What are the first things that come to mind when you think of anxiety?
Well, you are not wrong. Those are the usual anxiety symptoms. People survive dangerous, life-threatning panic attacks, they live with their dark, daunting thoughts and they go through life stressing about everything.
But anxiety cannot be properly described with just these four conditions. Anxiety is bigger than panic, attacks, stress and loud, confusing mind.
Anxiety is different for each and every one of us.
I realized this 2 years ago when my brother struggled with this condition. He had a very stressful period in his life. He just started college. And as soon as his new journey started unraveling in front of him, he started panicking. He couldn’t sleep at night, he barely ate and after a certain period, he isolated himself from the world. He didn’t even want to talk to me. At first, everyone, including my parents convinced him that all of that is a normal part of the process. They thought that it’s a teenage phase that everyone’s been through. Can you imagine what their first response was?
“Relax, you are exaggerating.”
“There is nothing wrong with you.”
“Focus on studying and everything will be fine.”
The worst possible advice a person with anxiety can ever get. And from his parents. The people who he thought he can always rely on.
It was too damn difficult. But I don’t blame them. They just didn’t know any better. They lived in a society where one, hard slap on the cheek was the solution for everything. So, to them, panic attacks were an excuse for needing attention. Oh boy, how wrong they were.
The moral of the story is… Yes, anxiety is different for every one of us.
Some may experience it through panic attacks, others through long, sleepless nights and then there are some who struggle with it in the most unusual ways. Ways that would never make you think that the nice, talkative person next to you is going through a nightmare in that exact same moment.
Anxiety is not a flaw and it is not a weakness. Anxiety is a condition that must be acknowledged and properly treated. It can be a stomach ache or a shaky knee. It can be a tapping hand or a bouncing leg. It can feel like anger or frustration. It can make you laughing when you feel like crying or scream like a crazy person. Anxiety can be literally everything.
However, the most important fact about anxiety is that it is a mental illness. Don’t ever forget that! It’s not a weakness, it is not a bad trait and it is certainly not a flaw. Anxiety is a condition and as such, it should be handled with extreme care.
We all deal with some form of it, whether some people like to accept it or not.
If you are someone who struggles with this, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Others may say or do whatever they want, but in the end, you are the only one who knows how it really feels inside of you. Accept yourself, acknowledge your condition and don’t ever let anyone convince that you are exaggerating.
You are a survivor, my dear!