The side of Mental Illness people don’t see
Anxiety is so much more than just feeling Anxious, Depression is more than just experiencing a low mood. Most people only see what they want to see, they don’t see the harsh ugly truth of what it’s like to have a Mental Illness and they rarely ask.
They can’t see all the symptoms that come with having a Mental Health Condition. All they see is what’s on the surface, the things that you allow to show. The others may stay hidden because you fear being judged and you don’t want to burden other people.
They don’t get to see the inner turmoil you go through just to face a trigger for your Anxiety and they certainly don’t see the strength it can take to get out of bed or to find the motivation to partake in day to day activities.
Below I have listed some of the symptoms and battles some people face each day to get through. It’s not a complete list as everyone’s experience of Anxiety or Depression can be different.
The Feeling of Dread
When my Anxiety is high I find I wake up most morning with a strong feeling of dread. At times it feels like something bad will happen, and getting up can be a struggle.
I don’t always know what the cause of it is, as I can experience it on a calm day as much as I can a busy one.
At the moment I know change is about to happen, getting back to having to do the school run and facing people I don’t feel comfortable with. Although I know it will be good for the both of us, I can’t shake the feeling of dread and fear.
It’s not just caused by lack of sleep, although lack of sleep or sleeping to much plays it’s part. It’s the type of exhaustion you get from trying to get through the day while experiencing all the symptoms your Mental Health Condition brings. This type of exhaustion comes from being on guard and on edge all day, trying to be on the look out for the dangers/triggers for your Mental Health Condition. With this type of exhaustion, it doesn’t seem to matter how much sleep you are able to have, it doesn’t replenish your energy levels.
If you have an Anxiety condition you may find being around people physically and emotionally draining. You may manage to keep on top of it at the time, but you know at some point it will hit you like a ton of bricks.
If you have Depression just doing everyday tasks and trying to keep to routine is exhausting. Some days it’s to hard to get out of bed.
For me personally, I feel exhausted and have no energy alot of the time. If I have had a busy day facing lots of triggers for my Anxiety, I will need a few days at home to recover.
Lack of Motivation and Loss of enjoyment
I have read so much information about what we should be doing to help support our Mental Health, but what it doesn’t tell you is how you find the motivation to actually do it. When you are feeling low the last thing you want to do is exercise, when you are Anxious attending the gym or a class is difficult when you are already feeling the effects of anxiety symptoms on your body.
Motivation can be hard to come by when you are experiencing Low mood; although I have many hobbies I find I lose the motivation and enthusiasm to do them and no longer get the same enjoyment from them that I once did.
Crafting and making cards is one of the Hobbies I once enjoyed, at present I am finding it difficult to do, my mind goes blank and I am unable to come up with good ideas for a project to make. If I make a mistake or it doesn’t turn out quite the way I want it too I give up.
Nausea and Dizziness
Where you are anxious about doing an activity or attending an event, your stomach churns and you feel sick.
Some times you may feel sick or Dizzy every time you leave the house and the only way to relieve this symptom is being back at home, even then it may take a while to calm down.
I used to try and avoid the triggers for this symptom, I was so worried about throwing up or fainting in front of people. I now realise that I am never actually sick, and I believe its impossible to actually faint when your heart rate is so high, so I try to ignore the nausea and Dizziness and just get on with it.
Upset stomach and stomach cramps
I don’t know about you, but this is a symptom I experience a lot. Whenever I am feeling Anxious about an event or meeting people I don’t know very well.
It can make leaving home quite difficult, as I need to know where all the toilets are because my stomach churning so much that it causes Diarrhea and stomach cramps.
Frequent urge to urinate
Another one where you need to know where all the toilets are, so much so you have to plan in advance where you are going and what you are going to do.
For some people when they are nervous/anxious they frequently feel the need to urinate.
A couple of years ago I had to do a speaking exam to gain my English qualification, due to being nervous while waiting to go in, i had to nip to the loo several times before the exam.
