It’s a weird feeling. To have always been the person who tried to be ‘understanding of people with anxiety issues’ but to never have experienced even a fraction of it yourself. And then, to randomly wake up one day (often, in your twenties) and feel like you’re drowning and quite suddenly unable to breathe or focus or trust that you’re going to be okay.
It’s a weird feeling when – up until this point – you always identified yourself as the carefree person, the person who wasn’t afraid of anything, the person who didn’t think twice about sitting on a crowded train or going to a big party or having your routine switched up or being on an airplane for an extended period of time. The person who was the epitome of ‘chill’ and who could fall asleep anywhere and the one who always seemed to have it together – the one who was always comforting other people and showing them how to let loose and enjoy life.
And now, for some bizarre reason, you’re that person who gets anxious to have company over or to go on a weekend trip with your best friends or the one who is just lying in bed at night feeling scared or crazy or nervous and YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW WHY.
It’s terrifying. To think you would never be the person who had really bad anxiety, and to suddenly be swimming in it.
It’s happened to me. It’s happened to some of my family members. It’s happened to some of my closest friends. And here’s a piece of advice that’s helped me: trying to make sense of it, trying to figure out a reason why this is happening to you, is just going to be a waste of time. Because anxiety doesn’t make any sense.
Anxiety doesn’t have an agenda, anxiety doesn’t have a type. Anxiety doesn’t go after introverts and leave extroverts alone. Anxiety doesn’t set up shop in the brain of a high-strung person and skip over the happy-go-lucky person. Anxiety picks you simply because it picks you, regardless of who you are or what you’re like or how you handle stress and heartbreak and everything in between. Anxiety doesn’t care. Anxiety just makes a home anywhere it can – it cares that you’re a person, and it cares that you have a pulse, and that’s it.
Instead of worrying about why you have it, what you need to worry about is taking care of yourself. You need to learn how to ask for help, you need to learn the best methods for combatting each type of anxiety you experience, you need to read as much as you can about it to help you understand that you are not alone and that SO MANY OTHER PEOPLE deal with this too.
Most of all, you need to focus on learning that anxiety does not make you weak, and it doesn’t make you ‘not you’ anymore.
It’s going to try. Anxiety is really going to try to convince you that you’re not the fun one anymore, or the calm one or the steady one or the accomplished one. It’s going to convince you that nothing will ever get better, that you’re going to spend the rest of your life permanently terrified, that you deserve this and that this is your fault.
But remember that you’re still you, and that while you are fighting this, you’re getting stronger every day. Each little tiny thing that you do says so much more than you realize – getting out of bed is brave, going to work is brave, asking for help is brave, taking a step back when you need to is brave. Existing, in spite of your anxiety, is brave.
You are still you, and you always will be. And although the person you were before this didn’t have to suffer that much, the person you are now is going to show you how strong you truly are.