Taking Anxiety With You
My History With Anxiety
Anxiety is by definition an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes. This definition is thrown about everywhere often times coupled with the standard feeling of everyday anxiety. Anxiety is a perfectly normal emotion that every human on the planet feels at one point or another. This isn't about that. I want to share with you my experiences with Anxiety as a disorder, one that like 36.9 percent of people goes untreated.
The first symptoms of my Anxiety disorder manifested themselves when I started middle school. It began in the form of memory issues, I always joked that I had my mothers bad memory and thought nothing of it as did my family. As the years progressed and I moved into high school the symptoms began to pile up; overthinking, insomnia, constant worrying, panic attacks, procrastination. The list goes on. Right around this time is when we diagnosed my depression so we thought, "Aha, so it's all because of that." Bing, bang,boom, the miracle of medication.
When I started the medication it helped with my mood, and not much else. It wasn't until I began therapy in college that together we began to recognize the signs of an Anxiety disorder left untreated for far too long. I thought it was too late though, I was damaged already. It'd already been at least 10 years building to the point that I would get so anxious I'd give myself chest pains. Sometimes I even thought I was having a heart attack. To this day I can't completely get rid of my anxiety. The closest I've gotten is controlling it with careful coping methods.
People often wonder "What are you so worried about?", and I find this to be the worst question ever. Explaining it fully is so difficult I can't even begin to find the words, because I don't understand it completely. I don't want to lie awake at night with hundreds of thoughts to keep me company instead of the back of my eyelids or forget the names of people I've just met. Things make me worry about other things. Money, family, the future, making friends, talking to people, getting a job, being good at what I love. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Talking through it does help in my experience, it can be with a therapist or a parent, maybe even a best friend. In that instance they don't have to understand, they just have to listen. Having someone present and listening can mean a lot in the long run, but that's just me. Maybe writing lists help or reading the same book over and over. Find what works best for you just like I'm trying to.
The Casual Brush-Off
Those of you with these anxiety disorders understand this particular beast of burden, and for those of you who do not..well I hope I can shed a little light in this void. I am not saying all anxiety disorders are alike because that couldn't be further from the truth. Anxiety disorders manifest themselves in many different ways:
- Panic Disorder: A brief or sudden attacks of intense terror and apprehension characterize panic disorder. These panic attacks can last an upwards of 30 minutes depending on the person and appropriate coping methods.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder: This is a chronic disorder involving excessive, long-lasting anxiety and worries about nonspecific life events, objects, and situations. This is the most common form of anxiety disorder.
- Agoraphobia: This is a fear and avoidance of places, events, or situations from which it may be difficult to escape or in which help would not be available if a person becomes trapped.
- Specific Phobias
- Selective Mutism: This is typically a form of disorder that some children will experience where being around a people or places will render them unable to speak.
- Social anxiety disorder, or social phobia: This is a fear of negative judgment from others in social situations or of public embarrassment.
- Separation Anxiety Disorder: Is when a person gets high levels of anxiety after separation from a person or place that provides feelings of security.
These are just the one's we know of and can identify/label. Often times when I've tried to explain to a friend or loved one the depths of my anxiety (Generalized Anxiety in case you were wondering), I'd get the unintentional and casual brush off. They don't do it on purpose, but it's rather difficult to put yourself into the mindset of someone constantly panicking over just about anything.They'd say things like, "There's nothing to be worried about..", "There's no need to be anxious everything's fine" or my favorite "Are you on medication for that?". I label these casual brush offs simply because they aren't malicious, but when I hear them I feel like my pain is being ignored. Yes, I know there's nothing to worry about. I can't help it. I know there's no need to be anxious, I can't turn it off. No I'm not on medication for it.
Bottom Line: Recognize the Signs
I feel as if I left out a lot of parts on this journey. it was a lot harder and more complicated then I can convey with words. I hurt, I cried, I struggled. It's a process. The most I want someone to take from my experience is just the recognize the signs. I'm not saying slap a label on everything with the insistence it's an anxiety disorder. It's only a real problem when it starts to affect nuances of your life, and prevents you from living the life you want. If you think you may have an anxiety disorder just try and see someone or talk to someone. It can help at least a little.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Helpline:
© 2019 Taylor Evans