I really am not one to open up and talk about my anxiety disorder, something that I have dealt with since I was just 8 years old. However, I came across a Facebook post the other day that made me want to talk about some important facts regarding anxiety disorder. This particular post was talking about how people tend to just diagnose themselves with anxiety because they have felt a wave of anxiousness or are going through a stressful time in their life.
First and foremost, anxiety is an actual mental disorder. I don’t think a lot of people truly believe that. Yes, the word anxiety can also be described as an emotion that EVERYONE deals with every so often while under high stress or nervousness. But having anxiety and experiencing the emotion every once in a while is not the same thing.
Having anxiety disorder is not just getting nervous for a job interview, or having so much to do in one day that your head feels like it’s going to explode. Do those things cause some anxiousness? Yes. But it is not nearly the same thing as what someone dealing with anxiety disorder goes through on a daily basis.
Let me give you an idea of just a few of the things that happen to someone who actually deals with anxiety disorder:
1. Panic attacks happen at the most random of times, even sometimes if you’re just sitting on the couch doing absolutely nothing remotely stressful with nothing on your mind at all. And I’m talking like full-on, can’t breathe, panic attacks. You ever come close to drowning? That’s pretty much what it feels like.
2. Thinking about the absolute worst case scenario in almost any situation, even minor ones. For example, when you can’t get a hold of someone via phone – you immediately think that something awful has happened to them and immediately start panicking.
3. Throwing up. Yes, throwing up more than the average person is normal when you have anxiety. I can’t tell you how many times I have thrown up from anxiety. Panic attacks can lead to throwing up, diarrhea, passing out, feeling lightheaded, leaving you unable to breathe, and sometimes even thinking that you are actually having a heart attack. I can’t even tell you how many stories I have heard about people who went to the ER thinking they were having a heart attack, but really it was just an anxiety attack. My dad being one of them. Panic attacks and anxiety disorder are no joke.
4. Developing nervous tics: biting nails, shaking leg/foot, blinking more, clearing your throat, etc.
5. Dwelling on every little situation that happens and beating yourself up over it, sometimes for multiple days, comparing yourself to others and feeling down about yourself.
6. Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night.
7. Never being able to feel relaxed. Having a rapid heart rate, sweaty/clamy palms, headaches, numb hands/fingers/feet, aching muscles, feeling shaky, etc. become the norm.
Now, as I mentioned above, those seven things are just a very few of the things that people with anxiety disorder experience. It’s not a joke and it’s not fair for people who have never experienced it to just diagnose themselves with anxiety because they have had a stressful event occur in their life.
I don’t mean to sound harsh in any way, but it’s not something that I take lightly because I have suffered from this disorder for 14 years and it’s not easy. I wouldn’t wish it on my absolute worst enemy.