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Anxiety Is So Much More Than Just Feeling Anxious

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Anxiety is a serious and life-altering mental illness.

Feeling anxious is just that: a feeling.

Anxiety shows up in people all around the world, but not in all the same ways. Anxiety doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if you’re young or old, if you’re one ethnicity or another. It does not care who you are or what you’ve done in your life. Some people get the side of anxiety that still causes them to change things in their life, and for others, anxiety shows up as this monster, ready to do whatever they can to ruin your life.

For me, anxiety is this shadow that is always there. You cannot always see it but it is there, following me around, waiting for things in my life to happen so it can find ways to bring me down to the ground with it.

Sometimes, anxiety is this river ending in a waterfall. You are sitting in the boat — we’ll call it life — and no matter how hard you paddle away from the waterfall, the current pushes you further and further toward it until you fall because it knows it’s a lot harder to get up after you’ve fallen such a long way. Anxiety can be like this little guy on your shoulder, like in movies where you have a devil or bad guy on one shoulder and an angel or a good guy on the other, except anxiety is just the bad guy. Every little thing you do, it sits there upon your shoulder telling you lies and making things seem so much worse than they need to be.

People who struggle with anxiety do get anxious, but anxiety does so much more than just that.

Anxiety can be living every day of your life in fear of the worst possible outcome happening.

Anxiety can be this overwhelming fear you will never be good enough for anyone, no matter how hard you try.

Anxiety can be a million thoughts and worries running through your head the second you open your eyes in the morning.

Anxiety can be never saying much to people in fear of saying the wrong thing.

Anxiety can be this constant worry about the future or things that happened in the past.

Anxiety can be being unable to sleep because you cannot stop the hundreds of millions of thoughts running through your head.

Anxiety can be getting headaches all the time because you’re thinking about too much, and when you try to put your attention to anything else, it causes your head to not be able to handle it.

Anxiety can be overthinking the smallest situations even when it is something as small as someone didn’t wave back when you waved to them this morning when leaving your neighborhood.

Anxiety can be jumping to the worst possible conclusions about everything you think, say and do.

Anxiety can be being unable to focus on anything because there is too much other stuff to worry about.

Anxiety can cause your heart to race in situations that aren’t intense or aren’t scary for people without anxiety.

Anxiety can be being unable to eat because of the constant uneasy feeling in your stomach from worrying about every little thing in life.

Anxiety can be avoiding eye contact with people wherever you go because you have this fear that if you make eye contact with them, they will be able to see right through you and see everything you believe is “wrong” with you.

Anxiety can be feeling overwhelmed while doing the simplest of tasks like laundry or making dinner.

Anxiety can be feeling as though you are unable to relax no matter what you do because you cannot calm the thoughts running wild through your head.

Anxiety can be feeling startled any time someone comes up to you without warning and just lightly taps on your shoulder to get your attention.

Anxiety can be feeling tense all the time as if something bad is always going to happen.

Anxiety can be unwilling to open up to others due to the feeling they will be judged for the way they feel.

Anxiety can be judging yourself and being your own worst critic, which leads to believing a ton of untrue thoughts about yourself.

Anxiety can consume your thoughts, which in turn takes so much away from you and your life when you’re unable to think of anything but that which makes you anxious.

Anxiety can affect your social life and make you feel as though you don’t even know how to act around people.

Anxiety can be feeling unable to get anything done because there are other things to worry about instead.

Anxiety can be feeling indecisive over simple choices like what color shirt to wear because you cannot stop thinking about how people will judge you or see you based on what you wear.

Anxiety can be worrying about how much you’re worrying which just causes a vicious and never-ending cycle of worry.

Anxiety can be irrational fears about things you cannot control which causes you to avoid those situations, which in turn can cause you to miss out on so much of what life has to offer.

Anxiety can interfere with everything and anything in your life. It can affect your ability to function as person. Anxiety is a continuous and constant battle with yourself. It is something that makes you have to change the way you live. Anxiety is hard and it doesn’t ever really go away. Anxiety is feeling anxious, but to the point where it affects you in more ways than anything should. Feeling anxious or nervous or stressed occasionally is normal and it sometimes motivates us to get things done. But, having an anxiety disorder can change how you feel about yourself, how you see yourself and the things you do (and don’t do) with your life. Anxiety doesn’t give up; you have to give it your all to get up and fight it every day, but it cannot control you if you don’t let it. Let the anxiety be a part of you if you want, but do not let it become you.

Photo by Charles Etoroma on Unsplash

Originally published: May 3, 2019
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