can’t do this. Tears stream down your face as the panic attack claims you. As the monster you fear so greatly claims you, steals you away from reality for an unknown period of time.
Panic attacks are an impossibly hard thing to deal with – trust me, I know. It seems like there’s no way out, like you’re trapped in the hollows of your own mind. There is a way out, it’s hard to find, but it is there.
Remember to breathe…a stupid thing to say I suppose, but when you’re hyperventilating and running out of oxygen it’s pretty hard to remember such a basic thing as breathing. Try the 7-11 method, in for the count of 7, out for 11. The counting will give you something to focus on and regulating your breathing will help to reduce the nausea and light headed feeling you get due to lack of oxygen.
A panic attack is when your body goes into fight or flight mode it prepares itself for running away or fighting off the danger. Your tummy hurts because your stomach is shutting down to save energy and your hands tingle because your body wants to conserve the blood going to the vital organs which basically, enables them to work harder in order to keep you safe.
There’s not much you can do besides attempting to calm yourself down, when I feel my anxiety rising up, I put my headphones in, listen to the sound of rain on the window, shut my eyes and focus on breathing. “I am not trapped, I am free to go where I please, I am not trapped – all of my anxieties are just planes above me, flying over head, away from here. A long way from here and away from me.” – this is something I like to tell myself in order to calm myself down, it also helps if I visualize myself in my happy place, it makes me feel safe and calms me down considerably.
Try to avoid caffeine, that seems to increase my anxiety, drink caffeine free drinks -that way you can still enjoy your favourite things without the risk of the monsters coming out to play. I like to go on walks every now and then, when I’m feeling stressed or anxious, a walk outside helps to clear my mind and the exercise helps to release endorphin which is known to increase levels of happiness in your brain! Happy Hormones 🙂 Also, drink lots of water (low fat and sugar flavoured water is fine too,) this will make you feel better and the healthier you are, the less likely you are to have a panic or anxiety attack.
Finding coping methods is hard, and it’s about what works for you. I can only give you advice and tell you this; it will get better, it always does, despite how crippling your sadness is, how controlling your anxieties are you can beat it. You can, and you will beat it. You’ll cry, time and time again- lord knows I did, I do. And there are bound to be times when you want to give up – I’ve been there, and I’ll g thee again. You’ve just got to pull yourself up, throw on the brightest smile you can muster and keep on fighting. We’re all soldiers here, fighting our own personal battles against our very own demons.