There’s still stigma attached to mental illness. I feel there’s only one way to combat that stigma – education.
As someone with anxiety, I feel the more I know about it, the more power I have over it. Anxiety is irrational and will be with me my entire life. It’s a friend who doesn’t know when they’ve overstayed their welcome.
Below are ways anxiety has manifested in my life.
Disclaimer – I am not a doctor or medical professional. Do not use this post as a diagnosis but rather to open a dialogue between yourself, your family, and your doctor if you feel you are struggling with mental illness.
Stereotypical symptoms (the true ones) –
- Panic attacks
- Shortness of breath
- Irrational thoughts
The not as talked about symptoms –
- Feeling awkward (especially socially)
- Wanting to be alone
- Canceling plans
- Difficulty taking a deep breath
- Weight on chest
- Snapping at others
- Over/under eating
- Feeling rushed or out of control
- Heart palpitations
- Eye twitching
- Hands shaking
- Flare up (if you have skin problems like psoriasis)
- Leg shaking/foot tapping
- Stumbling over words
- Repeating myself
- Clenching teeth
- Heart racing
- Difficulty focusing
- Difficulty making eye contact
- Finger or pencil tapping
- Difficulty standing or staying still
- Difficulty falling asleep and waking up
- Pushing people away
And more. I’ve had all of these symptoms at times. But what they don’t tell you about anxiety?
If you are able to “control” or understand your anxiety, it can be a strength (at times).
Now that I have gone through therapy and medicine and research and soul searching and… you get the picture… I’m able to use my anxiety to reflect and plan.
I ask myself these questions:
- What is causing me to feel that way?
- Is that a valid thought or not?
- If it’s a valid thought, what can I do about it?
- If it’s not a valid thought, then what is the truth?
I’ll give you an example.
Earlier today, I was feeling a little antsy, irritable, forgetful, and had a difficult time taking a deep breath.
What was causing me to feel this way? Well, spring break is quickly coming to a close and I still have to finish grading, planning, copying, teacher of the year (t.o.y.) paperwork, new t.o.y video, prepare for the t.o.y interview, and housework. I also realized that I’m almost broke until tomorrow.
Is it valid? Absolutely.
What can I do about it? I spent three hours in my classroom today and finished 2/3 of the grading, all of the planning, and a chunk of the t.o.y paperwork. I have a plan to finish the rest tomorrow except the copies since I have planning first on Monday. As for the no money situation, it’s a valid feeling but I had to remind myself that I already paid my bills, bought groceries, and get paid tomorrow with no need of buying anything today.
This thought process made me feel more in control, validated, and even successful because it enabled me to make a reasonable plan and diminish some of my current stressors.
Knowledge is power. The more we learn about mental illness, hopefully, the more normal it will be to have and talk about.
Teaching In Public