Anxiety, ASD and the monsters within.
Anxiety and it’s many faces!
Phew, where do I start? What does anxiety look like? What does it feel like? Does it make us behave differently? Do we think differently when we are Anxious?
As you can already see there are many, many faces and things attached to anxiety. It is unpredictable. Some days you may feel ‘OK’, nothing seems to be worrying you, there are no obvious concerns, then all of a sudden you get that ‘oouufff’ feeling. (Trust me it is a difficult feeling to express, however when you get it you know). From this the mind may start to wander. All of a sudden you can’t think or you over think. You have unrealistic thoughts about yourself or the situation. You suddenly start catastrophizing – thinking the worse. What if’s cross your mind and lo and behold you can’t continue with what you were doing.
This can then progress to physical or emotional feelings. Emotional things like feeling on edge, a feeling of fear or dread. Low confidence appears, or anger, irritability and guilt creep over you. Self-criticism and self-doubt are waving their hands high at this point, if they hadn’t already started. By now, you may be feeling that you physically have something wrong. Sweating, a headache, dizziness or nausea sweep in. Heart palpitations, tightness or pain in the chest are there. This increases everything tenfold, as the worry of ‘am I having a heart attack’ starts to roll over you. There could be tremors, twitches and muscle aches and pains abound.
Keep in mind though that all of these symptoms and more, are not necessarily short term. They can be prolonged and worsen daily, appearing at different times. Loss of appetite, skin problems and rashes may also appear and not forgetting sleepless nights. I mean please, let’s heap more onto the anxiety monster and reduce our resilience even more by being tired.
If this wasn’t enough anxiety can have behavioural effects. These include avoiding doing things or seeing people. People that you like and want to be with too! Drinking or taking drugs or self-harming behaviours increase. You may start pacing and fidget. Crying and seeking reassurance off of others.
There are many other faces to anxiety than those I have written above. Each one as real and concerning as the next. Anxiety can take over our lives. The symptoms, behaviours and feelings can be debilitating and completely crippling. The question is how do you manage it? Compassionately, caringly and gently. CBT and counselling are great ways to help. Through session the counsellor can help you identify those thoughts that have become negative, unhealthy and unrealistic. They can help with maladaptive behaviours and help to challenge those existing thoughts and patterns and help to put in place alternative ones that are more constructive and positive to the person.
By helping a person see themselves in a different way, allowing them to see their strengths and positives that have been lost to anxiety their self-esteem and resilience will start to grow once more. In turn giving that person the strength to be able to understand and manage their anxiety. I know it sounds easy; however, it isn’t. It takes time and support. Imagine feeling so anxious you cannot get out of the house one day (or on many days) and the thought of going to counselling, seeing a stranger of all things and opening up. Looking at yourself and these deep, scary and often mind-numbing thoughts, feelings and behaviours. How overwhelming is that?
If you have Asperger’s anxiety can be triggered off even more. Changes in routine or events that have been planned not working out. Not being able to understand your feelings or emotions or the other persons, cause anxiety and can often lead to ‘melt-downs’ that are uncontrollable. Leaving you physically and mentally exhausted. Finding out later in life you have ASD can cause all sorts of anxiety and a loss of who you are or were. As an autism specialist counsellor, I understand those complex needs. The challenges of trying to ‘read’ or understand the needs of another person and the needs of the family or your partner. Being the family member or partner of someone who is neuro-diverse is angst ridden and can batter your self-esteem, leaving you drained and anxious as to what will happen next.
As a counsellor and an autism specialist counsellor, I have the experience to work with you and to work at your pace. I have the experience to understand the difference of being neuro-diverse or neuro-typical. Some weeks you will feel like you can fly, that you are indestructible. Others though, you may feel as though you cannot even string a coherent sentence together or get out of bed. Whichever week or day you are having I will be able to support you in the sessions to help you build your own strength once more. There is no expectation of how you ‘should’ be, no judgement. Just compassion, empathy, patience and a safe place to explore and find yourself. If you have anxiety and would like support, please get in touch 07305 676680, there is a way forward.