Handling anxiety

Originally published on Medium.

I just watched WordPress.tv video about the subject “Handling anxiety” by Tom Nowell who works at WordPress.com VIP. I actually was in WordCamp Europe 2016 in Wien, Austria in 24–26th of June, but I didn’t see that talk, because there were so many talks and obviously you cannot be in every single one of them in the same time. I was prepared to the situation I’d have to give up some interesting talks to watch them later on WordPress.tv.

I have been having anxiety all my life. I have self-diagnosed GAD (Generalized anxiety disorder) for myself, and I am 99% sure I have it. The description of the condition just matches everything. You may ask why I haven’t seen the doctor for that matter — well, it’s a hassle to do that in Finland. I have told my counselors before about this, but they have often minimized the thought and only agreed about it without making any diagnose. But that’s not imporant, the only thing I care about is that I know about my condition.

I watched Tom’s talk about handling anxiety and I noticed something went to my eyes, because everything was just exactly the way I’ve been experiencing it. I also have been eating very poorly for the last 15 years. I often simply forget to eat, sleep, brush my teeth, drink or do the things everyone else seems to have habit for. I suffered from a harsh depression earlier in my life and when I survived from it, years later I still didn’t think those things or myself as that important. Nowadays I “only have” anxiety, but I still concentrate on coding or work for example rather than normal routines like eating.

I sometimes think am I just imaging things, because most of the people around me are saying everthing is okay. And I mostly know everything is okay. But it does not change the way I see the world or the way I feel about things. I can’t help to overhink things, it seems impossible not to worry too much. I have also stopped talking about it with my closest friends or relatives, because I feel like a broken record. I feel they get bored about the subject. And in the same time I know it actually is the same thing over and over again. It’s really frustrating.

Just now I was talking to one of my friends who quit drinking about a year ago because of anxiety. I quit spirits and wines back in 2013 just for that very same reason. A the latest now I know alcohol makes your anxiety worse. If not drinking, the hangover and the long lasting effects to the brain. This is a long story to tell, but in short, in 2013 I was in a bachelor party for my best friend and we binge drank four days straight. After it, I felt a normally hungover, but kinda “funny” in my head. That funny feeling was transformed into a mild brain fog, dizzyness and anxiety and it lasted for a year. I had panic attacks every second week and I simply thought I was going crazy or was going to die. It was between anxiety and a dissociation in a form of depersonalization and derealization and I went to therapy because of that. In therapy I learned to control my ever-looping thoughts and it gradually weakened the condition. Today, I know it’s still there but I won’t give power to it.

I have also realized I really am a introvert. Never interested about the people, never cared about going to stand out, never liked bigger crowds. Not that I would not want to. I do. I was always the one who sometimes got to know more people but in the group photos was that not-that-social, one awkward guy behind other people looking outside the picture while everyone was smiling to the camera.

Some people find it strange that I consider myself anxious or introvert, especially when I do talk to people in the Internet. Well, I always have liked the Internet, I love Twitter, I love conversations with people. I don’t need to think about myself, how to be around people, how to talk to them with my voice, etc. I do not need to think that much. There is no big difference for most of the people, but for me it’s huge.

I also love to talk in real life despite the fact it’s harder for me. I learn all the time, I have met awesome people and I really want to talk to people. That just does not come natural and even if I do, it really sucks the juice out of me. I need at least a day alone after meeting a group of people.

What comes to work and life in general, when I know a person, it gets easier. At work, I can be who I am and I rarely am anxious. When I go outside, it starts again, I start to overthink stuff. At conferences and meetings, it helps if I know one person in the group. If I don’t know anyone, I often skip the meeting. It helps to tweet with the person before the meeting.

I wanted to write this although I know this is just the stream of thought and talking about the subject is quite hard for me sometimes. In WordCamp Europe 2016 I met wonderful people and even got to talk about this subject with Ana Segota with the subject. I’m really glad I went and I’m really grateful about my friend Sami about boosting me, he always does.

Thanks for reading — feel free to tweet or write me about the thoughts you have or meet me in real life in next year in Paris.