Anxiety Support Group

POSTED: Tue Aug 16, 2016 12:06 pm

Back Story: As many of you that I talk to on AIM know, I have been dealing with anxiety for as long as I can remember but it has really come to the forefront during my undergrad. I wont pretend to have the worst anxiety ever but I thought we could share our experiences here and talk about how you help calm yourself as well as share any other support and tips you might have.

Personally I have always been that kid that looks way to far into the future and had an 'all or nothing' attitude about success. I struggled as a kid to make friends and by the time I was in grade 4 I remember thinking about university, in grade 7 I had my full 4 years of high school courses planned, and in grade 12 I had a very clear picture of what I would be and how I was going to get there. Unfortunately at the end of grade 12 I started to become incredibly critical of my success, or lack there of, particularly in music (the field I planned/did pursue) and developed very severe performance anxiety.

I'm not sure how many of you suffer from or know much about performance anxiety but essentially its very localized to 'success'. I DREAD any situation where someone can be perceived as judging me for my success at something. All through undergrad I would cry myself to sleep before solo performances, shake my way onto stage and if I got through it I considered it a success and moved on. At the end of third year I was hospitalized for a sever panic attack, followed by being prescribed anxiety medication. Through fourth year most were supportive but unfortunately living in an environment of continuous performing for others for marks made life a living hell for me and turned something I loved, music, into something I was scared of.

Current Issues: Fortunately, as I have said, I only have severe performance anxiety and minor generalized anxiety so the change of environment into a focus on education has REALLY helped me calm down and feel successful. I still dread any playing of instruments in front of people but its something I can work around a lot of the time and I've found that once I get started teaching a class my anxiety goes away. My only current issue is that my two roommates also suffer from mental health issues and the three of us can bounce off each other negatively XD!!!

When I am at home I need a lot of quiet time and chill time to recover but roommate A has anxiety and depression, dealing with it by outwardly rambling/general yelling about issues, leaving things to the last minute then panicing, or nice long naps. So she needs a lot of external support from me and will often decide it is time to clean the house or go out and do something at a moments notice - which I HATE :|. I need advanced notice for things and when she starts rage cleaning the house I know she suddenly expects me to jump to it but I really seriously don't want to and it's NOT my mess 80% of the time so then I just sit here an anxious ball of "do I don't I". Roommate B triggers Roommate A and I via OCD cleaning and not sitting the heck down ever. She has to always be on the go doing something but it in program to help her not do those things - so our general day to day dishes/mess triggers her and then her doing what she isn't suppose to gets us going.

Does any one have any tips on how to deal with sudden change more smoothly as well as how to introvert and recover from my day while still expending energy to support my roommates?


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POSTED: Tue Aug 16, 2016 12:33 pm

Brief because phone + work. I think you and your roommates need a good conversation about expectations with the house, especially about moments when coping mechanisms clash. I think it's a good convo to have if you're seeing these issues. Have a candid and respectful discussion about how to react and what to expect. Idk if you have had this talk yet but it might be worthwhile for another if you have.

Edit: i occasionally get anxiety (mostly triggered by my mother) and i warned my bf at the time that i get antsy and what to expect from my anxiety. I get cleany and twitchy, depending. Telling helped him understand better and left out the need to explain what i needed during a bout.
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POSTED: Tue Aug 16, 2016 12:39 pm

I don't typically talk about it much, but if my experiences can help you in any way, I'm glad to offer what I can.
I have anxiety and depression, like this Roommate A. My social anxiety tends to persuade me from even giving a stranger compliments, leaving the house, or even posting much OOC here (I do love you guys though, and I lurk!). I also have generalized anxiety which has led to a lot of stress and excessive worry. My environment is ridiculously stressful and I've lived/live in a both a physically and emotionally abusive household. I was diagnosed and medicated with severe depression in the 4th grade, but I would not suggest medication personally.
Though I still suffer, medication never made me feel better. I felt very empty and unmotivated.

With this knowledge and experience, though, maybe I could help you in understanding how to best approach your Roommate A? I know that doesn't give you direct advice, but I hope it can help.

Do you think she would take advice to manage her anxiety/depression in a different manner? In just the last year, my friends and I have noticed a significant improvement in my behavior and confidence, and I may have some suggestions she could try, which may in turn help you!

Ranting/venting is definitely something I still do, but to a trusted few people. If you're there for her and it isn't causing you to feel stressed, that is a huge help to her, I can almost assure you. Though maybe suggest simply talking, perhaps ask about her day in a quiet and friendly manner if you're willing to listen. Sometimes it makes it better just knowing somebody is there. Respond in a soft manner and she may tone down herself.

