All of my life I have struggled with anxiety. I have felt instant panic when asked to make a decision, I have called friends with made up excuses as to why I couldn’t go to their birthday party, and I have avoided doing what my heart really desires for fear of what could go wrong.
I know I am not alone in this. There are so many of you out there who battle with this on a daily basis just like me. I want you to know that you are also not alone.
Amongst anxiety I have been dealing with multiple other health issues. Most of these have surfaced throughout the past 5-7 years. Issues such as migraines, I have dealt with since I was about 12 but I only recently discovered that the cause was not chocolate, or perfume, but anxiety itself. Other health concerns have been Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), dizziness, nausea, constant hunger, overactive bladder, numbness and tingling as well as your typical fatigue. I became that girl who was constantly at the doctor for something new. I never felt like my doctor took me seriously or believed me, but I knew something wasn’t right. After about 3-4 years of persistence, he finally referred me to a gastroenterologist. There was actually an answer to my problem: IBS. I was relieved to know I wasn’t crazy, and there was actually something going on. Once I did more research on it though, I soon came to realize that chances were good that this issue sprung itself into existence because of my debilitating anxiety.
Whilst dealing with the new lifestyle I had to incorporate in order to get my body working in order, I noticed other abnormal feelings. I felt dizzy, shaky, and sometimes tingly or numb most mornings, usually before work. I played it off as hunger, or fatigue, or hell even just the need for coffee. This went on for months until I discussed it with my doctor. When I brought it to his attention however, nothing came out of it. I had tests done, blood taken, and nothing came back. I left it alone and tried to ignore the symptoms.
Consider this: I deal with so many types of anxiety. Health anxiety makes me constantly believe there is something wrong with me. Social anxiety makes me fear people and social situations therefore making it hard for me to speak up when something is wrong. Hence why it’s taken me so long to get all of these things dealt with. I am scared of being judged, being viewed as a hypochondriac, ACTUALLY BEING a hypochondriac…. I digress.
This story has gotten quite long, and although I do want to share it, it’s not my intention to give you my entire anxiety story in this post. I just wanted to preface what I am about to say with a bit of background to it.
After feeling all of these issues, and symptoms and genuinely believing there was something wrong with me… I started doing my own research. I discovered that yes, these things are happening to me. I am not crazy, I am not making them up. The real kicker is that it’s all anxiety induced. Seriously.
The day I found out that the reason I am always hungry, even after just eating isn’t because I am a pig, or that’s “just the way I am” as I always used to tell people… it’s because I have trained myself to find comfort in food. So whenever I feel anxious my body makes me feel hungry and therefore I eat to fill that void.
Now what I am about to tell you, is the core reason I have written this post. We can fight back. After learning that I’m not truly hungry all the time but am just feeling anxious, I have made a conscious effort to keep this in mind every time I feel hunger creeping up on me. DISCLAIMER: Of course this is only to a certain extent. DO NOT SKIP MEALS. DO NOT STARVE YOURSELF OR DEPRIVE YOURSELF OF FOOD. What would happen to me is that I would eat breakfast before work and by the time I got to work I’d be starving. I’d find myself wondering HOW?! Well, being at work makes me anxious. So now I am conscious of that fact and when I feel that hunger I talk myself down. “Sara you just ate, you are not hungry, you are just anxious. Breathe”.
Do you know what? It actually works!! I have somehow managed to conquer one tiny hump in this anxiety battle I’ve been fighting for my whole life. I never knew that was possible. I obviously still struggle, but knowing that I actually can bring my brain back to the real world even over something small, is a huge accomplishment.
Imagine what more can be done?!
If you are dealing with any of the same things, try reminding your brain that it’s just anxiety and see if that helps in even the smallest way. Although it won’t cure your anxiety, it may have a positive effect on the symptoms it causes you. I hope it helps you the same way it has helped me.
Anxiety is a bitch, and I’m going to fight her. I hope you do too!