When my anxiety became severe, I experienced a lot of the common symptoms but I also experienced weird sensations that made me think I was losing my mind. However, after speaking about them to medical professionals they explained what was happening. When I have shared these explanations with anxiety sufferers before, they have felt relieved as it validated their symptoms and reassured them that it is only anxiety – they are not losing their mind.
THE BRIGHT LIGHTS
Every time I left the house, or even sometimes when I looked at my phone or laptop I could not stand the brightness; nothing felt real. Outside everything seemed so colourful and overwhelming, which exacerbated my anxiety – I honestly felt like I was walking on another planet. No one else seemed to be bothered by the light which terrified me, as it had to be me that was the problem.
I was overjoyed to find out that having anxiety can make everything appear a lot brighter – it is a natural thing to happen. This occurs as when you are anxious your adrenaline increases and that induces the flight or fight response which dates back to the cave man times. Back then, this response would be activated if there was a predator around, so you would need sharp vision to spot any danger therefore our pupils evolved to dilate as a reaction to adrenaline. And while it was useful then as we could see clearer, nowadays when we feel anxious about something irrational our pupils dilating will only let more light into your eye, hence everything appears brighter, which is of no benefit – it was of detriment to me anyway. After I heard this, I felt reassured that I wasn’t going crazy and I cared less about the light, and now I don’t even notice it.
LIVING IN A DIFFERENT CLIMATE
When my friend asked how I could wear crop tops and vest tops throughout Winter, I looked around to see everyone else wearing jumpers. At this point in my journey, I was constantly anxious and so to keep myself cool I wore light layers in Winter; everyone else was always freezing but I used to find the cold calmed me down.
Adrenaline increases body temperature which explains why I get so warm when I’m anxious – I’m not going through a very early menopause (another thing I worried about). Additionally, the body increases perspiration as a result of this temperature increase so don’t be worried if you’re sweating a lot too.
My feet are constantly cold and some nights when I couldn’t sleep I thought it was actually due to my feet being frozen. Again, this symptom led me to believe I had a life-threatening circulation problem, however, this was not the case.
When you’re anxious your blood is focused on getting to your muscles and important organs, due to the fight or flight response, therefore reducing blood flow to your extremities. With a decreased blood flow, less heat is circulated to your hands and feet leaving them feeling cold. With that knowledge, I can put on some socks and stop worrying my feet will fall off.
TREE BRANCHES SPROUT LIMBS TO REMIND US THAT GROWTH IS NOT ALWAYS LINEAR