I also used to do things spontaneously because it is very difficult to feel motivated with anxiety/depression. Sometimes you do actually have a sort of window when you feel the drive to do something different or you get restless and upset. It also provides a distraction, as I tend to over-think to the point of having anxiety attacks or otherwise emotional breakdowns.
However, I've managed to change that a bit by making plans ahead of time. And they aren't always major! Something as simple as maybe visiting a bookstore or taking a walk. She may not feel motivated then, but it may give her something to look forward to, and may prompt better time management when it comes to cleaning as well? It can be tough sometimes, but she has to be willing and it has honestly helped me in the long run. I feel generally more happy and less concerned with having to do something right that moment.

Having a schedule would really benefit her. I recently got a job and I honestly can't wait. My social anxiety makes me worry, as I'll be a server, but the organized business and routine is what I need to distract myself from over-thinking and to know what exactly I'm doing so I can work around that.

As for you, unfortunately I can't relate as well, but remember that it's not your responsibility to worry over your roommates. You sound like an incredible and supportive friend, which is super admirable, but you need to take care of yourself as well.
Maybe find a comfortable environment you can escape to on occasion so you get a regular break. Taking up a new hobby may help (I wholeheartedly suggest reading or listening to music, or a nice podcast!). Make time to cool down!
Definitely focus on your successes as well. It sounds like this class is really helpful for you, and you seem to have already come a long way! Hopefully through better management of their own issues, you and your roommates can all support each other. Just remember that you can't put that above your own mental health, so if they don't seem cooperative, it may not be a healthy situation.

I'm sorry that I can't give better advice, but I wanted to at least offer what I know. If you have any questions, I'd love to help with whatever is possible. I sincerely hope you all can find a way to live together in a supportive and happy manner!

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POSTED: Tue Aug 16, 2016 1:01 pm

Quick and smoll because phone and work: Agreed with Pabs! And Gen!

Most importantly: you need to prioritize your health first.

I have a huge problem with boundaries, ahah, and it's become instrumental to my wellbeing that I firmly delineate my space to other people. You are not responsible for them! And especially if their issues are affecting you past a point you can reasonably handle, it's important that you communicate with them and try to set up some house rules.

For example, make a cleaning schedule that everyone agrees on, or make a cleaning habit (like everyone washes their own dishes right after they use them) that must be done. If your roommate goes into cleaning sprees, that is her responsibility and not yours, don't take that onto yourself!

It is great you are trying to be supportive, but being supportive can also mean not putting up with something if it's actively affecting others. Just to be clear, I don't mean like, no tolerance or patience, but kind reinforcement of behaviour that won't hurt you or others. So being honest and forthright with them can be a type of help, letting them know in the moment that their frantic cleaning is the result of some other anxiety (in my experience, a lack of feeling in control or being afraid of accomplishing some other task), and if you are able and in a good space of mind, talk to them about it. If not, then let them know how their anxiety os affecting you, and that you desire for them to be conscious of you too. That can seem selfish but it's not, we all need reminders that our behaviour can affect others, and its important to compromise and to stand up for yourself.

I figure this may be controversial, but I am happy and willing to hear other sides as I am not diagnosed with any specific mental health disorders, but that doesn't mean I don't have my fair share of complexes and experiences.

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POSTED: Tue Aug 16, 2016 1:24 pm

Gen: Roommate A and I are quite open about our mental health issues and she has gotten better since I moved in about giving me space - she use to wake me up by literally jumping on my bed at 8 am and would literally drag me out the door (literally...) to walk the dogs or go on errands when I was having my quiet time. Now she will push but backs off when I push back (though I would prefer no pushing!! XD). Roommate B's issues are more recent and more private so we have a mutual understanding that I know what is going on but we don't talk about it, I just try and make things peaceful for her and safe. Both my roommates go to therapy so that it helpful for all involved. I'm sure we will have to have an adapted conversation in the upcoming months because we have a poor fourth person moving in soon.

Pablo: As long as my day has been easy going I have zero problems sitting and listening and I often try and logic her out of whatever is getting her wound up with some success, the main issue occurs when it happens after I have been out all day (because my work and my volunteering is all with kids I have to be "on" all day, which I have no trouble with unless I get less downtime at home). It MIGHT be better once her cousin moves in because she'll have another person to talk to? She does have a schedule that she is meant to follow but unfortunately she has a lot more to deal with her in life than I do (she runs a household and owns a horse, dog and 2 cats). Once school starts again she will be even busier - which might be good or bad, we'll see!!!

San: You are welcome to share and help!!! You are very right that I need to stand my ground and vocalize my thoughts more. I tend to avoid conflict like the plague and just sit there stuck in my mind until it stops or I have enough and hide in my room :|. My roommates 100% get it when I go to my room as a clear signal that it's time to leave Melissa alone. We are currently undergoing renovations downstairs so it's a bit stressful in the house right now but I will be moving into a new bedroom down there with an attached small living room space so the hope is this will help me have a separate quiet space I can go to when I'm feeling overwhelmed. Plus when school starts again I'll be back to my regularly scheduled programming ;) (aka I wont be in the house to experience every little thing).


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