“Learn to calm down the winds of your mind, and you will enjoy greater inner peace.”
Here are the other blogs in this series:
Anxiety and Dyslexia in Adults Part 1 – What is anxiety?
Anxiety and Dyslexia in Adults Part 3 – What you can do about anxiety?
In the last blog, I focused on what anxiety is. Here I want to take time to dive in more on what that can look like for a dyslexic or neurodiverse person. I was told years ago that I was struggling with anxiety, but at the time they didn’t have a lot of tools to help me with it other than therapy. I did that and it was helpful. It never really shifted me into the present moment or showed me what to do the moment when something really flares up my anxiety. So, I have continued to search, learn, and explore along with scientists on the cutting edge of this topic.
It is important to understand what anxiety can look like in others and yourself.
Types of anxiety disorders
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by high levels of stress over day-to-day events and continuous expectations of disaster.
- Social Anxiety
Social anxiety disorder consists of feelings of intense self-consciousness in daily social situations and a fear of being embarrassed.
- Specific Phobias
Specific phobias can be about a wide variety of situations, experiences, and objects. A phobia means that something like heights for example causes anxiety symptoms.
- Panic Disorder
Panic disorders are when a person experiences a strong fear resulting in panic attacks. Panic attacks can include sweating, dizziness, chest pain, heart palpitations, shaking, and feelings of choking.
4.1 Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is defined as an anxiety disorder that centers around repetitive behaviors caused by obsessions and/or compulsions. Obsessions are persistent stressful thoughts while compulsions are frequently repeated behaviors that may aim to address the stress of obsessions.
4.2 Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is defined as an ongoing anxiety disorder brought on by trauma such as experiencing violence, a disaster, etc. Some common symptoms of PTSD are flashbacks, nightmares about the trauma, emotional detachment, mood swings, and jumpiness.
What does anxiety look like?
- Yelling and screaming
- Over explaining
- Giving up before starting something
It is useful to know what anxiety looks like, to be able to support yourself or anyone in your life suffering from it. When anxiety is the reason behind unkind behavior, identifying that fact can allow for the harm caused to be minimized and addressed, and the needs of the person suffering from anxiety to be tended to. Having this transparency around anxiety can greatly improve the quality of relationships for those who are struggling with it or have a partner who is.
Knowing how dyslexia and anxiety combine can enable us to get ahead of some of the negative effects and set up systems to help ourselves or our loved one’s work through those symptoms. For dyslexics, anxiety disorders can cause social isolation, expectations of failure, irritability, shame, self-consciousness of real or perceived weakness, low self-esteem, and fatigue. Planning ahead to support people and mapping out coping mechanisms to help interrupt these symptoms makes a huge difference for people suffering from anxiety.
Many times, someone’s behavior can feel to you like they are being mean, aggressive and a little out of control- which it is. But for them, it might be anxiety turned outward at others.
You might also notice a friend being really self-critical and negative about themselves. That can also be a hint that they are fighting with anxiety.
What does anxiety feel like?
- Physical symptoms can include:
- Shortness of breath, hyperventilation
- Nausea, stomach pain/upset
- Shivering, chills, sweating, hot flashes
- Muscle tension
- Numbness or tingling in hands and feet
- Grinding teeth
- Heart pain and fast or irregular heartbeat
- Trouble concentrating
Anxiety can bring on panic attacks which involve symptoms like shortness of breath, hyperventilation, heart pain, shivering, dizziness, and more. These physical symptoms can build upon the anxiety that brought on the panic attack and last up to 10 minutes. The different physical symptoms can also build on each other. Shortness of breath and hyperventilation can lead to other symptoms like dizziness, derealization, numbness in the hands and feet, and muscle tension. When experiencing symptoms like chest pain or irregular heartbeats, people can have increased panic caused by a fear that they are dying. Because of the intensity of physical panic attack symptoms, it is important to be able to identify a panic attack as it is happening to try and alleviate some of the fear caused by the physical sensations. Panic attacks can be caused by various anxiety disorders including PTSD, social phobia, and panic disorder.
Anxiety causes less acute physical symptoms as well as those that occur during panic attacks. Some of these symptoms include trouble concentrating, grinding teeth, digestive issues, headaches, and muscle tension. These symptoms can be chronic and substantially reduce a person’s quality of life. Anxiety disorders are common in individuals with digestive health issues such as IBS, and the symptoms of both conditions can build on each other. Chronic tooth grinding can lead to dental health issues including wearing through the enamel, while muscle tension can cause chronic pain and mobility issues. Trouble concentrating can lead to emotional consequences like feelings of inadequacy and can interfere with all spheres of life from work to relationships. These chronic symptoms can be hard to identify as symptoms of anxiety because they each have many causes and frequently escalate over time, as opposed to a sudden and severe start like with panic attacks. Because of the more subtle onset of these symptoms, those experiencing them are at risk of dismissing and leaving them unaddressed. It is important to consider the big picture of all the symptoms you are experiencing, and what was going on in your life leading up to when you first noticed them.
What does anxiety do to dyslexics?
When undiagnosed dyslexic children tend to grow up to be adults with anxiety and dyslexia.
Ways that anxiety connected with dyslexia in teens and adults presents itself:
- Spelling problems – increases them
- Difficulty with math – increases it
- Trouble memorizing – more stuff slides out of the memory
- Difficulty reading, including reading aloud
- Difficulty understanding phrases that have more than one meaning
- Finishing reading and writing assignments in an allotted amount of time – This can be helpful for those with ADHD and it is a small group.
- Word recall problems – increases this problem
- Slow reading and writing
- Difficulty summarizing a story – it can be even harder to recall what you just read
- Mispronouncing names or words – even worse than normal
People might also fight with some of the following addictions due to self-medicating using any of the following:
Dyslexia manifests itself differently in everyone. Some people have a mild form of dyslexia that eventually they learn how to manage. Other people have more trouble managing and dealing with it. That is the space where anxiety loves to grow and fester. That space between society’s expectations and the abilities of one’s own DNA.
It is VERY important for anyone with neurodiversity to understand anxiety, how they feel it, how it manifests outwardly, and how to ask people for help managing it. When I work with clients I see it as the gasoline to the fire. When it gets added to a situation typically things don’t improve at that point, they tend to go downhill.
For me, what I have learned about myself is that anger is the go-to for my anxiety.
Here are some examples:
>Something not going the way I want it to…I get angry.
>Did someone give me directions to edit their website as three printed pages of text? Anger.
>We have an upcoming workshop this weekend and you just sent me a 100-page book to read, that is not available as an audio book? Anger.
The greatest tool I was able to use to change my fight with anxiety has been Positive Intelligence (PQ). That is why I have taken the certification program and why I added PQ to all of my coaching with clients. If you don’t address the anxiety the anxiety controls you and your neurology, and it doesn’t have to be such a fight every day.
Please jump over to Part 3 in this series to learn more about what you can easily do to release the anxiety and free your emotions and brain.
Business Owner, International Neurodiversity Coach, and Speaker