I wanted to write about it sooner, but I couldn’t. Admitting that I suffer from anxiety is not something I like doing. I’ve always been considered as a strong, independent woman. And by saying I suffer from anxiety out loud, makes me question this strength and independence.
Despite these feelings, I know it’s okay to suffer from anxiety; I know I’m okay. I got the help I needed and learned to cope better. But it doesn’t mean it is always easy. Especially when people don’t understand what happens inside an anxious mind.
Here are a few things I would like people (who don’t suffer from anxiety) to know:
1. WE KNOW IT’S IRRATIONAL, BUT THAT DOESN’T MAKE IT ANY LESS REAL FOR US
Most of the time the things we worry about, don’t happen – and we know this. But just because there is no actual reason to stress about certain things, doesn’t make the fear any less real. We fret about things that can go wrong or what someone have said to us.
The thing about anxiety is that you know it’s not a big deal and that it should roll off your shoulder. But that’s when the disorder kicks in: that small thing starts growing in your head and floods your chest; drowning your rational thoughts. And there’s nothing more frustrating than being told by someone to ‘get over it’ in the midst of your panic. Give us time.
2. ANXIETY AFFECTS OUR MIND AND BODY
It’s difficult to give a clear-cut description of how an anxiety attack feels, as everyone experiences it differently. But it comes down to your body convincing you that something terrible is about to happen.
At that moment when you’re completely gripped, you can barely breathe, your heart rate quickens, you feel hot, and you wish you could run away from everything and everyone. It physically hurts and you feel you have no control over your body.
3. DECISIONS ARE DIFFICULT FOR US
Given how our bodies react, people experiencing anxiety prefer to avoid the situation that’s causing the problem. So when it comes to making that decision, we become extremely indecisive because we’re pulled between what society expects from us and what we want at that moment.
4. IT’S NOT YOUR JOB TO FIX US
You can’t make people with anxiety more functional or less anxious. So pep talks trying to convince us to do things we don’t want to do aren’t going to work. Usually, when someone tries this, they don’t fully understand what anxiety does to a person.
At the end of the day, you being there is all we need. Nothing more. And if you really want to say something, “I’m here” will do.
5. WE’RE NOT WEAK, WE’RE PROGRAMMED DIFFERENTLY
People suffering from anxiety are actually coping with more than the average person. They get criticised by others who struggle to see the bigger picture; who think we’re being dramatic and making our own lives difficult.
Just because we react differently in certain situations, doesn’t make us wrong or broken. The way we cope with this thing we call life doesn’t have only one way or method, and it doesn’t have to.