No, I Can't Just 'Push Through' My Social Anxiety
Anyone who has experienced anxiety or who lives with anxiety will be able to tell you how restricting it can be. Anyone will tell you how hard it can be to control, and do things in spite of the anxiety.
Sometimes when I tell people about my anxiety, people like to give me advice on how to fix it. It’s always well meaning, but a lot of the time they don’t realize their “advice” is harming more than helping.
The most common piece of advice I get is that I have to “push through” in spite of the anxiety. Even though I feel anxious, just do the thing anyway. Sounds easy enough right? Just do it anyway.
I can tell you there are times when I do have to do things in spite of my anxiety. But sometimes, it’s not possible.
Sometimes, anxiety is a pile of stones by my feet. They are a slight inconvenience, but I can step over them. Other times it is a wall waist high, and it takes more effort to climb over. Sometimes I have the energy to make it over, sometimes I don’t.
Sometimes anxiety is a wall higher than my eyes can see, and I can’t even see the top, much less figure out how to overcome it.
The thing is, pushing through anxiety is tiring, exhausting work. Not just emotionally. The physical symptoms of anxiety can actually make me feel tired — beating heart, racing thoughts — it takes energy to do something that might cause those sensations. I also struggle with depression, so my energy levels are already pretty low at times. Some days I simply do not have the energy to push through.
What you don’t see is the little things I have to do daily that cause me to feel anxious, the little piles of rocks I step over daily. Some days I will step over many piles of rocks, so when a bigger, waist-high wall presents itself, I have no more energy left to get over it.
It’s important to remember that your pile of rocks, your waist-high wall, your wall that you can’t even see the top of, won’t always look the same as what mine looks like. What is a pile of rocks for you, or simply flat ground, easy to walk over, might look like a wall to me. What is easy for you might not be easy for me.
Unsplash photo via Artur Rutowski