It is important to remember that not all anxiety disorder symptoms revolve around the physical sensations that we experience from the extra adrenaline our brains are cranking out.
All of that extra adrenaline can make you feel mental fatigue and other mental symptoms as well.
This is because adrenaline makes your mind hyper-aware and extra alert. And when you are in the throes of a bad anxiety spiral, you STAY hyper-aware and extra alert. Your mind basically never shuts off.
Your thoughts seem to never stop coming and often feel as though they are racing. Even when you are sleeping, your mind is more active and alert and constantly scanning for danger. 24 hours a day, you are a walking, hyped up radar, subconsciously scanning your body and your environment over and over again so you don’t “miss anything” that could potentially be a threat to you.
This is why insomnia is a huge problem for people with anxiety disorders.
Not only do we already have a hard time relaxing because that is the kind of personality we have (we just aren’t comfortable being relaxed), but then we are also dealing with brains that are doing everything short of blaring an air horn in our ears in order to keep us from letting our guard down too much. It can make sleep kind of hard to come by.
And when we are tired from lack of sleep, and emotionally and mentally exhausted from the constant scanning, worrying, checking, and everything else that goes along with having an anxiety disorder, we basically become like walking 3 year olds who REALLY need a nap. We start to over react to everything.
Everything seems 10 times worse when you are tired.
And when you are physically and mentally exhausted, and dealing with an anxiety disorder your whole world feels like one big “trigger”. It seems like anything can set your anxiety off. The longer this mentally exhausted state of mind goes on, the worse it can get, until eventually, you start to become a bit like Barney Fife after 2 pots of coffee. You are running around all over town firing your gun off every time you see your own shadow.
It’s not that we become “paranoid”. Rather, it’s a little thing I like to refer to as being “Scare-a-noid”.
“Scare-a-noia” is when you become so emotionally tired and run down that you become really jumpy all the time and startle easily, as well as perceive everything to be a much bigger issue/problem than you would if you were at your normal “settings”. Here are some other things that you might notice:
- You find it hard to focus.
- You often think you are seeing things out of the corner of your eye.
- You find it hard to stay still and are very fidgety.
- You can’t relax and you may have trouble sleeping.
- It often feels also though something bad is about to happen, even if you have nothing factual to base that feeling on.
- Noises can seem louder and lights can seem brighter.
- You don’t want to be touched. You just want to be “left alone”.
I went through a period of “Scare-a-noia” where I about jumped out of my shoes every time somebody said “hi” to me. I would startle so hard that it actually HURT. I remember yelling at my then-husband to stop scaring me, even though he wasn’t doing anything wrong or out of the ordinary. Often, he had simply just walked into the room to talk to me.
Everything seemed louder, “severe” and threatening. But this is what happens when you become overly sensitized by constant worry and stress and adrenaline. Just know that this response is a totally normal part of having an anxiety disorder, and it does NOT mean there is something wrong with you. It’s just a tired mind over-reacting to even the slightest of stimuli.
In addition to giving you “scare-a-noia”, mental fatigue can also cause you to develop some pretty interesting phobias that feel almost kind of rational at the time you are dealing with them. It isn’t until later on, when you are mentally healthier and more rested that you might start to think “I can’t believe I was ever afraid of that.”
For example, I have had symptoms where I feared I would yell out something awful in a crowd. Adrenaline can make you feel “surges” for lack of a better word where you feel like you won’t be able to control your thoughts or words or actions. (But you are ALWAYS in control…I promise.) I was just sure that those adrenaline surges were going to cause profanity or nonsense or some crazy sounding thing to come flying out of my mouth at any given inappropriate moment. This really bothered me! My poor, tired mind.
It may seem like such an odd thing to develop a phobia about , but all that adrenaline you are producing, combined with your level of mental fatigue, will make you over-analyze any fleeting thought and turn it straight into a fear. Whatever happens to grab your attention at just the right “tired moment” will become the new latest and greatest thing that you start to worry and panic over.
When you are emotionally exhausted, you are very susceptible to over-reacting to harmless things, falling into negative thought patterns, over analyzing your thoughts, and hatching new phobias and fears.
This is why you MUST…..you HAVE TO…..take care of yourself and get plenty of rest and relaxation when you are going through a particularly bad time. You are….we are…..all of us with anxiety disorders are always going to be more sensitive to the stresses of life than the average person and we have to take care of ourselves more than the average person does.
IT IS A MUST.
Once you rest and start to heal from whatever current stress or grief you are going through – and desensitize yourself and shut off the adrenaline, I promise you will get your life back and you will look back, and you too will say to yourself “I can’t believe I was ever afraid of that.”
It just takes time and consistency.
Know that whatever phobias or fears or obsessions you are going through….they do not mean you are insane or mentally “broken”.
On the contrary, your anxiety disorder is a sign that your brain is doing all of the RIGHT things. Just a little over-zealously. But that is something you can work with. With the right tools and the right amount of rest, self-education, determination and counseling/therapy if you decide to use it, you can put all of those things behind you and get your life back.
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