It’s Not Just in My Head :: the Anxious Body

People who live with anxiety face a battle almost everyday. I know because I have diagnosed anxiety. We often try to educate people on how to help us cope by giving them a lot of information at once. That can be helpful, but also overwhelming. 

To understand anxiety you must first grasp that it affects the mental AND physical. We speak often about the anxious brain, but what about the anxious body?

Ever heard of generalized anxiety? It is anxiety that lives on the inside of a person. It involves their nervous system and causes sensations in the physical body. I think of it as my body having a panic attack. Imagine feeling like all of the sensors in your body are going off all at once. It kind of feels like “Oh no I need to cry, run, pee, sleep, scream, scratch all at the same time,” all while having sporadic shakes.

It can be triggered by nothing and everything. I wake up feeling palpitations — what we affectionately term as the jitters. It’s like a cell phone vibrating inside, and it can cause actual convulsions and shakes. I can be fast asleep and suddenly jolted awake with the sensation that I’m rocking on a boat, only to find I am laying perfectly still. It can also lead to rapid heart rate and hyperventilation. 

Anxiety is heightened sensitivity. Did you know that applies to noises too? So one day I could be functioning just fine in my loud house with three children running around. Then the next day the sound of my five-year-old’s voice could cause my body to feel physical pain. My heart to pound. Imagine the very same sounds that bring you joy, i.e. your children’s laughter or your husband playing music on the piano … now sending you into shock and great discomfort. Sometimes a text tone can feel like nails on a chalk board to my body. 

Anxiety sufferers often feel guilty because they know these are not symptoms people can see, and they can make others feel defensive or irritated. The truth is the best way for families to cope is to communicate and gain understanding of what is happening. I try to love on my kids extra hard on the good days hoping that they store up a little extra on the tough days. My plea to non-sufferers would be to have compassion and be patient. Educate yourself as much as possible on how this disorder affects all parts of the people you love. 

Strong willed and determined since a little girl, this mom of three, wife, worship leader, writer, and career woman, believes dreams come true if you do the work. Nikyla hails from St. Louis, Mo, the “show me” state. She is a graduate of Louisiana State University and Southern University. She is a certified teacher and currently teaches at Louisiana Connections Academy. Her time out of the office is filled with family, friends and faith. She adores her three children Kyre, K’mya, and Kris and has been married to her childhood sweet heart Remiah Trask for fourteen years. Nikyla is currently a worship leader at Anchor Chapel in Baton Rouge. She has always been passionate about the things she sets her mind to. Her story of victory over severe anxiety disorder, after her third child, is truly one you must hear to believe. It will transform the way you view people with mental illness and even the way you view yourself. She is the founder of the mental health campaign entitled Be Brave. Writing has become a form of therapy for her, and the stories she shares are always honest, heartfelt, and transparent. Read more of Nikyla’s Brave Blogs here.

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