There are things that always seem to trigger your anxiety. But also, oftentimes there is absolutely no trigger and your anxiety will just smack you in the face, I will talk about that too.
When there is a trigger however, over and over again, these things seem to just take over your mind and inject it with anxiety. Why? Every single time and it feels like there is nothing you can do to stop it. It hurts and makes you feel frozen, unable to move, think, or live.
I will tell you about my anxiety. I will discuss some things that trigger my anxiety – how they just take a toll on me. It’s like these things are constantly pushing me underwater. And just as I am about to run out of air, these things release me allowing me to catch one more breath before pushing me back under and then the cycle continues.
These things won’t kill me but they sure do a good job of making sure I suffer.
First, I want to point something out about anxiety that a lot of people who don’t suffer from it don’t seem to understand.
I hear all the time that too many people in this generation suffer from anxiety and that you just can’t let yourself fall victim to it. That too many people let themselves fall victim and then it takes over and they just have themselves to blame. That they should just be stable and strong.
This isn’t true. That is not anxiety. Anxiety is not being nervous to go out. Anxiety is not being nervous or anxious before writing a test. Anxiety is not being anxious to meet someone new. Anxiety is not being anxious because final exams are coming up. Those feelings are natural and while those things can make people over-anxious which is not healthy, that is not the mental illness anxiety. These things people can take preventable measures to subsidize or calm the tension. But that is definitely not the mental illness anxiety.
So people are confused about this which is understandable. But unfortunately, there are also people who misdiagnose themselves with anxiety because of this confusion which just destroys the validity of mental illness and reinforces the stigma.
So What Is Anxiety?
So then what is this mental illness and why is it so detrimental? Often times, there is literally no reason for anxiety. There is actually no trigger. You can just be sitting in your room with nothing to do that night. You are completely by yourself, nothing to fear nor worry about, and it just smacks you out of nowhere. You are so fearful. Your heart starts beating fast. You feel so worrisome and irritable. But because of what? Nothing.
You can’t get it to go away. It feels so hard to. You can tell yourself over and over again – it’s just my anxiety kicking in but it just feels like you are suffocating under a blanket with a couple tiny holes in it to just give you enough air to live. It’s like it is just a part of you. It’s literally in you and the only way to get rid of it would be to cut it out.
That is anxiety.
You can’t blame yourself for that. You do not fall victim to that. You cannot control that. And unless you go through this, you will not understand anxiety.
So I know I said above that getting nervous for a test or anxious because finals are coming up or you are seeing a family member for the first time in a long time, and your nerves are through the roof – that that is not anxiety. Truth is, it is not. And a lot of people may want to believe it is so they can classify themselves as having it – which is weird I guess.
But the confusing part is that if you do have anxiety and you will know what I mean if you do – is that these things we can all get tense about, some more than others, but if you have anxiety already – the real anxiety I just mentioned above then these things will hit your nerves a lot harder than normal making it feel like you are experiencing your normal anxiety.
This is difficult to understand. And maybe it is a combination of both. But it is not solely your mental illness. Because you can take steps to prevent this. For example, if you are about to write a really important exam and you are freaking out, you can think of how much effort you put into studying and whatever happens, you tried your hardest. Or if you are meeting a family member or friend that you haven’t seen in a long time and you are horribly anxious, you can think about all the good times you had in the past to subsidize the tension.
But real anxiety is so hard to control. It seems impossible. So what can trigger this awful mental illness?
4 Things That Will Trigger Your Anxiety
So when I say trigger I mean things that release this feeling I talked about. This fear. This worrisome. This heartbeat. This mind that won’t allow a tiny piece of security or safety in.
Things like you are about to write a test or you are about to go run a cross-country race are not triggers. They don’t trigger your anxiety. They are just reasons why you feel anxious or nervous. Triggers are things that can set off your illness and not always but often times they have no correlation as to why you feel that way.
So these things for me will set off my anxiety. Maybe not for you. You might have completely different triggers, but I find these are the worst for me.
Coffee may seem like a silly first trigger. But it really isn’t. I am not going to get into the whole reasoning of caffeine and what it does etc. But if you think about it, for people who do not suffer from anxiety, coffee will have absolutely no effect like this on them whatsoever.
For me, there is no reason drinking coffee should make me anxious. But that is exactly what anxiety is. A lot of the times there is no reason. It is a feeling and it is a part of you. So I could be sitting in my room all alone doing absolutely nothing for the whole night and coffee – caffeine will set it off. I can get away with having one cup sometimes but anything more is terrible.
Memories hit me hard. Even if it is something that is not necessarily traumatic. But more like something that happened in my past, something that happened years ago that I am not proud of. Something that I may be embarrassed about, angry about, something that I didn’t get closure on.
They can trigger this in me and even though I know there is no possible way these memories can hurt me, they set off this anxiety in me.
3) Being Out in Public
So some of you may be a little confused on this one and may think that it is similar to going to meet someone you haven’t seen in a long time or similar to writing a test, but it’s different. Being out in public can set off a lot of people’s anxiety.
For example, I am definitely better with this one now, but when I used to go even to the mall to walk around, this type of fear hit me. I felt so worrisome. Like I had prying eyes on me. Like I was a target. Like I had something to fear. But there was literally nothing to fear. I looked around and saw everyone minding their own business, laughing, listening to music, shopping but why was I feeling this? It was terrible. That is anxiety – being out in the mall and you really have nothing to fear but anxiety sets in anyways – but a situation like meeting someone new or someone you haven’t seen in a while, there’s a direct reason to feel nervous or anxious. Do you see where I am coming from?
This is my last one. I think a solid foundation around my mental illness is loneliness. How I feel so isolated. Like no one can hear me or help me. I am alone. I have bottled up everything for so long. I feel untouchable. And so when I am alone in my room without a worry is when my worry will kick in. I am truly alone and it hits me. It’s like anxiety senses some sort of vulnerability and finds its opening and shoots and hits its target every time.
So that is anxiety for me and what my triggers are. On a side note, I know mental illness is weird and works in a variety of ways making it different for everyone, which is why it is so difficult to understand. I spend days on days trying to understand my illness and why I feel a certain way.
But for me – as for anxiety, I feel frozen, isolated, fearful, unable to live properly, like I am on pins and needles. Other people may feel the same. But for others, they can also have their triggers that create this feeling and then send them on a frenzy of negativity – negative thoughts, negative actions etc. Mine can do this too but I feel more frozen than anything. Maybe I have become good at combating negativity. Not too sure but anxiety can work differently for others.
What is important is to understand what I tried to explain above (the difference between actually having mental health problems with anxiety versus just being anxious or overly tense over something) so we can help legitimize mental illness and reduce the stigma.
Here is a great video I found describing what this mental illness actually feels like. Anxiety can be different for everyone. It works in weird and wondrous ways but this video describes all the possibilities I feel like.
Lastly, here are 20 Tips when dealing with anxiety and depression I made that I try to implement in my life. Every day is a battle but remember we have to always try to fight.