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Stigma Fighters : Dallas McDonald

What is anxiety? It seems like I’ve been asked this question a million times in my life. How do you explain something to someone that you don’t fully understand yourself? I envy you people who ask me this question. I think you people are so lucky to not understand. I sincerely hope you never get the answer to this question.
You know that feeling when you almost fall backwards off of a chair? That split second of panic. That is what anxiety is. It is like falling backwards, all the time.
Think of the thing in this world you fear most, then imagine that thing is in the house with you. Always there. Always waiting.
Panic attacks, now that is when the real fun starts. Everyone has different varieties. Some people act out with aggression and anger. Some people it comes out in the form of hyper activity, and un-ability to form a clear thought. For me, everything stops, except my heart rate. My hands go numb, and then the closest way I could describe it, is like having my soul sucked out of my body through my feet.
I don’t remember the first time I really had anxiety, I think maybe I always had it. I didn’t have a troubled childhood. My parents are good people. I am well educated. I have made some less than favourable life choices in the past, but that was long after the anxiety had moved in for good.
There are millions of treatments out there thought to help or “cure” anxiety. Natural, chemical, illegal, legal…pick your poison. I have tried likely close to a million.
People are more than happy to tell you their ways of dealing with anxiety, exercise and good diet come up a lot. I’m happy for you people who a good run seems to fix everything, maybe I should buy a hamster wheel. Problem is sometimes I am too anxious to leave the house. The very thought of stepping foot inside of a gym makes me uncomfortable.
Medications, there are also a million. I have tried a few of these, some have made me a lot worse off for wear. Finding the proper treatment takes time, commitment and a lot of frustration. You’re anxiety is unique to you. It is a unique as you are, and just as much a part of you as your eye colour.
Here is the good news, anxiety does have its up-sides. We are known to have more empathy that most, we know what it is like to struggle with something, and that makes it easier for us to relate to others. At the very least, it gives us the drive to want to relate. We are sensitive, and caring. We are detailed.
I am learning all the time about how to deal with anxiety. I have learned that I am going to stop putting myself in situations that cause me anxiety. I have learned to surround myself with supportive people, and to forget the rest. I have learned to just work with the bad days instead of fight against them, if you need a day for you, take it. I have been an insomniac since I was a teenager, so I work a lot of evenings and nights. I work in social services with other’s who suffer from mental health issues, this gives my anxiety purpose.
Some of the most talented a creative minds in history have struggled with mental health. We are the artistic, the actors and comedians. We are mothers, fathers, daughters and sons. We are the stranger on the bus. We come from all walks of life. We are the 1 in 5. We are everywhere.

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11052479_10152810741491032_177616718944062433_nI grew up in a tiny town in central Canada, now living in Vancouver. I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder in my early 20s, although it began much earlier than that. I have recently come out of the “mental health closet,” and it has been one of the most empowering, humbling and positive experiences of my life.

Dallas can be found on her blog, Twitter and Facebook

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