22/03/2017 03:56 SAST | Updated 22/03/2017 03:56 SAST

What Having Anxiety Taught Me

You feel nervous for no apparent reason most of the time, or as if something is chasing you and you’ve just got to find a safe place to retreat too.

Adnan Abidi / Reuters
A boy and his mother stand next to their gutted hut after a fire in a slum area in New Delhi April 8, 2010.

There are many different types of anxiety disorders out there that it's a very good chance you could have one too. It's really not uncommon for people to suffer from any form of anxiety considering that it affects around 40 million people in the US according to ADAA statistics. This number is gradually growing due to certain factors that contribute to anxiety and as we all know, life can be quite chaotic at times.

When a close friend of mines asked me what anxiety feels like I had no idea where to start because it's a whole bunch of things. You feel nervous for no apparent reason most of the time, or as if something is chasing you and you've just got to find a safe place to retreat to. In other words, it makes you feel as if you have no control over yourself.

I remember waking up one morning with symptoms that I've never experienced before, this was my first panic attack. My palms were sweaty, lower back ached, and I developed some numbness in my left arm, leading me to think that if someone stabbed me I probably wouldn't feel a thing. And not to mention the severe chest pains which made me think I was going to have a heart attack at the age of 19.

This all happened a few years ago and I've still been getting these attacks on and off but not too severe, the worst part is that it happens for no reason, literally. You could be having supper, enjoying some time with family or heading out to the bar to meet some friends only to be hit by some chronic pain that's almost paralyzing

Anxiety has taught me a lot along the years and I rather look at the positive side of things than dwell on the negative.

What Having Anxiety Taught Me

  1. Breathing properly is key

There are various techniques that you can use, breathing properly or taking those deep breaths are so important especially to those that suffer with anxiety because it calms you down and helps you feel more relaxed.

  1. You are never alone The first thing that anyone would do and I did, would be to research and find out how many others out there also suffer with any form of anxiety and It turns out that I am not alone in this war.

  1. It's okay to talk about it or ask for help

At first I did not want to talk about it due to the fact that I wouldn't know how others would perceive me as a person but I took the leap and I couldn't be more happier, I had enough support on my side and people wanted to know more about anxiety and I felt as if I was teaching them something.

  1. Being more adventurous can make a difference

If you'd have to ask me to try something new a couple years ago I would turn you down in a heartbeat but not anymore, anxiety has taught me that I should stop fearing new challenges or trying out something new because when you do start to get out of your comfort zone, you begin to meet new people and find yourself coping with your anxiety much easier.

  1. Laughter is something special

I got into humor writing due to how rewarding it is to make someone laugh and have them tell you ''hey you made my day'' after they were having a bad one. Laughter also helps those with anxiety, of course myself included as it not only provides a calming effect but releases dopamine which makes us happy. A good laugh is always healing.