Okay, so, reaching out to people to talk about mental health is beyond important as an initial step. And it’s because by talking to someone you trust or even a stranger on the internet (hi!), especially someone who is going through something similar to you normalises what you deal with. I thought I was so, so strange for so many of the things that come as a result of (largely) my anxiety and that’s why I spent so long burying it down because I didn’t realise that it was a genuine thing to be worried about and that other people understand and deal with too
And I 100% get that this isn’t something that you can just do on your own. So, to try and help you, here’s a list of some of my own experiences with this – there’s probably a load more that I just can’t remember right now and also please do add your own because wow people need to talk about the specifics of chemical imbalances more
1. Sensory Overload
So this is a big one and I genuinely think that I could talk about it forever, but I’ll try to keep it short. I hadn’t actually realised until very recently that sensory overload was a real thing.
All those times I was sent spiralling into a panic attack because everything was too loud around me? Or when I would have to literally cover my ears and start humming to try to calm myself down because I was finding some background noise too loud? Or how, year after year at my dad’s birthday party I would end the night sobbing on the ground because the fireworks were just too fucking loud?
Yep, sensory overload.
And there I was thinking that there was no real cause, that I was just being dramatic or perhaps I was just a little jumpier than most people. But no, it’s a very real thing that doesn’t get talked about enough, and I wish that I had known that it had a name and that other people were going through the same thing because I think that then I would have known how to better deal with it when all my senses were too overwhelming
And you have no idea how badly I wish I could go back to little seven year old baby frog me, so filled with anxiety (though I didn’t realise that it had a name back then- WHICH IS THE WHOLE FUCKING POINT OF THIS POST) and give her a huge hug (or maybe an awkward pat instead, I get awkward with touch) and just tell her, like, everything is okay.
And also try to reassure even-more-anxious-Freddie-just-starting-secondary-school that no it’s not just another thing that makes you weird compared to the other kids in your year (side note: the kids in your year were utter arseholes the whole time and you should genuinely be thankful that you were ‘weird’ compared to them, most of them were just bad people) it’s a real thing and you are 100% valid for feeling overwhelmed in those scenarios
But I can’t go back to tell youthful me that, but what I can do is try to assure people now who might be going through it of exactly that: sensory overload, as much as it really fucking sucks, is a thing that a lot of people deal with. You’re not strange for getting overwhelmed in situations that are too loud or by textures that you don’t like or anything like that – it’s not just you that it happens to. And so please reach out to someone who you know does understand it and don’t be afraid of asking them if they can help you figure out healthy ways of managing those times where you are feeling that overwhelmed
And if you don’t know who to ask, then I’m here. Be it on my instagram, twitter or Tumblr (where I do have anonymous asks open) if you feel like you want to talk to me about it please don’t hesitate to. I will repeat again that I’m not at all a medical professional, but I do have a solid past 19 or so years coping with my own sensory overload bullshit so I can try to help you to figure out what works for you
It sucks to feel alone going through any mental health shit, but in particular this always makes me feel so, so lonely and if I can help anyone going through it to feel even just a smidge less isolated then that’s a win in my books
2. Adrenaline Crashing After Social Situations
This is such a big one for me, but I think that a lot of my friends who I’ve spoken about it with all already knew that this was a thing and I was just being dumb about it. But I wanted to put it down anyway in case there are people who don’t realise that this is pretty normal
When you go out into a social situation or even just somewhere out of your comfort zone like leaving your house and going to a public space or I know I get it when I go into a shop, even if I use self service I still get a huge adrenaline rush just from being outside basically. For some reason, though, I didn’t connect the dots for ages that that was what it was because in my mind I thought that you could only get adrenaline rushes in what is actually a dangerous situation
I forgot that it’s my brain seeing everything as a dangerous situation that’s the issue, of course it can’t tell the difference between a bull chasing me and a Tesco’s Cashier Lady.
