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What does it feel like to have anxiety? watch

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    I've been anxious before certain things but not that bad, it's never stopped me from doing anything. Mainly just before exams, feeling like I'm gonna vomit or feel faint. Or before a big event I'll feel nervous and can't relax. But again I think that kind of stuff is quite normal.
    So I'm assuming anxiety must feel awful?
    Loads of my close friends suffer with anxiety and have been on medication or been to counselling. I never really know what to say because I can't properly relate. I should probably ask them but I don't want to seem insensitive or patronising.
    So can someone explain to me what it feels like, like how it differs to normal nervousness and anxiety before something. And if you've been on medication what exactly has it done? Or if it's stopped you from going out somewhere. A few of my friends have bailed last minute on things because of anxiety so wondering how bad it gets?
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    I have anxiety and am on meds for it, but I know that different people experience anxiety differently. It might be slightly different for me as I have anxiety because of another condition I have (BPD). For me it's similar to the way you describe feeling before exams/big events, but instead it's like that because of seemingly trivial things (like seeing a friend, going to school in the morning, or going to the shops), or for absolutely no reason (like if I'm sitting at home watching TV). When it gets really bad it feels like I've been paralysed, like I physically can't do anything, or like I'm dying. When I have panic attacks it's like my brain and my body have both gone into overdrive and I can't breathe and sort of like the world is ending. Also I tend to overthink things and magnify everything to the point where it feels like the world is ending. Essentially anxiety differs to normal nervousness because it's nervousness times 10000000 and it interferes with everyday life. You get nervous ALL the time and a lot MORE rather than only when it is helpful/normal (before big events, exams, when you're in a stressful situation). If you want to get sciencey, in simple terms anxiety is when your sympathetic nervous system is overactive and so your 'fight or flight' response is activated too much in situations where it doesn't need to be activated. That's why a lot of the things to do with anxiety are physiological, like feeling out of breath and like you're about to vomit/faint etc. For me, my meds kind of dampen that feeling and essentially calm me so that I'm able to function. I still get anxious, but a lot less, and am able to still rationalise with the panicking/anxious side of me. Hope this helps.
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    Anxiety is hell.
    Non-Anxiety Disorder: Going to a party for a lot of people is fun. You enjoy getting ready, snapchat your friends and are excited to see them.
    Anxiety Disorder: You’re thinking, this can’t be too bad, you’ll be fine, you know the people there. Less than 20 mins later you’re curled up in your wardrobe having an anxiety attack about being scared people will look at you or talk to you or behind your back. It’s your stomach getting so twisted up you spend half the night throwing up and crying. It’s a twisting, cruel sense of security ripped apart by a seemingly insignificant thing. I once had a full blown panic attack after being asked where something was. I was so twisted up inside and so out of it that I flipped and ended up screaming in psychological pain when I was younger. I’m 18 and a lot better at managing it now but it’s still hard for me. Bailing on things may feel like the easy and briefly relieving option, but the more we do it, the less likely we are to be able to commit to things in the future.
    Anxiety is a monster which can (but doesn’t have to) control your life. It’s terrifying for me, a lot of the time.
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    I hope this helps you understand. It’s a deep subject and painful for a lot of sufferers to talk about. After CBT, I feel able to open up about my difficulties to most people and I’m not ashamed.
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    Also, Lorazepam is a medication which is designed to immediately alleviate anxious feelings, but is unfortunately misused. It’s addictive so prescribed in small quantities but highly effective. I’ve used it when traveling through airports and on holiday and it’s very good
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    You are right, we all experience anxiety sometimes no matter how 'chill' we are and that 'normal' level of anxiety is actually a good thing even though it doesn't feel like it at the time.


