Before we begin, let’s just all take a breath. A deep one.
Ok, we ready?
Anxiety sucks. For anyone that has ever experienced it knows─ it is the worst.
From panic attacks to full-blown panic disorders many people in the U.S. (and in the West in general) suffer from this. It affects their daily life, and their long-term life.
It’s so prevalent in our society that many people affected by it are shown to take more time off of work, are far less social, and are less likely to finish school. Think about how that impacts their quality of life.
Could you imagine waking up, your heart pounding for no reason as you lay in bed? Everything feels off. I mean, really off. Like at any moment, the world would explode around you and you just want to run away. But, you can’t. You are stuck in your own skin, feeling this miserably-awful gut-wrenching fear and that you are not ok.
Your skin is clammy, your fingertips like ice.
Your chest is tight and your heart just won’t stop beating like you’ve run a marathon, both ways, uphill in the snow.
It gets better. Many people that have crippling anxiety also win the genetic lottery with depression. Oh yeah, this girl right here knows.
Party at Grey’s place, wut wut
While mine stems from my childhood and early adulthood trauma (yay PTSD) many more are affected by this in some form or fashion. Women are two to three times more likely to suffer from anxiety than men. Why is this, I’ve wondered?
Well, there is some debate to this but many people believe it is due to girls and women experiencing trauma earlier in life. That, or if it is possible that it is inherently increased in women.
Oh great, thanks ancestors.
Another fun thing our brain tends to do is process serotonin release slower than our male counterparts.
While we all laugh it up and drown our sorrows in wine and other recreational drugs
Let’s be real.
Women tend to ruminate and medicate to cope while dudes get physical. Curiously enough, men also have the positive side of their brain light up when they are under pressure. Damn, I wish my brain got overloaded with serotonin and cortisol.
Ladies, we can learn from this. One of the biggest challenges I faced when going through treatment was to shut that shit down. My brain tends to do this thing where it loops all the bad things on repeat.
Oh, you don’t like that? It used to taunt.
Let’s turn this shit up to you crying in the shower for thirty minutes to end your day.
Yeah. My life was hell for the better part of fifteen years emotionally. I still get bouts of it, but I’ve learned a super secret technique I’m going to share with you:
It’s called keeping yourself busy, mentally and physically.
Get real physical guuurl. Because thinking is the devil.
No, not in an unhealthy way. Clearly if you have issues that you need to go talk to a professional about do that along with this. However, several studies have shown that as Westerners, we have way too much idle time and we also suffer from more anxiety and depression than those in other countries. I think if I had to work my fingers to the bone every day, I’d probably collapse in bed in a heap of exhaustion and not have time to focus on all my mental hang-ups.
Except─ hold on, I have.
This year, I quit my full-time job to help run a company. On top of all that, I write and stream. I started noticing something I never had happen before. My anxiety was easing because I felt like I had purpose─ which gave me drive. Something I haven’t experienced in a long time. My depression and anxiety have always centered around feeling worthless and that I didn’t feel accomplished at the end of the day.
It was something I always lacked because I had the same facts drilled in my head every day of my childhood:
you aren’t good enough, you never will be, you’re useless, you’re pathetic.
It all goes on.
So, while our hormones react differently (and different centers of our brain light up during stress and anxiety) there are a few similarities between men and women with anxiety.
The major one that a lot of people report is the feeling of impending doom (yay flight center of the brain!) shortness of breath, tight chest, and the feeling of discomfort in their own skin.
Unfortunately, having estrogen and progesterone kind of plays havoc on our brain-place. Ugh, as if women needed more added stress to their lives.
Don’t fear, ladies─ there is hope! With a healthy dose of physical activity, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and daily mindfulness and rest, you can combat the daily demons.
Numerous studies have shown that taking as little as two minutes up to twice a day of breathing exercises and mindfulness of stressors/triggers(TRIGGERED) you can lower your stress (and blood pressure) to a healthy level.
There are many others, but I’ve heard good things about these. I know they help keep me stay on track, just like having a regular daily routine and lots of sleep. (but damn, sleep is important.)
I think we can all take a little time to appreciate the importance of ourselves, and others and value what we have to offer each other. I tip my hat to the guys on this one, so far it’s worked for me and maybe it can work for you too.
But hey, just my thoughts on a Tuesday.
Take care everyone and feel free to discuss below. I’m more than happy to share my own battles and victories with anxiety and depression.