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This Is What My Anxiety Feels Like

There’s a misconception that anxious people are antisocial, short-fused or overdramatic. But they’re most likely processing everything around them so intensely that they can’t handle a lot of questions, people or heavy information all at once.” – Katie Crawford

Anxiety can be debilitating. It feels like a constant heaviness in your mind, like something isn’t quite right, even though you don’t know exactly what that something is. It feels like acid in your stomach, burning and eating away at the emptiness and taking away any feelings of hunger. It’s like a tight knot that you can’t untwist.

Anxiety can feel like your mind is on fire, overthinking and overanalyzing every little, irrelevant thing. Sometimes it makes you feel restless and constantly distracted. It can feel as if your thoughts are running wild in a million different directions, bumping into each other along the way. Other times, it can make you feel detached, as if your mind has gone blank and you are no longer mentally present. You dissociate and feel as if you have left your own body.

Anxiety feels like there’s a voice in the back of your mind telling you that everything is not OK, when everything in fact is. Sometimes the voice tells you there’s something wrong with you and that you’re different from everybody else. It tells you your feelings are bad and a burden to the world and that you should isolate. It can make everyday tasks, such as making simple decisions, incredibly difficult.

Anxiety can keep you up at night, tossing and turning. It’s like a light bulb that comes on at the most inconvenient times and won’t switch off. Your body feels exhausted, but your mind feels wide-awake and racing. You go through the events of your day, analyzing and agonizing over every specific detail.

Anxiety is a liar, although it feels incredibly real. Listening to it won’t make it go away. You’re not different from everyone else or a burden. Your feelings are as important as everyone else’s. You experience anxiety, but you are not your anxiety. Don’t let this psychological disorder define you. With the right help, it can be manageable.

A couple years ago, I would get panic attacks before oral presentations and my grades would suffer because of it. After years of working with my therapist on ways to best manage and face my anxieties, I was able to take a public speaking class and end up with an A. Constantly exposing yourself to your anxieties in a safe place, such as a therapist’s office, is key to working through them. I also learned the importance of taking care of myself — exercising regularly, practicing positive affirmations, meditating and getting enough sleep.

This post originally appeared on Liv Light.

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