Living with Anxiety … is hell! It’s not a matter of being negative, it is just how it feels especially in the initial stages when you have no clue of what the heck is happening to you! But eventually, we learn to make the flames bearable.
My simplified definition of anxiety, from a first-hand sufferer, is
ANXIETY = Fear + Restlessness
i.e. fear of the unknown which leads to insecurity, resulting in a head full of negative thoughts and ‘what if’ questions, that causes uncontrollable excitement in the body. This means that anxiety impacts both the mind and body, leaving the individual exhausted.
So how does it really feel?
Mentally it feels draining. The head is foggy, and it’s difficult focusing on tasks. Physically it feels devastating. A lump sits in the stomach making it difficult to breath, headaches become a daily habit, armpits gets sweaty even if it is not hot, and feet start ticking nervously at their own tempo. Suddenly you’re all over the place, and you cannot get yourself to carry out normal daily activities (this is went it gets really rough).
In reality, we all worry sometimes, but the difference with anxious minds is that their worries are excessive, constant and generally irrational. Despite realizing that our thoughts and fears may not make sense, we find it difficult controlling our inhibitions. Our head gets the best of ourselves. We feel like we are in danger all the time, over-analyzing everything , adopting a ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ reaction.
What makes it really painful is wanting to be free from the overall agitation manifested in the body, because it feels bad and tiring, but yet it’s so damn difficult to control and it’s a skill that needs to be learned over time. It is when we sleep that MAYBE we manage to ‘switch off’ and feel at ease (IF we manage to sleep at all cause sometimes we are so restless that we have sleepless nights).
Despite the fact that anxiety can be treated and tamed, it is a process that takes time; trial and error as to what works for the proper individual. Thus, in the process of all this learning, anxious people lose friendships and relationships; why? Because we are misunderstood! We are given labels like ‘drama queens’, ‘playing the victim’, or described as ‘too heavy’. We often hear the words “What’s the big deal? Relax Madoff!” Surely it’s easier said then done, since you are not the one feeling helpless, lost and overwhelmed because you are eaten up by constant fear.
It’s okay! We get over being misunderstood. But it is traumatic losing people because of a disorder we don’t actually want on ourselves, that we are still struggling to master but needs patience and support. It doesn’t help when we are left alone, because it makes us feel unworthy of love and acceptance, which is the fulcrum of humanity.
With this said, I truly reach out to all those struggling with anxiety disorders, because I know, from first-hand experience, how low it can get, how painful it is, and how much strength and discipline is needed to control the head! You are not alone and there are millions of people feeling just like you and me.
Finally, acknowledging anxiety and embracing it as part of your life is the first step towards feeling better.
ANXIETY DOES NOT DEFINE YOU!