For this blog post I would like to talk about my personal experience with anxiety. It is a common mental obstacle that many people combat on a day to day basis. Everyone gets anxious; some more than others. I am one of those people. As a manager at a fast food restaurant I deal with anxiety every day, especially when we have big rushes during my shifts or there are events in town that bring in floods of people. During the times when I am most anxious I experience sensory overload. Sensory overload is when there are too many things happening for the brain to differentiate the important information from the unimportant information making it difficult to focus and sometimes causing high levels of stress or anxiety or sometimes even panic attacks. When I have sensory overload it is usually because I am trying to multi-task, such as taking orders, bagging or making food, giving orders out and there are more tasks to be done than what I can do at once.
When I begin to have panic attacks, it is very scary for me. My chest becomes tight making it hard to breathe, my eyes can’t focus on one thing at a time often making my vision blur, and my thoughts begin to race making it hard to think or focus on the tasks that I am trying to complete. With my anxiety comes unbridled anger aimed at nothing and everything at once. Calming myself down is easy but getting to a point where I can do so is not. All it takes is for me to step away from the situation, take a deep breath, and then talk myself through each task step by step as I complete them. For some people this is how they deal with their anxiety also. However, no one is the same as anyone else. We are common creatures but not carbon copies. Each person has their own way of coping with their anxiety. But everyone that suffers from anxiety understands the day to day struggles. Even the simplest of daily tasks can become strenuous chores mentally.
Anxiety isn’t always worrying about things that are currently happening in the moment. It’s also a lot of worrying about everything that could go wrong, overthinking things to the extreme unnecessarily, thinking about totally hypothetical situations that have a very low chance of happening and obsessively fantasizing about them to the point that you convince yourself that the absolute worst case scenario for any given situation is the exact way it is going to turn out. Anxiety is thinking about rational things irrationally and logical things illogically. It’s knowing that your master’s degree is going to land you that dream job but then your brain flips a switch and tells you that you won’t have the skills that the company is looking for. It’s studying for months before the big final and being absolutely convinced that you’re going to bomb it, even though you can basically recite the textbooks front to back and backwards in your sleep. It’s having a great day until one little inconvenient moment ruins your entire perspective on the day because you think about how it could’ve gone differently for the next six hours. Anxiety is a scary, annoying, inconvenient, daily struggle that always feels next to impossible to overcome.
However, anxiety is not something that you have to deal with alone. There are groups and therapies that help you get through your day to day lives. If that’s not something that you’re interested in then pick a friend, parent, teacher, school counselor, or just a journal that you can go to when you need help feeling better or just need to get the things that make you anxious off of your chest and out of your mind. It is often the case that they can help you calm down and stop stressing out so much about whatever is bothering you.
Authored by Sensory Sanctuary Secretary Rhiannon Hogard