    When you have an anxiety disorder however, what you feel goes beyond what 'normal' anxiety feels like. Saying that it feels ten times worse than regular anxiety would be an understatement. You genuinely believe you are going to die when it strikes whereas with regular anxiety - you feel uncomfortable but know it will all be fine soon. Anxiety disorders can change your way of thinking - you can develop obsessions, irrational thinking, intrusive thoughts, negative impression of yourself etc. Extreme anxiety can affect every part of your life from not being able to go out or being limited to where you feel comfortable going to - eg only going somewhere that is an open space and easy to escape from if you get anxious, either sleep too much/too little, develop all sorts of physical conditions or worsen pre existing conditions. When you have am anxiety disorder, your body very rarely rests and we all know how bad stress can be for us, mentally and physically.

    I've been in and out of therapy since I was a child for various anxiety disorders and even at 25, I'm still not cured of them but I've came a long way. I get good days and bad days. I feel utterly consumed when my anxiety is at its worst. It literally takes over my day and life. I spend hours dealing with obsessions and compulsions in order to try and feel safe but giving into the obsessions and compulsions only fuels the anxiety but to the sufferer, it's too hard not to give in. It feels like life or death. I was also housebound for six months a few years ago due to panic disorder and agoraphobia. I literally couldn't even make it out to my bins. I had to take baby steps out my front door and it took months to get to town, let alone where I am now which is barely ever in the house. Panic attacks are horrid and I wouldn't wish them on my worst enemy.

    As for meds, I didn't want to go down that road. Nothing against them, I just wanted to try different options like therapy, activies, self help etc.

    Physical symptoms of anxiety for me vary between attack - sometimes I might get chest pain and feel dizzy and my vision goes weird and then with the next attack, nausea, over heating and my heart pounding might be my biggest symptoms. The mental symptoms are the worst for me. I feel so disconnected to everyone around me which only makes me panic more because I feel even more alone and that there's no one there to save me even though they are standing right in front of me. I'll never forget the first time I felt that true utter panic and dread feeling, I had never felt anything like it and I could have bet a million pounds that I was dying when I felt it but nope, it was panic.
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    (Original post by Rum Ham)
    You are right, we all experience anxiety sometimes no matter how 'chill' we are and that 'normal' level of anxiety is actually a good thing even though it doesn't feel like it at the time.


    When you have an anxiety disorder however, what you feel goes beyond what 'normal' anxiety feels like. Saying that it feels ten times worse than regular anxiety would be an understatement. You genuinely believe you are going to die when it strikes whereas with regular anxiety - you feel uncomfortable but know it will all be fine soon. Anxiety disorders can change your way of thinking - you can develop obsessions, irrational thinking, intrusive thoughts, negative impression of yourself etc. Extreme anxiety can affect every part of your life from not being able to go out or being limited to where you feel comfortable going to - eg only going somewhere that is an open space and easy to escape from if you get anxious, either sleep too much/too little, develop all sorts of physical conditions or worsen pre existing conditions. When you have am anxiety disorder, your body very rarely rests and we all know how bad stress can be for us, mentally and physically.

    I've been in and out of therapy since I was a child for various anxiety disorders and even at 25, I'm still not cured of them but I've came a long way. I get good days and bad days. I feel utterly consumed when my anxiety is at its worst. It literally takes over my day and life. I spend hours dealing with obsessions and compulsions in order to try and feel safe but giving into the obsessions and compulsions only fuels the anxiety but to the sufferer, it's too hard not to give in. It feels like life or death. I was also housebound for six months a few years ago due to panic disorder and agoraphobia. I literally couldn't even make it out to my bins. I had to take baby steps out my front door and it took months to get to town, let alone where I am now which is barely ever in the house. Panic attacks are horrid and I wouldn't wish them on my worst enemy.

    As for meds, I didn't want to go down that road. Nothing against them, I just wanted to try different options like therapy, activies, self help etc.

