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My Experience with Anxiety as a HSP

Anxiety as a HSP feels different...

Since the age of 11 I have experienced anxiety and was diagnosed around age 21 with Generalised Anxiety Disorder, I spent a good 10 years with debilitating panic attacks.

This caused me to not be able to work for a few years, and during this time I was coping with my G.A.D on my own with no support, as back then there wasn’t much known about anxiety as there is today.

Over the years through my own experiences and training I learned to manage my symptoms whilst I was working on the core reasons for my disorder.

Recently I made the decision to talk to my doctor about my anxiety as a HSP, and he prescribed an anti-depressant for me.

In this article I am going to share with you my experience with an anti-depressant to support my anxiety as a HSP.

As a sensitive person there aren’t very many medicines I can take that don’t affect my body in negative ways, the anti-depressant wasn’t any different…

Knowing this I committed to staying the course, and getting through the side effects over the first three weeks.

The side effects consisted of high levels of anxiety, dry mouth, exhaustion, loss of interest in food, loss of sensation below the waist 🤨

Most of the side effects went away except for loss of sensation below the waist, that never returned whilst on the medication.

I made the choice to accept this side effect, if it meant my anxiety levels as a HSP were managed, and I stayed on the medication for 10 weeks.

I started to notice side effects I wasn’t aware of, my husband mentioned that I hadn’t really been myself, he hadn’t seen me smile for a while.

The beach no longer provided the deep joy and serenity it once had, looking outside at nature didn’t evoke anything thing in me like it once did and emotional shows on TV no longer evoked anything.

Anxiety as a HSP

Now this is when I really started to understand the cost of this medication for me, I wasn't feeling...

Unbeknown to me I was numb, I wasn’t feeling everything like I had my whole life as a highly sensitive soul and empath.

I guess that is the idea of the medication but for me that was too high of a cost.

Whilst feeling everything played a part in my anxiety as a HSP, it is part of my gift as a highly sensitive soul. 

My soul purpose as an empath is to be able to feel, and have sensitivities to things that other people may not and whilst this can be challenging, it is not something I am willing to give up.

My third full day off the medication, saw my tears come back, and I realised and said to myself “wow you haven’t cried for 10 weeks”, to me this wasn’t okay. 

I teach my clients all the time how tears are good, crying is healing.

Whilst emotions and feelings can be uncomfortable, they are not to be feared or supressed.

If we allow them to flow through they can be our friends, and as I am writing this the scene from Finding Nemo floated in to my mind…

“Fish are friends not food”, “Feelings are friends not enemies”.

Day 6 of been off my medication, I was feeling amazing, back to being myself again and I was so grateful.

Anxiety as a HSP

I Can Feel Again!

Now of course this is not telling you what to do with your medication, this is me sharing my own personal experience with anxiety as a HSP, and the effects of an anti-depressant on my sensitive body.

This experience for me has highlighted the importance of my work, and how I support my clients, finding the core and underlying reason is always so much more powerful than addressing the symptom only.

Of course I acknowledge medications have a very important role in supporting people in their physical and mental wellbeing, I also know it is important to work on more than the symptom, pulling back the layers and healing the cause.

Disclaimer – I am not a medical professional and I am not recommending you change your medications in any way, please speak to your doctor before considering changing or stopping any medications.

Healing is the long game...

As I aforementioned anxiety and depression medications most definitely have there place in supporting mental health.

They can absolutely have a place in your healing regime to address symptoms of declining mental health.

That is something I want to address in this article, the medical model surrounds heavily the symptoms you are experiencing.

Whilst addressing your symptoms is very important, as we want to ensure you can experience relief from your symptoms.

Deeper and long-term healing requires addressing the underlying core reason.

In my opinion as a sensitive person, healing and understanding the underlying core reason is paramount to your overall wellbeing.

Healing Anxiety as a HSP

Anxiety as a HSP hits differently...

As a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) anxiety hits your system differently, you feel and experience it on many different levels.

If we think about the basic description of anxiety:

"Distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune"

As we can see even the very basic description tells us that anxiety is based in fear, but is anxiety as a HSP also based in fear?

Could you be experiencing some anxiety that is caused by fear, absolutely, but that is not the whole story…

Anxiety as a HSP comes from many different places and for many different reasons…

As a Highly Sensitive Person your nervous system processes things differently, there is scientific evidence that HSP’s and Empaths are thought to have hyperresponsive mirror neurons.

Deeply resonating with other people’s feelings, emotions, energy and experiences.

Mirror neurons are triggered by outside events…

Causing you to feel and absorb the feelings of other people, not just in your circle, but people you interact with and come across in the external world.

A two-pronged approach is needed...

Anxiety as a HSP has two culprits, your inner world and your outer world and as such, two approaches are also needed.

Inner world approach:

Your inner world is affected by experiences and events you have endured in your life.  Your sensitive nervous system adapts and learns through your experiences, responding in ways to keep you safe.

An easy way to understand this process is ‘fight, flight, and freeze response’.  You may find yourself more prone to one of those responses.

There is a part of your brain called the amygdala, referred to as the emotional centre of your brain.  I like to refer to it as your inner smoke alarm…

When there is a perceived imminent threat your ínner smoke alarm’ will sound to alert you.

Whilst there may not be an actual physical threat, your nervous system is responding from what it has learned from your past unhealed experiences.

The work in your inner world consists of essentially re-training your nervous system and helping it to adapt.

This is done through understanding, healing and addressing past experiences and events that you have endured.

The way in which I help my private clients is to heal their past events, experiences and traumas with EFT Tapping.

I invite you to download my free EFT Tapping guide:

EFT Tapping Guide

A POCKET GUIDE TO TAPPING ON THE GO AND THREE TAPPING SCRIPTS

  1. Tapping for Worry
  2. Tapping for Overwhelm
  3. Tapping for Self-Sabotage


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Outer world approach:

The outer world can affect you through the feelings, emotions and energy you are absorbing from those in the outer world.

As I mentioned there is scientific evidence that HSP’s and Empaths are thought to have hyperresponsive mirror neurons.

Mirror neurons are triggered by outside events…

Your work here is to understand how the outer world and the people in it are affecting you.

As you start to understand the effects of the outer world on your sensitivity, it gives you the opportunity to implement strategies to support your wellbeing.

I invite you to download my free guide:

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I hope is that sharing my personal experience will support you as a highly sensitive person and know there are different pronged ways of coming at your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

How you can work with me privately:

I offer 1-1 private Holistic Counselling that is provided online from the comfort of your home.  Giving you the space you need to uncover what is causing your emotional turmoil.

As a highly sensitive woman and/or empath it is important for you to feel supported and learn more and understand more about your unique gift.

I am passionate about supporting you to move through empathy burnout and thrive as the deeply empathic woman you are.

Book your free virtual coffee chat.

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Your guide: Nicole Ivens

Hi! I'm Nicole.

I am a Professional Counsellor & Certified Clinical EFT Practitioner and Spiritual Teacher.  I share articles to support you in Mind, Body & Soul.  Covering topics such as: Spirituality, Healing & Empowerment.

I also work with clients privately online utilising EFT Tapping to support them on their healing journey.

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