I’ve alluded to this in a few posts, but wanted to give it a little bit more attention because it is extremely important to remember.
Anxiety manifests physically. It’s different for everyone, but I would like to share what happens to my body. It can start so small. Just a minor headache that I might take something for. As the day (or week) goes by it gets bigger. Stronger. A small rain shower that turns to a violent thunderstorm and rages on for hours. The only difference is the storm ends. My anxiety doesn’t.
The first thing I notice is the constant headache. It’s this dull throb in my temples. As my anxiety gets worse the headache moves and gets stronger. The throbbing turns to a white noise in my ears and makes my eyes cross and blur. If it gets bad enough it will turn to a migraine and knock me off my feet. I’ve had to take a few sick days because I literally couldn’t open my eyes or move.
I experience a lot of stomach aches and nausea. If I get a particularly persistent thought or image in my head (more than likely my mind has decided to relive some past mistakes) it might make my tummy roil and it almost feels like I’m going to throw up. My stomach turns to a knotted mess and gets tighter and tighter the deeper I fall into my anxiety. This is almost always accompanied by nausea. Smells, tastes, whatever will make me nauseous. My sense of smell is weirdly heightened when I’m anxious.
The worst thing is the dry heaving. I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve woken up and ran to the bathroom. How many times I’ve had to stay home from school or work because I was desperately clinging to the bowl heaving. I’ve also had to make quick escapes to bathrooms while in class and at work. The most difficult thing about it is that I don’t actually throw up. It’s just this constant, painful dry heaving that could last all day or several days. I would rather throw up and get it over with than dry heave for hours.
I have these “episodes”. I thought for a while that they were due to some illness I had or something was legit wrong with me and a doctor could figure out what. However, I am now almost certain it’s just my anxiety finding new ways to fuck with me. These episodes consist of dizziness, lightheadedness, and tremors in my hands. The tremors are mainly in my right arm, but I can feel them slightly in my left as well, just not as bad. When I’m having one of these bouts I literally cannot hold anything in my right hand. I can’t really do anything but lay down and wait it out.
I’ve had people tell me that I need to go to a doctor and get on medication to “fix” my mental illnesses. The thing is you can’t “fix” this. You can manage the symptoms, to a point. But there is no cure. There isn’t a magic pill or shot that can just make it all go away. Personally, I will find ways to cope with my physical symptoms rather than ingest some nasty synthetic material and risk all kinds of really fun side effects. I drug my body enough with the deliciously processed foods I devour every day.
I don’t have these episodes often and I have ways of coping. The other physical representations of my anxiety are easily managed too. Is it strange that I’m glad I don’t have some strange disease that can be cured? Maybe, but I am kind of relieved that all those tests I’ve done came back normal. It’s just me and my anxiety. And my depression. ANNNND the panic attacks. ANNNNNNNNNNND the food issues.