    Physical symptoms of anxiety for me vary between attack - sometimes I might get chest pain and feel dizzy and my vision goes weird and then with the next attack, nausea, over heating and my heart pounding might be my biggest symptoms. The mental symptoms are the worst for me. I feel so disconnected to everyone around me which only makes me panic more because I feel even more alone and that there's no one there to save me even though they are standing right in front of me. I'll never forget the first time I felt that true utter panic and dread feeling from panic, I had never felt anything like it and I could have bet a million pounds that I was dying when I felt it but nope, it was panic.
    Right there in solidarity with you
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    I don't think the condition 'anxiety' should be called the same thing as the anxiety people get in general before exams and the dentist etc because it confuses people and for me its a different feeling. It shares characteristics with pre exam anxiety (lets call it typical anxiety) in that you feel scared and unsettled but it is often less acute in that heart rate might not shoot up and palms might not get sweaty, though panic attacks can be common with it and can feel 20 times worse than pre exam nerves. Instead of the nervous feeling before exams its a nagging prolonged feeling that can occur for hours or days and you can't put a finger on what is causing it, its just there.

    The best way I can describe the actual feeling is that you don't feel 'neutral' in mood as you normal would when satisfied. Instead theres a constant dull unsettled feeling deep inside you which for me is a lot different from the feeling I get with typical anxiety before an exam. Its as though it comes from the body rather than my brain. However the deep unsettled feeling lowers the threshold and makes it more likely to feel symptoms of anxiety or panic with little things i.e. a little pressure at work than you would when feeling in a more satisfied mood. On the contrary being at home is like a safe haven and although I still feel the unsettled feeling it will be simmered down due to me being in a comfortable environment where I have control. On the days that I get anxiety I have to constantly reassure myself that Im fine and tell myself that its only a feeling which will eventually pass, in order to prevent an increase in anxiety. When it occurs I can't make the feeling go away fully. If my body wants to feel anxious it will feel anxious and I just have to wait it out for a few hours until I feel more settled or normal, 'neutral'.

    This is just my experience though. Although Ive not been officially diagnosed a counsellor told me that it was anxiety. Sometimes I wondered if it was depression as the feeling would occur every morning for a while, like a dull unsettled feeling that wouldn't go away. I wanted to get up and do things though, my motivation was there, its just this dull feeling I had made me scared to. Ive had it on and off for years, Ive not turned up to lessons and have quit colleges because of it. For a while I couldn't sit in a classroom without getting anxious and it escalating into panic and I often would avoid going in at all. I had blood tests to rule out things like thyroid problems everything was normal. I completed a nursing degree in mental health so Im aware of ways to simmer the anxiety down when it does occur and Ive learned how to manage the feeling more. However these techniques i.e. positive thoughts don't get rid of the anxiety, as it feels as though it starts in my body, if that makes sense. Im just prone to experiencing it. Luckily Ive not had it that much for years now and only get it on occasional days. Everyone who has the condition anxiety may not get the same experience or feelings as me though. These are just my experiences with it.
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    It's the sort of thing that will vary a lot from person to person, but the base feeling of anxiety is that worried, nervous feeling you get before doing a big thing or if something shocking just happened.
    For some people with anxiety (the condition) it will be like a dull version of that kinda all the time, for some it will be rather small things making them feel like they're about to be thrown off a cliff. That could mean you feel sick and uneasy a lot of the time, could mean you sometimes can't leave the house because you're panicking so much with the idea of it that you can't breathe properly. Can be anywhere in between our around that. Sometimes you'll have it with you all the time and sometimes it will be that a certain thing triggers it.
    The main thing with it is it's anxiety responses that shouldn't be happening. It's a response that would be normal with the right trigger, but for somebody with an anxiety condition those triggers will be all messed up.

    It looks like people are describing what their experiences have felt or feel like and you'll probably find that they vary quite a bit. I think one issue a lot of people with anxiety probably also have to deal with though isn't just the anxious feeling itself (physical and emotional), but also the idea that it's their fault or that they are broken because of it. Mental Health issues have a nasty way of turning you against yourself cos it's messing with your own thoughts and feelings. When the problem is in your brain it can kinda feel like that problem is you.
    It can also be really draining physically and emotionally because of all the worrying.

    Hope that makes sense. Could be a good idea to ask your friends of they want to talk about it a bit. They might like knowing you care enough to ask and it could help you understand and support them better. Just ask gently and they can always say they don't want to. No harm in trying.
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