I don’t remember the exact date of my first panic attack. There wasn’t one life-altering moment where the anxiety all began. Instead, anxiety sort of slowly crept into my life in the form of elevated heart rate, headaches, and my personal favorite (note the sarcasm) – painful stomach aches. According to the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America) I’m not alone – roughly 40 million American adults suffer from various anxiety disorders. So then why doesn’t anyone ever talk about anxiety? Social stigma aside, I think it’s time for us to start treating our mental wellness with the same dedication and care as we do our physical health. So here’s just a small glimpse of what it’s like to live with anxiety.
Anxiety isn’t rational by definition – we know it & we still feel it
Anxiety is classified as an excessive (and sometimes “unnecessary”) level of worry over an event, either real or perceived. Think of a review or a presentation at work: while a normal level of stress is expected, in the mind of the anxious we’re concocting thousands of worst-case scenarios in our head before we even set one foot into the conference room. You can tell us not to worry and that things will go smoothly. You can also tell us to try not to worry about things in the future. We know. And we’re still anxious about it anyway.
Anxiety can elicit physical discomfort
While anxiety is thought to be primarily an issue of the mind (and all the chemicals that come with it), it’s important to realize that anxiety can elicit some pretty painful physical reactions. In my worst moments of anxiety I’ve experienced intense panic attacks – all of which I can only describe as feeling like I have a raccoon sitting on my chest. Yes. A raccoon. A big, furry, fat raccoon sitting on my chest making it incredibly hard for me to breathe.
Anxiety is often calmed by listening, rather than talking or passing judgement
In moments of anxiety it’s often most helpful to have a nonjudgmental listener to talk to. Having a support system and someone to listen can help anxiety pass quickly! Nothing beats feeling loved and heard. What is not needed is a reminder that our anxieties are irrational. Anxiety is real – we feel it, we aren’t crazy, and we could use your love.
Every day living with anxiety is different
Good days and bad days exist for everyone. People living with anxiety have their good days and bad days, too! Some days we are ready for whatever adventure comes at us and other days it feels impossible to even get out of bed. Bad days happen – but they’re important because they make you appreciate the good days. Sometimes it’s okay if all you did for the day was breathe.
Have you experienced anxiety? What makes you anxious?
extra xoxo’s today
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