Having Anxiety is more than having a few butterflies before an exam. Yes, everyone does get anxious. It's a sign that you are doing something challenging and it is important that you succeed. Not everyone has anxiety. There is a big difference.
Imagine you're walking through a wood on a sunny day with not a care in the world. The birds are singing and the sun is warming your whole body. Suddenly a bear wanders onto the path in front of you. He doesn't look best pleased to see you and stands up on his back legs, bringing himself up to his full 7ft tall and blocks out the sun... Stop right there.
How do you feel? A bit tense? Raised heart rate? Funny taste in your mouth? Mental block? Holding your breath?
That right there is anxiety.
To most people these things would only happen when presented with a dangerous situation. It is called the fight or flight response. (In wild animals it determines whether the animal with stand and fight its corner or try to outrun its opponent.) This response triggers the release of adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. These chemicals cause the heart and respiratory rate to increase, pupils dilate, blood is moved away from the digestive tract and focused on muscles to fight or run, all the senses sharpen and the response to pain lessens.
When a person is in this state everything can be perceived as a threat and they become very reactive and less able to think rationally. They are essentially driven by fear and focused on the present moment or situation.
Back to the wood.... Luckily there is a pheasant shoot on that day. The beaters are all down the hill ready to shout and the guns come round the corner behind you. Seeing that you are in the middle of a stand off with a 7ft bear they fire a rally of warning shots and the bear ambles off grumpily..... Saved!
Now how do you feel? A flood of relief? Weak? Breathless? Headache? Aching muscles? Cold? Shivery? Emotional? Exhausted in every way? That's what its like when the anxiety wears off. Now imagine going through that every time you would normally feel a bit nervous about something. That could be several times a day. How long would it take before you were totally exhausted and not wanting to do anything other that curl up in a ball under the duvet??
That's how it is for me. There are things that make it worse, with lack of sleep and hormonal changes being the main culprits. If I'm feeling low the things that make me anxious are talking to people I don't know, answering the phone or the front door, leaving the house or if too many things happen at once. I sometimes have the situation where both boys are crying for different reasons and I'm trying to make a bottle for one and get some lunch for the other. I just start to panic when I get too stressed out, they can sense the tension and cry harder so it becomes a vicious circle if I'm not careful.
Management is the best way I have found to cope with my anxiety. I try to get a certain amount of sleep and eating regularly (even if it's only a slice of toast, a sandwich or piece of fruit) helps to keep my energy levels up. As I am so worn out I don't tend to put myself in situations where I know I will feel anxious. At the moment I don't have the energy reserves to cope with an anxiety attack so it's just better off avoiding them. Generally I try not to let it beat me or I would never leave the house!! I think that's where having the boys (and the dog) helps as its really not good for them to be cooped up in here day after day.