Okay, here’s a topic most people don’t want to talk about: Anxiety.
The thing that eats away at our minds and can wreak havoc on our bodies. The monster that opens the gateway to depression and isolates us from the rest of the world.
It’s like dealing with the monster under your bed, you can’t see it or hear it, but you know it’s there waiting to grab you and suck you under and into the abyss.
You begin to feel so afraid and alone that you turn into yourself, creating a cage to keep other people out and yourself in because you think that’s the only way you’ll stay safe.
You can’t talk to anyone because no one can understand what you’re going through and it’s too stressful to even try and talk about it, right? WRONG!
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S.
First off, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states that,
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.
Forty million people are experiencing what you experience every day! That is the exact opposite of being alone, that’s the population of Poland! Now while its sobering to think that that many people can be dealing with anxiety, it’s also a relief to know that you are not the only one dealing with this issue.
What anxiety actually is
Secondly, before we go any further into this topic let’s define what anxiety is. Because despite the fact that there are 40 million people in the U.S. that have anxiety or anxiety-like symptoms, there is the good chance you are not one of them. So, let’s begin first by looking at the definition of anxiety as stated by the American Psychological Association (APA):
an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.
Now, it is important to point out that everyone has had a feeling of anxiety or anxiousness at some point in their life. After all being scared or nervous is a part of human nature.
But there is a difference between FEELING anxiety and HAVING anxiety. If you feel anxiety from time to time, mostly around high stress situations or experiences (i.e. taxes, tests, surgery, accidents) and these, or similar instances are the only times you feel anxious, then chances are you don’t have an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders are a whole different ballgame
Anxiety disorders are a whole different ballgame, and to deal with them you might need medical assistance. Now full disclaimer, I am NOT a psychologist, psychiatrist, or any other kind of doctor that specializes in mental health. I cannot, nor will I try to, diagnose you in any way.
However I do know what it’s like living day to day with anxiety, and I understand how scary it can be to feel anxious all the time and not understand what’s going on with your mind or your body and feeling like you have no control.
So, what defines an anxiety disorder? Answer: Trick Question!! There are multiple types of anxiety disorders each with their own definitions. It would take a long time to go through all of them so I’m not going to. However, the American Psychological Association does have an article on their website that describes the different types of anxiety disorders. Here’s the link, so go ahead and take a look!
But please don’t self-diagnose yourself, it’s dangerous to do so and can just cause more nervousness and stress to your already anxious mind. If you identify with any of the definitions you see in the article and you want to learn more then please contact a doctor to help diagnose you. (There’s a reason it takes them so long to finish school after all!).
When I started having anxiety I had no idea what was going on
Earlier on I mentioned how I know what it’s like to have anxiety and to feel like I have no control. This is true, when I started having anxiety I had no idea what was going on.
I thought there was something seriously wrong with me and I felt like I was free falling with no parachute and the ground was coming closer and closer and I had no way to stop myself.
Finally, I realized that the feeling of having no control over my circumstances was just that, a feeling. I did have a parachute I was just so afraid I didn’t realize it was there. So I did the smartest thing I’ve ever done, I pulled the cord and stopped freefalling.
I told someone close to me what was going on and they got me the help I needed. I went and saw a therapist and went to a psychiatrist who could help determine what medicine would be best for the type of anxiety I was experiencing.
There is a lot of stigma to therapy and medication
Unfortunately, there is a lot of stigmatization regarding therapy and using drugs to help with mental disorders. Some people think it makes you weak or that there must be something really wrong with you if you’re going to therapy.
I definitely thought that way, and at first I was afraid to tell anyone that I went because I was ashamed and afraid of their judgment.
Now I shout it from the rooftops, “I HAVE A THERAPIST!” Okay, I don’t really do that, but I’m no longer afraid to share my experiences because who knows?
Maybe someone else is struggling with anxiety out there and is afraid to get the help they need, and if hearing me say “I needed help and I got it” helps them then that puts a big smile on my face.
Don’t let anxiety control your life! You are not alone!
Don’t let anxiety control your life! You are not alone, there are so many people who are going through the exact same thing that you are going through right now.
Don’t be silent! Get out there and talk to someone you trust, people in your life care about you and they want you to get the help you need.
Don’t be ashamed!
Don’t be afraid about being judged by others for needing help, you are not weak and there is nothing wrong with you. Your mind is just different and that’s ok.
Get help! Go get help, make an appointment with a therapist to see if it really is anxiety that your suffering from or something else.
Anxiety can be your own worst enemy, but you know what? Your enemy can be defeated. You have the ability to take back the control you thought was lost. You have a parachute, stop freefalling, pull the cord and soar.
Kirsten Brazil is a Southern California native and a burgeoning Freelance Writer. When she isn’t spending time with her family or watching Hallmark Mysteries, she can be found at the nearest bookstore or library with a coffee and book in hand.