So I always thought that I must be weird for how I’d completely shut down and often spiral straight into a panic attack once I got home from wherever I’d been. But crashing that hard after being in a situation you and your anxiety is uncomfortable with it totally understandable
Because to your anxious brain’s mind you have just returned to somewhere safe (your home or school or friend’s house for example) from an environment that it deemed as being ‘unsafe’, hence why it activated your fight or flight. So naturally upon returning to a place that you feel comfortable in and it starts to regulate your hormone levels again it’s going to leave you drained and sometimes the comedown from that can send you spiralling into a panic attack
Again: it sucks. But it’s a normal thing, please don’t think that you’re overreacting or exaggerating or whatever because of it. A lot of people with anxiety have this happen to them
3. Post-Event Rumination
ha I know big impressive words now thanks to my counsellor
For me, this tends to come, like, pretty much immediately after the adrenaline crash from being outside or a social situation or whatever. It’s basically just when your brain won’t stop going over things that happened (which, I know, happens to everyone even without the anxiety aspect of it) and basically just analyses every little thing that you said or did to the point where you’re sure that you must have been acting in a way that was completely alien to anyone else that was present
It’s essentially just being completely and utterly self critical over everything that you did, even if you weren’t doing anything out of the ordinary
For example, if I ran into my neighbour and had a quick conversation with her, literally just exchanging no more than just “hi, how are you?”‘s, that run-in would be playing on repeat in my head for at least the next day and I’d be sure that I must have said something wrong or she knows something that I don’t or anything like that.
For me, if the adrenaline crash wasn’t enough to send me spiralling into a panic attack, post event rumination pretty much always is. But I found a weird amount of comfort in being told that, actually, it’s a thing that a lot of people deal with! A lot of people do it and I’m not strange for being one of them. So that was nice for me to hear at the time, especially to find out that it’s real enough that it had a name, and so I thought that there was someone else out there who might need to hear it too
4. Crashing/Spacing Out
This one is so, so common for me, but no matter how often it happens I always just feel so fucking rude, like, it can literally be the most interesting conversation in the entire world and I just…. won’t be able to concentrate? For the life of me?
As it turns out, though, that’s apparently completely normal for people with anxiety, especially in regards to the social side of it. It’s something that I actually did research in myself rather than trying to talk to one of my friends about it. And that’s because I didn’t know how to admit to being constantly spacing out in conversations with them (as in, more than they would notice) without it straight up just sounding really rude.
But it only took me a pretty quick Google search to tell me that it was actually not at all uncommon. A lot of the time, it just comes from being completely drained by conversations or sometimes (going back to the sensory overload thing) the environment just making it too hard for me to fully concentrate because of fucking birds or something
So yeah, next time that you catch yourself spacing out in a conversation please don’t feel bad about yourself because of it. Of course, it’s incredibly inconvienient and will probably always make you feel a little rude, but it’s got a cause and it is normal and usually it’s totally out of your control, too. Most people will understand it if it does happen so please, please don’t beat yourselves up about it
5. Romanticisation of Mental Health
I guess that this isn’t really, like, normalising something any more than it’s just me having a bit of a rant about how mental health is seen a lot of the time from the outside thanks to it being completely misrepresented in the media
I just know that the very first time that I saw a panic attack on a TV show was during one of the earliest episodes of Teen Wold (which I still haven’t finished by the way – anyone who’s reading this and has seen it, should I watch the rest?) and I remember Stiles getting kissed by Lydia as a way to bring him back from a panic attack.
I genuinely cannot stress enough how averse to that I am now, knowing what I do about how I and my friends deal with my/their panic attacks and anxiety – that is my worst nightmare!
I mean, I’m pretty averse to any touch at all during a panic attack and I’m not a very touchy person anyway in general (though I really wanna hug like most of the time, it’s a very strange situation to be in) but someone doing that to me, kissing me out of the blue, would just send me spiralling even more
And I mean, maybe that works for some people, but for me that’s the literal opposite of what I would want or would help me, but as I’ve said – everyone’s mental health is different, and if that is what helps you then that’s brilliant! I was just using this as an example of where I felt as though anxiety in general was quite romanticised for the audience and, as a result, gave me an incorrect impression of what panic attacks were like, and it reinforced the idea to me that I must be strange for my panic attacks not being the same as Stiles Stilinski’s
(I feel the need to say that I was quite young when I watched Teen Wolf for the first time and Stiles was my favourite character, but it stuck with me for years and was the first example that came to mind for me that wasn’t 13 Reasons Why, which I think I could probably rant about forever)
My aim in making this post was to try to bring some people going through these things some comfort by being able to understand that what they are going through is completely valid and that there are ways to cope with it no matter how lost and alone you feel trying to navigate it
Of course I’ve definitely missed some things and I might’ve stated the obvious on some things but I remember even just a year ago going through these things and being sure that I was the only one who experienced it and to find out that I wasn’t and being able to take advice and guidance from others was such a relief to me
So please add on your own things that you wished you knew about anxiety earlier, what you wish you had known was normal or even things that you think not enough people are aware about – comment it, send it to me on Tumblr or whatever, I just want to be able to raise awareness of these kinds of stuff
Anyway, figured I’d end the post with a photo of my dog looking sweet as fuck because she is the loveliest dog in the world (send me dog photos boys)
Thank you for reading, I hope that you’re well