Wednesday 24 April 2013

"Fight or Flight"

"A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety." ~ Aesop
I have experienced something new. Or, perhaps, I just recognize it now for what it is: anxiety.
I am well acquainted with my old nemesis, depression. After many years of battle I understand it to be the enemy that it is. I am quick to recognize the clothes it wears and I can see it out of the corner of my eye, as it begins to sneak back to lay it's claim on my life. As for it's partner in crime, anxiety? Well, that's been trickier to spot.
I am currently recovering from what I now understand to be a combination of these two illnesses. At first I thought it was just (I can't believe that I am saying "just") depression. But I knew that this time around the block was a bit different.

But what is anxiety? And what is the difference between everyday stress & anxiety and illness? Good question (!) - I wanted to know so I did a little research...

Anxiety is the natural evolution of our fight or flight response. When we were all cave people and Pterodactyls were a real threat, the fight or flight instinct probably saved a few of us. Simply put, a little anxiety can keep us safe from danger. It's when the symptoms of anxiety are prolonged, severe, and disruptive to your life that it could be considered an anxiety disorder.

There are a few different types of anxiety disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and obsessive compulsive disorder, to name a few. Some of the symptoms of anxiety, depending on the type of disorder, are as follows:
  • Racing pulse, heart palpitations, possibly even chest pain
  • Shortness of breath, panting, dry mouth
  • Blushing
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Trembling, shaking, muscle tension
  • Dizziness
  • Hot flashes and sweating, or chills
  • Difficulties with sleep
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Restlessness/edginess/irritability
I have to admit that when I first read through this list I was surprised - I had been experiencing almost all of them for about the last six months. The last two months is when they became considerably disruptive to my life.

It is very common for depression and anxiety to work in tandem to make a person's life super unpleasant, to say the least. After overcoming my initial shock over the extent that anxiety was impacting my life, I took some time to reflect. I realized that anxiety has been there all along, just letting depression get all the glory.

Well guess what anxiety? I see you now and I recognize you for what you are. If depression couldn't take me down and out for the count then neither can you. And do you know why? Because I understand. Education is one of the most powerful tools in my mental health tool kit and I refuse to be uneducated and unempowered in this fight.

Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten
~ Natasha Bedingfield

Today things took a turn for me. Well, really, they have been turning ever so slowly for a few days now. But today was the day when I could literally and figuratively see the sunshine and the blue sky before me. That is thanks to my doctor, new medication, my support network, a new wellness plan, and time.

The road of life is never smooth - I have certainly learnt that lesson more than once. But every time that I have come to a crossroad or a bump (or serious road work!), I seem to have come out a bit stronger and with my positivity intact.

Anxiety is simply another crossroad in my life. The rest is still unwritten...

KB xo

P.S. To learn more about anxiety disorders please visit the Canadian Mental Health Association's website.

P.P.S. For a little inspiration, here is Natasha Bedingfield and her song "Unwritten"


  1. Thanks once again for the post, KB. I have often thought of anxiety as fear of what could happen, and depression as regret of what has happened. Anxiety can help motivate us to grow and is quite natural in new situations, but if left unchecked, it can be overwhelming. Breathing techniques have been helpful for me, particularly the Benson Technique (

  2. Hi Simon! Thanks for the comments - I'll look up the website for sure (I always love new resources for my tool kit!). Take good care!

  3. Great bit of information and well put. Funny how we are all different. For me the anxiety has always been more prevelant and easy to spot, it's the depression that was harder. So glad things seem to be moving in the right direction.

  4. Thanks, Danielle. yes, we are all different and can experience different things within the same illness. Interesting, isn't it?


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