Anxiety. The word itself brings to mind a macabre of terrible thoughts and feelings for those who suffer in its snares. It kicks and twists at the core of stability once thought strong. A year and so many months have passed since I had the terrible pleasure of meeting anxiety and the many facets that come along with it. I can definitely say this a demon that takes some getting used to. At the same time, it seems one can never get used to feeling this way.
I was in my living room, simply watching TV, when suddenly the sensation hit me. I thought something terrible was going to happen to me. There was a rush of adrenaline accompanied by an urge in the back of my mind, alerting me that I needed to get out. I didn’t care where, I just needed to be outside. I ran out, pacing back and forth in tears, worrying that this might be some sort of heart attack or worse. My feelings were aflame with panic and intense fear that I had never felt before. Thoughts ran through my mind like a hurricane.
What would they say if they found me dead here?
Was this really how I was gonna go?
I can’t die here, not like this…not when I have so many things left to do.
I should have talked to (this person) one more time…
Why is this happening to me?
Please, God…don’t let me die.
When I finally calmed down, I realized it needed to run its course before settling down. But what was wrong with me? I went to multiple doctors including heart specialists and healthcare physicians. They ran many tests but couldn’t seem to find anything wrong. Finally the doctors came to the conclusion of anxiety. It was a rough time trying to figure it all out and you would think that their words would have somehow lifted my worries. Unfortunately, their diagnosis only made things worse in my mind.
Eventually, I made the decision to try medication. To this day, the medicine has certainly helped out a great deal. I have my good days and bad days. But overall I seem to have it under control for the most part. This isn’t to say that I don’t still have anxiety attacks or moments of terrible panic, but there are certainly less of them.
Anxiety isn’t something that you can simply wave away. It’s not a simple “state of mind” that most people consider it to be. Anxiety, like mine, GAD(Generalized Anxiety Disorder), is exactly what it is called, a disorder. It’s something that disrupts the very structure of your mental state and prevents you from settling down or being able to catch your breath when you need to. It’s unrelenting at times and the worst part? You’re the only one who seems to be going through it at the time. So, my advice for those of you who are hearing things from people like: “Oh, it’s not real. You just need to calm down and you will be fine”, don’t listen to those people and their “advice”. Most of the time, people are only capable of empathy if they have been through the situation themselves. Anxiety is very real, as anyone with the diagnosis can tell you. But now, more than ever, it needs to be known by everyone that anxiety is something that happens to a lot of people. They need to know the symptoms and how it really works.
For those who are suffering, it helps to know that you are not alone in this. There are so many of us out there struggling everyday to make sure another panic or anxiety attack doesn’t creep up on us rendering our mental states a complete mess. As for those who do not have it on such a scale, consider yourself lucky and be sure to count your blessings. This isn’t something you would wish on your worst enemy.
Anxiety throws a delicate process of emotions and final decisions your way and forces you to make a choice and cut out that which is triggering your anxiety, if ever you are lucky to find that trigger. For some, like myself, a trigger isn’t always necessary, making the anxiety that much worse. While I certainly cannot pretend to know what it is like for others, I do know that, for me, it isn’t something I will ever enjoy.
It’s a part of me that I have learned to live with, and being able to write about it certainly helps. But the world doesn’t seem to realize that this is a disorder truly in great need of attention. So, if you are suffering from anxiety or any type of mental disorder, don’t be afraid. You are not alone, and these mental disorders are what connect us and give us hope. Solutions are often found together, as a team, and hopefully some day, the connections will lead to a breakthrough and a sure fire cure for anxiety as well as every other mental disorder out there.
Moral of the story: Even if you’re not suffering through it, acknowledge anxiety disorder for what it really is. Not some mere nervous emotion that comes along during stage fright, but something even greater than that. Realize what it truly is and be gentle and understanding to those who push through it and together, somehow we can all make it through it. After all, it’s my friends and family that help me to get through it each and every day and I couldn’t be more thankful for them.
I’ll never forget my first anxiety attack…
It was the scariest thing I have ever experienced…