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This Is How I Would Explain My Anxiety

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I’ve had anxiety for about a year and a half. I’ve learned who I am in my anxiety and what my triggers are. It was not until I started working in an environment where people weren’t really familiar and supportive of someone with anxiety that I learned the best ways of explaining it.

This is how I would explain anxiety:

Imagine a moment when you were overwhelmed. Why were you overwhelmed? Imagine how you felt and how bad you wanted to feel OK and in control again. Now imagine a moment when you were stressed out. Why were you stressed? Imagine how much you wanted everything to run smoothly again. How much you wanted whatever was stressing you out to just be right or fixed so you wouldn’t be stressed out anymore. Lastly, imagine a time you were worried. Why were you worried? What or who were you worrying about?

Anxiety is feeling overwhelmed, worried and stressed all at the same time. But anxiety doesn’t always have to have a reason. The “why?” is sometimes unanswerable. Sometimes you can figure out what the trigger is and manage your anxiety better, but that’s not the case all the time. And when it comes to panic attacks, letting them pass is the best bet. Don’t try to control a panic attack in the midst of it happening. I find that to be more stressful than just sitting and trying to gain control again. In times of panic, it’s best to find a space to relax and let it pass.

Anxiety isn’t just overthinking or being overwhelmed either. It’s overthinking and believing whatever assumptions and accusations your mind is telling you, stressing out about it and then becoming overwhelmed after.

Anxiety is like feeling something spewing in your stomach then slowly feeling it manifesting itself as panic, however that looks for the person.

Anxiety for me has been interesting. I get two types of anxiety. The first one is feeling nauseous. I feel nauseous when I’m not aware of the exact root of my anxiety. When I’m nauseous, there’s most likely a plethora of reasons for my anxiety (school, money, family, work etc.) and this type of anxiety can last a really long time. The longest this type of anxiety has gone for me has been several weeks. The second type of anxiety is the gut feeling of direct nervousness. It’s kind of like stage fright fear, except it lasts longer and most likely leads to a panic attack along the road. Panic attacks look different depending on the situation. Sometimes it comes out as tears and uncontrolled crying, blanking out, long periods of nausea (my first type of anxiety is like a prolonged panic attack) or not being able to calm my nerves (shaking hands, heavy breathing, chest pains).

I’m glad I’m learning to deal and manage with all these different forms my anxiety takes. Although at times I get embarrassed and ashamed, especially when other people look at me like I’m crazy and exagerating (I wish I was), I still seem to get past those hard moments and push through every situation I come across.

If you have anxiety, you’re not crazy and I hope you find ways to deal with it that are healthy and help you come closer to healing.

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 Thinkstock photo via DeirdreRusk

Originally published: October 12, 2017
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