The physical effects of anxiety | Alex's Mental Health Story | Mind

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“So I’m making this video primarily to address the misconceptions surrounding panic attacks and anxiety disorders, and I should point out that before I had my first anxiety attack, you know, I had some these of misconceptions myself.

I should point out this started in my mid-twenties, so it can flare up at any point, and the way it manifested for me primarily was panic attacks usually in the evening when I was trying to get some sleep.

So I’d get about five to ten minutes’ sleep and then, boom! I’d be woken up by a racing heart and tension headache. I should mention that my father passed away of a stroke at 45, so when I get a pain in my head, I think, boom! You know, this is it, I think. So if we start with my first experience, one of my best friends took me to hospital and the doctors were convinced that I was having a heart attack. They gave me the drugs to treat me for a heart attack. I had various ECGs, various tests.

I had a chest x-ray. All my information was sent to a specialist hospital in London because they couldn’t… It wasn’t anything obvious, but when all that information came back clear, that’s when the doctor actually came in and had a conversation with me and said, you know, I am a fearful, panicky person, to which me and my friend were laughing because I’m sitting there saying, Listen I’ve done stand-up comedy around London.

I’ve got an acting background. That does not describe me. But the doctor said, you know, anxiety, panic attacks are going to affect most people in their life to varying degrees. So the way that I managed, manage my condition now is through medication, and the way I look at it is essentially like an asthmatic. They can’t control when their body has an attack. You know, they always constrict, and they need their medication to, you know, to help them, and it’s the same for me personally with my mental health disorder, is…

You know, my brain does things that I can’t control, and that’s what the medication helps with me. And I kind of found this out the hard way because I neglected my medication for about two years. And at my lowest point, you know, I wouldn’t even make a decision about what to have for dinner. So things that I would say are very important is, you know, is you have to notice the little changes, and it’s very hard to notice that when you’re in the moment because, you know, you feel normal. So arguably, you are normal when sometimes it’s not quite the case.

So I think it’s very important to find a baseline, you know, and just be aware of your baseline and have a close friend or relative or someone, you know, you trust who can, you know, just tell you when you’re slightly off and then you can make adjustments or, you know, do what you need to do to be aware of that. Because, as I say, when you’re in the moment, you really… You don’t feel like there’s a problem, and that’s when it can, you know, when it can spiral. And also be aware that it manifests in many different ways.

You know, in that two-year period where I was neglecting my medication, I didn’t have a single panic attack, but I was very indecisive. I wasn’t balanced. There was an unbridled fear within me. So it was affecting me in another way, and I think the lack of panic attacks was one of the key reasons that I thought I was actually fine when I wasn’t. But I think knowledge is power, and the more knowledge you have of the condition, you know, the more you can be aware of it and actually keep yourself nice and balanced.

So I’m happy to talk to anyone. I’ll keep an eye on the comments, but you’ll get there guys, so just stay positive, and if anyone wants to chat, I’ll be here.”


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