Question: How does anxiety affect your life and relationships?
Amina: Mostly, it’s the worry. I worry about everything and it affects my ability to be objective. It really affects your loved ones, because if for instance, someone tells me they are travelling, I start intensely worrying about them getting into an accident. I’m worrying, it affects my mood, my sleep, everything. And then when this person arrives safely, I don’t feel relief, I just feel ‘bleh’ and it’s difficult to navigate, to be honest.
In relationships, there’s also distrust. Not because I’m suspecting you, but just the constant need for reassurance. And it can be draining for the other person because they are doing their best, but because of these doubts in your head, there’s a problem. Also, it’s difficult to let go when people do you wrong because it becomes a major light you see that person through, you’re just always worried it’d happen again.
Sometimes you’re even scared that people will wake up and just not love you anymore. It’s taken me a lot to be able to call myself out when my thoughts are going in this direction. Though there are many times when I’m not able to catch myself in time.
Question: What coping mechanisms do you have?
Amina: First would be having a third-person conversation with myself. I try to ask myself concrete questions. For instance, if my head is telling me “this your outfit is horrible”, I’ll stop and ask myself “who said so?” And then I talk through it, so I don’t overthink. I saw this online. Ask yourself what is ‘this’ about.
When it has escalated into shaking and panicking, I take time out to do deep breathing exercises. They don’t make the worries go away but they help you become more stable.
Question: What advice would you offer anyone who thinks they may have an anxiety disorder or already have one?
Amina: I would advise that they try to go to a clinic, even if to just see a general practitioner. If you can’t afford therapy, try to research coping mechanisms, do breathing exercises, exercise if you can so your thoughts are clearer.
I really advise therapy, but do your research first because some therapists are horrible. Even if you don’t have anxiety, just go see a therapist, it’s good for everyone. Do research on what you’re feeling, and try to identify your triggers too.
Mental illnesses are a part of many people’s lives, having one doesn’t make you abnormal. Don’t be ashamed to bring up whatever symptoms you might be having with a doctor. This way, nothing stands in the way of your living life to the fullest!
**This concludes Esohe’s piece