What is Anxiety?

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Drawing inspiration from the Bell’s Let’s Talk event this year (2017) I am compelled to revitalize the Millennial Perspective blog from its grass roots. Though I’ve been on hiatus doing a range of things from writing for publications to school and travel, I’ve learned many things. Things I believe will enhance the Millennial Perspective and ultimately help people through a blog series about what started the blog, Anxiety.

 

What is Anxiety?

 

Anxiety is a controversial topic for it is subjective. It affects everyone in different ways. Though you and I may find overlapping similarities in our Anxiety, it is never truly the same experience. Though we cannot always understand what each other is going through, a common theme amongs those in the mental health community is to always say “I’m here for you.” Over the years I’ve seen Anxiety in many shapes and sizes, and there’s no one clear, textbook example of it. Anxiety can be the little girl not wanting to go out to parties because she feels uncomfortable in crowds and the peer pressure that is associated with them. Anxiety is also the teenage boy too scared to try new things because of what might happen. Anxiety affects us all in many different ways, and there’s still no clear solution, or a cure to what ails us.

Anxiety is normal. Everyone experiences Anxiety at times. For example, it is normal to feel anxious when you miss a bus, or before a job interview. It’s a system in our body that helps us perform our best or avoid danger. The definition of Anxiety is: a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

Put into such simple terms it can seem an afterthought to those that don’t experience Anxiety. Often people dismiss it, saying “It’s all in your head.” Those people have not experienced a panic attack. Though Anxiety is an imbalance in our brains, it is not a made up phenomenon that can just be thought away.

One constant of Anxiety is a fear of the unknown. Through overthinking, what could happen becomes what will happen. Anxiety is pessimistically perceiving an event in the future whether it’s a task, a conversation, traffic, a crowd, it is predicting the future through a worst case scenario filter. The most rewarding part of this often crippling fear is that when you can put the fear aside and do something you feel anxious about, you often benefit through positive life changing experiences. This, however, does not make the next time any easier unless it was a common fear you overcame such as acrophobia, arachnophobia, galeophobia, etc.

 

What does Anxiety mean to me?

Anxiety is heavily triggered by unpredictability, but Anxiety itself is unpredictable. This is why Anxiety about Anxiety will trigger panic attacks due to an endless cycle. It is a constant internal barrier to overcome. People with Anxiety constantly overthink situations and doubt their ability to carry through their responsibilities. Meeting new people is often very hard, not due to shyness, but from the fear of crowds. First impressions are very important but if you’re someone with Anxiety, you can affect others which makes them uncomfortable, tarnishing someone’s view of you possibly forever. This is why crowds so often frighten people that suffer from Anxiety. Things that normally stress people out such as money, school, work, etc. affect people with Anxiety to another level and if you don’t make it work to your advantage, it can really go downhill. Communication is key but is it always easy to identify what’s causing the Anxiety? People ask how they can help you but if you can’t identify the problem then how can you find a solution?

On a personal note, Anxiety runs in my family. I’ve been afforded the luxury of having the elders pass on knowledge about Anxiety and what to do if you’re diagnosed, what coping mechanisms are effective and who to talk to when I can’t handle it. Several years ago I saw several doctors to get on a proper balance of medication and self-awareness due to a string of panic attacks really scaring me. I learnt that breathing through the stomach in deep, slow breathes required more thought than I had expected. When we’re born as babies, we breathe that way naturally and over time we start to breathe more through our chest. This actually results in a shortness of breath.

After learning several techniques on how to tame Anxiety and calm myself from panic attacks, I felt I only needed see my family doctor, Dr. Kanagaratnam, who’s amazing. Much of my remedy for Anxiety is less medical and more mindfulness as I started practicing meditation which is very therapeutic. All the methods I’ve used to tame my Anxiety will be shared throughout this blog series as I hope I can help others the way others have helped me.

 

What’s next?

Whether the series is successful or not, I have several blogs planned on Anxiety through my experiences and observations since initially writing about it. I plan to discuss further what it is, as it is a very complex topic. I also intend to discuss the triggers of Anxiety, the fight vs flight instinct, Self-Awareness with Anxiety, how to help others with Anxiety, Travel Anxiety, City Anxiety, Anxiety about making plans, how others can effect those with Anxiety, and several more. Hopefully through the series and discussing ways I have overcome Anxiety, I can help others do the same.

The Global Village

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Nowadays, you can’t escape the feeling of a global village. Now, if you don’t know what that means, don’t worry about it, I am sure many others feel the same. A global village is more of the concept of being closer to people in China, Japan, Haiti, etc. We know it most from media, in fact… it is BECAUSE of media that we are the global village that we are. This global village allows me to know what is happening around the world at the click of a button. It makes me think the world is so small, but if you go outside, especially if you go to sea, you realize the fact that the world is massive, and we are just these tiny little creatures with something the others apparently don’t have. My mom always talks about the frontal lobes and how that is a link to our superiority, but that is another subject altogether. Often times the global village all comes together to aid a chapter within. To support each other, pick each other up when they are at their lowest.

