What Anxiety Actually Is – This Has Been on My Mind a Lot Recently
Everyone talks about anxiety. It seems like I can’t spend five minutes on the internet without it coming up. It’s as though our society has recently become inflicted with massive mental health issues, and to be honest, I used to be someone who saw all those articles, rolled my eyes, and took two seconds to think about the fact those people should be getting help for their issues instead of wallowing in a state of victimness.
That was, until I started having massive anxiety issues, and realized that my previous depressive episodes weren’t as gone as I thought they were.
I’ve seen so many things about anxiety out there, and chances are, you have too. I scroll past post after post with titles like Dating Someone With Anxiety, How I Cope With My Anxiety, or I Can’t Help My Anxiety so Don’t Blame me. So I get it. We see it everywhere. It’s brought up again and again and again until you want to stop paying attention because it seems like nothing more than the newest trend.
But here’s my theory: people post so much about anxiety because they’re desperate to be heard, to have people understand just a little bit of what their world feels like, because to them, they’re all alone. So they make posts on social media, reblog article after article in hopes that someone will get it, but in the end, it’s like they’re screaming out in the middle of a party, and not a single person turns to pay them any mind. Such goes the cycle of emptiness.
I’m here to share what my anxiety and depression look like in case there are those out there who feel alone, unheard, and terrified. Maybe by reaching out to each other and sharing our experiences, we can come together to support each other, instead of continuing to try to shout louder than anyone else around.
And, in the spirit of complete transparency, I’m writing this minutes after I had to force myself out of a panic attack all alone because I couldn’t breathe. So here goes:
Anxiety is lying in bed until 6am because you can’t sleep, waking back up at 8am, and staying in bed until 2pm because your blankets feel safer than the rest of the world.
Anxiety is having a good day until a random intrusive thought tells you otherwise, and you can’t do anything but believe it.
Anxiety is living your life as though you had an imaginary friend following you around everywhere, and whispering negativity into your ears. It’s ‘you look terrible, no one likes you, you’re obnoxious, you’re alone, you’re having a terrible day, your life means nothing,’ constantly. And it never really stops.
Anxiety is having to hold back tears on the bus because you’re suddenly panicking about which door you’re going to take to get off. If you even get to the stop. Are you supposed to press the button? But it’s all the way on the other side — and then feeling dumb because you’ve ridden the bus a hundred times before.
Anxiety is constantly second guessing every decision you make. Maybe I shouldn’t have started dating him. I know we’ve been together for a year now, but maybe I made a mistake. I can’t really do anything about now because it was so long ago but what if–
Anxiety is maybe I don’t actually like him. Oh gosh, what if I don’t like him? What if I just think I do? What am I going to–
Anxiety is panicking about getting up and going to work even though you’ve been doing that every day for the past three years.
Anxiety is worrying that everyone’s going to hate you because you keep cancelling plans on them.
Anxiety is getting emotional about the dumbest things, while you’re completely aware that they’re ridiculously stupid. But it doesn’t matter because suddenly you’re panicking about whether or not you can get your clothes washed that day, and it’s all downhill from there.
Anxiety is crying until you’re getting both snot and saliva all over your newly washed sheets.
Anxiety is the exhaustion, headaches, and fear of constant breakdowns, but still not being able to sleep or relax.
Anxiety is a constant battle between wanting to be open with people about how you’re doing, scared that you always seem too dramatic, and feeling embarrassed by your entire existence.
Anxiety is going to a restaurant and then puking your guts out in the toilet when you get home because constant stress and eating don’t go very well together.
Anxiety is not being about to have alcohol when you go out with friends, because you’re too scared it’s going to bring back all your miseries and fears
Anxiety is constantly living on edge, as if your life could end at any second. And often, it feels like it does.
Anxiety is hating yourself.
Anxiety is telling people that you’re overly stressed and having them ask you, “What do you have to be anxious about? Your life’s great.”
Anxiety is knowing that absolutely nothing’s going to be able to make you feel better, and the best you can do is distract yourself.
Anxiety is constantly feeling alone and unheard. Like you’re drowning in the middle of the ocean and no one can hear you struggling no matter how loud you yell.
Anxiety is not being able to breathe.
Anxiety is counting to one hundred seven times in a row in order to distract yourself from the temptation of doing something stupid. Like overdosing on Tylenol or finding the best way to make yourself bleed.
Anxiety is checking your phone ten times when you’re in the middle of a panic attack just in case one of your friends somehow picked up on your misery and want to make sure you’re okay. And then being let down and even more terrified when there’s no notifications there.
Anxiety is tangling your fingers in your hair as you tell the voices in your head to aptly shut up. Then it’s feeling like you’re absolutely insane and being tempted to go and lock yourself up in some institution on the spot.
Anxiety is the constant feeling that something is inherently wrong with you, and the question of ‘why can’t I just be like normal people?’
Anxiety is being terrified of yourself. While feeling like a complete idiot 95% of the time.
Anxiety is being scared when friends cancel plans because now you have to be alone and one of your distractions is gone.
Anxiety is not being able to do anything but wrap yourself up like a burrito in a blanket and try to zone out the world because it’s too much for you to handle.
Anxiety is feeling fine one moment, and a second later, feeling like the entire world’s ending.
Anxiety is the constant fear that everyone around you is going to realize that you’re as stupid and uptight as you know you are.
Anxiety is having a good few days but knowing that the happiness isn’t going to last.
Anxiety is needing to go on medication, but hating yourself because of that. And then being terrified that the doctor isn’t going to give you any because he thinks you’re just exaggerating.
Anxiety is knowing you’re ruining relationships but not being able to do anything about it.
Anxiety is staying up and having a panic attack in your room while you listen to your roommates having fun somewhere else in the house.
Anxiety is being an assistant manager and starting your own businesses at 20. But feeling like your entire life is falling apart and you’re destined to go nowhere because you’re such a mess. Even though everyone else just sees you as if you’ve got it all put together.
And that’s just the start of what anxiety is like for me. I end up going through most of these things every day, and I consider it a success if I only have to deal with one or two at any given time. It’s a constant. You can go to therapy, take medication, meditate, or find other ways of coping, but it always seems to be there, looming in the background, and now matter how hard you try to shake it, you can’t.
So again, in the spirit of community and complete transparency here, what is anxiety like for you? Let’s support each other through this, yeah?