I think, on some level, I have always suffered from minor anxiety. However, as I’ve mentioned before, 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’re all experienced it on a minor level: confronting your crush and your heart is on fire, waiting for their response. Preparing for an exam you aren’t sure you can pass. Going for your driver’s license – you know you can drive well, but the moment someone said ‘test’, your palms started sweating.
Anxiety plagues everyone – usually, for most, in fleeting, minor doses.
However, for those like me, anxiety is neither fleeting nor minor.
Here are five ways anxiety is worse than you think.
1. Basic Tasks Are Harder To Complete Than You’d Think
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, to go – instead I have my groceries delivered (yay for the 21st century and first world problems!).
The only connection I can make (in regards to my fear) to grocery shopping is that once an ex-friend verbally attacked me whilst I was shopping. Despite no longer living in the same town, it wasn’t the first time I was attacked whilst out in a public area. Perhaps the grocery store has just become a conditioned response.
Regardless, my point is that seemingly simple, every-day tasks, can be so much harder to perform than you think.
Imagine the most anxiety-ridden moment you’ve ever faced. The clenching in your stomach as you fear the unknown; the increase in your heartrate that makes you feel as though your last breath is being stolen from your body; the overwhelming desire to be sick or to faint (or both).
That’s just the beginning of how it feels to complete some of the most basic every day when you suffer from a severe anxiety disorder.
Imagine feeling like that – and worse – every single day.
2. You Want To Be With Friends … At The Same Time You Want To Be Alone
I can’t tell you how many times I simultaneously want to go out with friends … and be left alone.
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.
But imagine how confusing it is for the people that actually feel this way and can’t understand why.
3. But What If People Don’t Like Me?
One of the biggest fears that I have is that my anxiety will have a negative impact on my friendships. Like I said in Five Ways Being Chronically Ill Is Worse Than You Think, I’ve already lost people I assumed were good friends – some of which 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 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 that 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. Panic Attacks
Panic attacks are very real, and very serious.
It’s important to remember that panic attacks are different for everyone.
Sometimes I sit and cry and struggle to breathe so much I literally vomit.
Sometimes I stop talking. Literally. I make no sounds, no noises. I go blank. I can barely hear if someone is talk 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. It’s a harsh fact but people judge what they don’t understand.
This includes people who have anxiety, or have had or have had anxiety (more the latter than the former).
When people overcome something as serious as an anxiety disorder, they sometimes have a tendency to want to help by telling others how to overcome theirs. Sometimes, during this process, they forget how hard it was themselves, or that 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 anxiety and overcoming anxiety isn’t easy. The process is different for everyone.
For some, medication and/or therapy works.
For others, they swear by a change in diet and exercise.
For a few, nothing really seems to work, and 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.
But you also need to be open to the fact that what worked for a few doesn’t mean it works for everyone.
And, more importantly, if you don’t suffer from anxiety, try not to judge what you don’t understand.