Natural disasters happen all the time, especially since the big climate change that’s happened in the last decade or so. We’ve witnessed Katrina, the horrible hurricane that destroyed not only New Orleans but surrounding areas as well. It left people homeless, and certainly hopeless. As minutes turned into hours, hours into days, days into weeks and still the aid was minimal. Many people were stuck on their roofs, in the hot southern sunny weather. Some people were stuck in hospitals, surely it was a very hectic situation, and my heart goes out to all the victims of that terrible hurricane. The next “big” natural disaster was Haiti. To me, I didn’t even know about this place beforehand, I knew it sounded awfully like the Greek god “Hades” which to me felt a little ironic. However, ignorance aside, it’s a small city on a small island in the Caribbean. Surely many of us didn’t know or care about this place before the dramatic 7.0 magnitude earthquake, but as soon as it happened we rushed to their aid. Helping people we didn’t even know or care about beforehand in their time of need. Apparently we learned from Katrina that these places need help immediately. My third example of these amazing natural disasters is Japan. We all know Japan, we all know and own things that come from Japan. Perhaps your car is from Japan, or perhaps your TV is, or maybe your gaming system. We are all linked to that one tiny island in Asia in some way or another. Suddenly, it was shaken to it’s foundations, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake ruptured, and devastated the north east area of Japan. Areas were flooded, many more were destroyed, a nuclear power plant was leaking and in danger of exploading. Again, we flew to their aid. Even more than with Haiti, I remember not only was their ways to donate on the news, magazines, etc. But also on my PS3, you could buy themes for your PS3 where all the proceeds would go to Japan aid. Similar things like this arose in games like World of Warcraft, the biggest game in the world today. For World of Warcraft you could buy a vanity pet on the blizzard store where the proceeds too would go to Japan. Many more examples poured from my city personally, no matter where you went you could donate to Japan on the spot.

Media coverage isn’t only used in tragic situations however, it is also used to.. well… bring news. For example, expos around the world happen every year and Millions of people that wanted to go, simply cannot find a way there or it costs too much, or whatever. Personally, I can’t afford to go to California twice a year surprisingly… oh how I wish I was lying. BUT with the click of a button I can be watching the live Expo feed, free of charge. With sites like IGN running all the coverage all day, every day. In the case of my favorite developer in the world, Blizzard, you have to pay to watch a live stream, but somehow $50 sounds A LOT more affordable than the thousands it would cost to go there and see it in person. This constant flow of information is not limited to just expos of course. On the internet you can find anything you want if you look hard enough. It’s almost impossible to keep anything a secret anymore with the internet constantly getting bigger and bigger. Even on CNN “the most trusted name in news” they will post links to certain congressman’s twitters for example (Weiner man, we all know you did it). The internet is surely the global village of today, where the Television was the global village of yesterday.

Now for the bombshell you have been waiting for. I didn’t want to say it, y’all don’t want to read it but it MUST be said. The Vancouver riots. I know your heart skipped a beat thinking about it. Stanley cup finals. Game 7. Luongo… what the HELL were you DOING!? Sure it was a piss off that we lost, hockey brought us all together in ways that Transformers and Harry Potter simply cannot do. But we lost… and then we had a massive temper tantrum. Cars were lit on fire, windows smashed, store fronts completely destroyed. Thankfully nobody died for such a ridiculous cause, but did we have to take it as far as we did? We lost a GAME in a SPORT, sorry guys, I thought we always take that risk in sports. When teams lose the Superbowl, does their hometown blow up? No, they say “Oh well, we can get them next year”. This is a great example of why I like football (de Americano)more than Hockey. The fans aren’t a bunch of babies. On the news for the riot coverage the reporter said things like “I don’t think anyone could have predicted this” and “These aren’t hockey fans”. Hate to say it buddy but you are entirely wrong. This is the maturity level of hockey fans in Vancouver, also EVERYONE was a fan during the finals. As for predicting it? I did, I knew tear gas was going to fly the minute the game started. It’s that gut feeling of thinking about last time we were in Game 7. I chose not to go downtown cause no matter if we won or lost I just didn’t want to be there. It wasn’t worth it. What does this rabbling have to do with the global village? Well we, the people from Vancouver, became the Village idiot that night. The guy that everyone laughs at and makes fun of, that’s all of us. Introduce yourself to average Joe south of the border and he will likely say something  witty that his mom probably told him about the riots here. Personally, I am not one to separate myself from everyone else. Alienation breeds hate then depression. However, I am not the one that screwed up, and you know what?  I don’t even have to justify myself, I was home that night watching the game in my favorite chair. Does it suck to be associated with that when I tell people I am from Vancouver? Indeed it does, but nobody is going to make me feel like the village idiot. Nobody is going to beat me down because of where I come from. I love my hometown, and indeed my country. The only thing I love more than my country is my village. We are all a community, and ultimately… we are all family.