Thursday, 17 October 2013

Panic Stations!

So now I've caught your attention with the title (and the graphic! I'd like to point out I'm not female...), am I in danger? Am I about to hit a big giant problem wall and go splat? Or maybe there's a test coming and I'm completely unprepared? Nope, nothing. But any day could turn into something that feels like that, if the right triggers happen.

For people like me with Asperger's or autism, and a lot of others with similar disorders, anxiety can be a big problem. It can appear at any time if you don't know the triggers, and just completely ruin your day. It's very inconsiderate like that. Admittedly for me it's not so bad, but give me a couple of bad days and a few unknown changes and I'll go from a fairly confident and reasonable guy to the panic stricken child, convinced the whole world is out to kick my ass.

So, what is anxiety? Well, a quick look on the NHS website would tell you it's an intense fear or worrying feeling, that can really affect your life in a negative way. But that doesn't really describe how it feels. Imagine worrying about something going wrong, like worrying your bus might be late and you're late for work. And now imagine that you're worrying about every single way it could possibly go wrong. What if the bus is late, and my boss is having a bad day so he sacks me? Or maybe it'll crash on the way in. That workmate I have is sure to spot me even being slightly late and he might report me. And I need to do some shopping later and I might not even have a job and oh God now my hands are shaking and I'm sweaty and I can't concentrate and I really need to sit down and there are so many people and I really don't want to be here I want to be at home with a nice book and a cup of tea but I have to do this first and oh my God what if I worry so much that I miss my bus because of it and oh there's my bus now so I should probably stop worrying but now I have to get on it and there are even more people I hope today goes ok.

Yeah, it feels a bit like that... That really wasn't very nice to type... Luckily I haven't had so much anxiety recently. I don't tend to get that bad for most things, I just worry too much. But sometimes, if I'm in an unfamiliar social environment or I'm trying to explain something important, I start to sweat crazily, and my tics get worse, my hands will fidget and I'll shiver with adrenaline and find it hard to concentrate. Apparently a vein pops out on my forehead too, cartoon style (thanks for telling me that one, friend who will not be named...). I can only imagine how bad it is for other people.

There are different methods for coping with anxiety. I tend to fail miserably, and end up having several days in a row that are filled with anxiety and paranoia. Sometimes though, I manage to avoid it by looking at them as an 'outsider'. I recognise the anxious or paranoid emotions and thoughts, and just let them in but don't dwell on them. There's no point in using thought to get rid of them, because then all you think about is the anxiety, which makes it worse. By just giving a quick 'hello' to anxious thoughts and then ignoring them, I can usually then just get on with my day and be my usual slightly insane self. Here and here are a couple of great ways to deal with anxiety.

I think though, one of the greatest helps with anxiety has been the support of my friends. When they see me getting upset or anxious, they try and cheer me up and calm me down. I imagine it's partly because they're all really nice people, and partly because they don't want to be around if I go nuclear! If you have a friend who you know or you suspect suffers from anxiety, and you think they're starting to worry a lot, just ask them nicely, as a friend,  if you can do anything for them. Sometimes all it takes is a friendly face to wash away the anxiety. You can also help to identify the triggers and help your friend avoid them; maybe guiding them away from crowded spaces if they have social anxiety, things like that.

That, just about wraps it up for anxiety I think. Just remember, it doesn't tend to go away in a puff of logic! Oh, and sorry for the five day gap between posts guys. I've been writing this post since Monday, but it's been very hard to do, and I've also been pretty distracted by other events going on. (Yes, that does mean anxiety's been popping up for a visit quite a bit)

See you soon with another post,

PS, High five to anyone who got the Hitchhiker's references!

PPS, Sorry for any spelling mistakes. I pride myself on grammar and spelling, but I'm typing on several different keyboards at different and I keep missing keys and not spotting the error. I think I've caught them all now.

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