What You Need to Know About a Person Suffering from Anxiety

Story by Shelbey Pena
Photo Courtesy of Flickr

It’s the tapping of a pencil. The overlapping voices. The never-ending thoughts. It’s the unwelcome noise, the irrational fear, the overwhelming feeling that just won’t go away, which causes anxiety.

The worse thing about anxiety? Hearing you should “let it go”’ or “don’t worry about it.”

Advice? Don’t tell someone their problems are not problems.

The Onset of Anxiety
It comes in waves. You might be in a room of people not listening to any of them because all of their conversations are overlapping, and all you want to do is scream. What do you do? You go to a different room and sit, alone. What happens when you are alone? You think.

You might feel the stress of a test, the pressures of a class project, and suddenly the worries build up till you’re convinced you can’t breathe.

Anxiety is like a game of dominoes – all it takes is the simple tap of a finger to feel as if your world is crashing down.

It is a never-ending task trying to explain to someone else what exactly is wrong with you. Sometimes, it really can be nothing. Then again, sometimes nothing is everything.

Anxiety is a Burden
I have struggled with anxiety for years. Anxiety can sometimes stem from depression, but it is often hard for people to grasp the idea that someone can suffer from depression without being able to pinpoint why.

Because of this, having anxiety has been a barrier for me in many cases.

There is no way to say it other than this: anxiety sucks. It sucks feeling as if you have to hide in your bedroom when the family is visiting because you cannot handle the overlapping noise. It sucks sitting in a lecture hall on the verge of a breakdown, but not being able to excuse yourself because you need the notes the professor is projecting.

It sucks pushing people away for no reason and then losing them. It sucks putting up this persona that you do not care what other people think of you, when in reality, your biggest concern is being good enough.

There is no sugar-coating it. Anxiety is a burden that I and many other people face daily. All we can do is inform others about it and not be ashamed of it.

Helping Someone During an Anxiety Attack
Do not tell someone to let it go when their mind is playing tricks with them. The most beneficial thing to for someone suffering from an anxiety or panic attack is to bring them back to reality. Sometimes when you are having an anxiety attack, you lose your sense of it.

Ask someone in this condition to address the five senses. Have them point out something they can touch, see, hear, smell and give them something to drink, like tea, to address their taste. It seems irrational, but sometimes it is simple things like this that can change everything.

What Does Anxiety Look Like?
Picturing someone having an anxiety attack might look like a person rocking back and forth hyperventilating. Although that happens, that is not always what occurs. Multiple behavioral acts can stem from an anxiety attack.

  • Irritability
    A common thing for me when having an anxiety attack is I become very irritable and unreasonable.
  • Detail Delusions
    For me, my obsessive-compulsive disorder kicks in, especially when little details of something change.
  • Elevated Heart Rate
    Heart rate can also increase, making a person talk fast and stumble on their words, or sometimes they do not talk at all.
  • Spacing Out
    It is common to sit and stare into space zoning out to drain themselves until they are not thinking about anything at all.

These are only a few forms that may be a red flag of an anxiety attack. Understanding these, though, can benefit others who need help, and it can also help if you’re ever in a position to step in.

You Can Overcome It
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a very cheerful, upbeat, optimistic person. How can someone, such as myself, go from being full of life to feeling empty? That’s the stressful part – never knowing why.

The best way to ignore your anxiety is just that, ignore it. Do not avoid social situations even though your mind is telling you to remain reclusive. Become comfortable in situations that would normally make you uncomfortable. Prove people wrong. So, you were an average student in high school. So, you sometimes felt doubt from your peers because they were smarter than you. It’s okay!

Don’t let anxiety hold you back – follow your dreams and do what makes you happy. Most importantly, understand that anxiety is real, but so is the ability to overcome it. You may not be able to get rid of it completely, but you can win the small battles.