Pins and Needles
Anxiety Conditions come with the symptom of pins and needles for some people. It can occur anywhere in your body, including your head and chest. Can you imagine what it’s like to have pins and needles long term rather than the few minutes you get it from, shall we say, sitting on your foot.
I also find I experience a weakness in my arms and legs when I have pins and needles in my limbs, which can make doing tasks or walking difficult.
It’s not a nice feeling having your heart race for long periods of time or to experience palpitations. Having Anxiety and panic attacks can cause this to happen, the trigger can be something as simple as talking on the phone or going to an appointment.
It’s a vicious cycle, because you then start to worry about your heart racing or the palpitations which causes the symptoms to increase further.
Some Mental Health Conditions have tension as a symptom. Being anxious can cause you to tense your muscles, it’s your bodies way of preparing you for fight or flight or from being on alert and anxious, but when there is nothing to run from the tension stays. It hurts!
Tension often sets itself in your head, neck, shoulders and chest.
I have this bad habit of clenching my teeth when I am anxious, which is tension related, it can cause pain in my teeth, jaw and neck. I have to notice that I am doing it to release the tension in my muscles.
I also clench and grind my teeth when I sleep, which I have less control over. Over the years I have done a lot of damage to my teeth and have to wear a guard when I sleep.
Chest pain from the racing heart, pain from the upset stomach, pain from tense muscles, pain with no logical cause. Can you imagine what it is like being in constant pain, how exhausting that can be.
I often experience pain in my Arms, shoulders and legs. Also I remember as a child I would get sharp stabbing pains in my sides, in the end I the doctor told me that it was my emotions showing themselves as physical pain as they were unable to find a physical cause. I didn’t believe that at the time, now I do, I stil experience the pain when I am highly stressed and struggling with my Anxiety.
For some people it can mean waking up with Jaw pain and toothache, from where the clench their teeth while the sleep. It can result in weak or Broken teeth and It can cause gum recession and tooth loss.
Some people experience a metallic taste in their mouth, no amount of brushing or mouth wash takes it away.
A cold and tingly rushing sensation from head to toe, which can often happen when experiencing high anxiety.
Another symptom that can be associated with Anxiety.
It’s similar to the falling sensation that can suddenly jolt you awake from sleep. As an Anxiety symptom, it may happen when you are awake, it can be continuous or it can happen every now and then throughout the day.
I first experienced this symptom when I was on my English course, I was in an anxiety triggering situation each day so my Anxiety was ver high. At the time I was worried about it as not only was it inconvenient, I didn’t realise that it was a symptom of anxiety. I thought there was something wrong.
Trembling or shaking of the body can be down to a Mental Health Condition. It can be uncomfortable and irritating but it isn’t a cause for concern.
For some, the fact that it can be visable to others can be an embarrassment, causing them to avoid social settings.
Loss of appetite or over eating
Whether you have an Anxiety Disorder or Depression, they can both cause you to lose your appetite or cause you to over eat. Food can be a comfort to some people, plus it can be the one thing that you are able to control when everything else is out of your hands.
When you have a Mental Health Condition, you quite often have low self-esteem and have negative thoughts, although this is not ways the case.
You may feel that you aren’t good enough for others or that you are a burden to them. You may focus on all the mistakes that you have made throughout your life.
You may not trust in your own abilities to cope with any difficulties or events that you face.
Excessive Worrying and Over Analysing
Worrying and Over Analysing are common with Mental Health Conditions. They run through your mind in an endless cycle, often tripping you up. The worry can be about any subject. You may over analyse a situation that you are in or it could be about a conversation you have had, it can even be something from the past, an expression on some ones face or a passing comment. It’s constant and never ends.
Can you imagine what it is like to live with all of the above or even just some of it on a day to day bases. Is it any wonder people with a Mental Health Condition feel exhausted and hide away.
If it is you that is going through this and more, just trying to get through day to day, please be kind to yourself and give yourself time. You are fighting a battle that no-one else sees and you are doing the best that you can.