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5 Ways Anxiety Is Worse Than You Think

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I think, on some level, I have always experienced minor anxiety. However, due to a bout of unfortunate circumstances, I ended up with clinical depression and a severe anxiety disorder. Anxiety, on any level, is not an easy cross to bear. I’m sure you’ve all experienced it on a minor level, too.

Maybe you experience something like confronting your crush. Your heart was on fire, waiting for his response. Perhaps, you experience anxiety while preparing for an exam you aren’t sure you can pass or maybe when you went for your driver’s license. You knew you could drive well, but the moment someone said “test,” your palms started sweating.

Anxiety plagues all of us at one point. For most people, it is fleeting and in minor doses. However for those like me, anxiety is neither fleeting nor minor. For those who don’t know much about anxiety, here are five ways anxiety is worse than you think.

1. Basic tasks are harder to complete.

For me, sometimes leaving the house is a struggle. For some reason, I’ve come to fear the grocery store. I don’t know why, but I find it hard, if not impossible. Instead, I have my groceries delivered. (Yay for the 21st century and first world problems!)

The only connection I can make to grocery shopping (in regards to my fear) is that once an ex-friend verbally attacked me while I was shopping. Despite no longer living in the same town as those people, it wasn’t the first time I was attacked while out in a public area. Perhaps I’ve developed a conditioned response to the grocery store. Regardless, seemingly simple, everyday tasks can be so much harder to perform than you may think.

Imagine the most anxiety-ridden moment you’ve ever faced. The clenching in your stomach as you fear the unknown. The increased heart rate that makes you feel as though your last breath is being stolen from your body. The overwhelming desire to be sick, to faint or both. That’s just the beginning of how it feels to complete some of the most basic everyday tasks when you have a severe anxiety disorder. Imagine feeling like that and worse every single day.

2. You want to be with friends while simultaneously wanting to be alone.

I can’t tell you how many times I want to go out with friends and be left alone at the same time — at the exact same time. I want my friends to come to my house because in my mind my house is “safe.” Yet, at the same time, I hate it because I can’t fudge some excuse about wanting to leave early when everything becomes too much. I get it. It’s confusing. Imagine how confusing it is for the people who actually feel this way and can’t understand why.

3. You wonder and fear if people don’t like you.

One of the biggest fears I have is that my anxiety will have a negative impact on my friendships. Like I said in “5 Ways Being Chronically Ill Is Worse Than You Think,” I’ve already lost people I assumed were good friends. Some of whom I loved dearly. As a result, I’m often scared to speak out.

What if I’m judged the way I was before? Will people view me differently? Will they judge me when they discover I struggle to go the store, let alone do anything else? Will I lose even more friends? I’ve had some amazing people stand by me. Some of the people who abandoned me surprised me just as much as those who stayed. Regardless, it makes you question everything and everyone. If you’re the person on the receiving end, try not to take it to heart. It’s the anxiety speaking, not necessarily the person.

4. Anxiety brings along panic attacks.

Panic attacks are very real and very serious. It’s important to remember panic attacks are different for everyone. Sometimes, I sit and cry, and I struggle to breathe so much I literally vomit. Sometimes, I stop talking. I make no sounds, no noises. I go blank. I can barely hear if someone is talking to me. I don’t respond. I go completely numb. Panic attacks are different for everyone and can strike at any time, for any reason.

5. People judge what they don’t understand.

People will judge you. Even the sincerest and most meaningful people will judge you at different times. Even if they’re incredibly supportive and try their hardest not to, people will judge you. It’s a harsh fact, but people tend to judge what they don’t understand.

This includes people who have anxiety or have had anxiety (more the latter than the former). When people overcome something as serious as an anxiety disorder, they sometimes have a desire to want to help by telling others how to overcome their anxiety (which, of course, is respectable and kind). Sometimes, however, during this process, they forget how hard it was themselves. They forget everyone is different.

The reason behind a person’s anxiety is different for everyone. Some people have reasons. Some people have triggers. Some people don’t. It’s important to understand even when you don’t actually understand, that overcoming anxiety isn’t easy. The process is different for everyone. For some, medication and/or therapy works. Others swear by a change in diet and exercise. For a few, nothing really seems to work. They have to take everything day by day.

If you’ve overcome your anxiety disorder, I’m incredibly happy for you. I’m also open to suggestions in regards to what helped you, but you also need to be open to the fact that what worked for a few doesn’t mean work for everyone. More importantly, if you don’t struggle with anxiety, try not to judge what you don’t understand.

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Originally published: August 17, 2016
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