This piece was written by Richard Lucas, a Thought Catalog contributor.
1. Constantly feeling on the brink of death.
The truth is that we are not literally on the brink of death; in reality, we are quite safe. Nonetheless, our minds believe with great certainty each breath may be our last. When our brain believes, it becomes our reality. The feeling is real, and it’s something no person should have to experience.
2. Feeling like a “crazy” person.
Because the “reasonable” side of us knows we’re being irrational, it feels like we’re going “crazy.” Once we accept the anxiety and learn to manage it, we can accept this is a real illness. Having anxiety does not mean you are crazy.
3. Having nobody else know how you feel.
Because anxiety can manifest in so many different ways, it’s easy to believe that nobody else can possibly be feeling this way. It’s an extremely isolating feeling. The good news is that you are not alone. Now more than ever people are opening up about their anxiety, and if you do the same, I guarantee you will find someone who knows exactly how you are feeling.
4. Worrying any mild physical symptom means you have a terminal illness.
A headache means a brain tumor. Stomach ache? Cancer. Sore after the gym? Certainly a rare muscular deficiency that will leave you with only six months to live. Sounds a bit dramatic, but for those who have health anxiety, this is a daily grind consumed by a lot of worrying and a tremendous amount of Googling symptoms. Stay away from the search engines; if you have a real concern, go to a doctor. Self-diagnosis is never a good idea.
5. Only feeling safe at home.
For some, we simply cannot feel safe unless we are at home. Many have lost their jobs and relationships because they simply can’t leave the house. This can turn into debilitating agoraphobia and should be treated immediately.
6. Endless fear.
Fear is a natural feeling that puts your body on alert when you are in danger. It’s also a terrible feeling, and people who have chronic anxiety and panic know this feeling can consume them day in and day out. Imagine a time in your life when you have been truly terrified. Now imagine feeling like that every day. Welcome to anxiety.
7. Becoming a regular at the emergency room.
The nurses recognize you the moment you walk in and already know why you’re there. You know exactly what to expect, how long it will take and what the prognosis will be. But yet we go back again and again. Something about a clean EKG settles the panicked mind.
8. Medication, lots of medication.
We need it, and we hate that we need it. We long for the day when we won’t need to rely on these pills to get through life. We cart our drugs around as if we’ll die without them. If we forget them, all bets are off. Their absence alone will send us into panic mode.
9. Going to the doctor just to talk.
You call the appointment line, they ask what you need to be seen for, and you say just to check up. The person sounds confused because it’s the fourth checkup you’ve had in the past three months. Really all you want to do is talk and be told that you’re OK.
10. People rolling their eyes when your anxiety prevents you from doing something.
Nothing is worse than when you legitimately can’t go through with something because of your anxiety, and some person who doesn’t understand and is completely devoid of empathy rolls their eyes at you and say’s something along the lines of, “Oh, whatever, you’ll be fine.” These are not the kind of people a person with anxiety should surround themselves with. Begone, ye un-empathetic naysayers — we’re having anxiety here.
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