By Maggie Munley
Trying to explain what anxiety feels like is honestly like trying to describe what water tastes like. No matter how hard you’ll try to find the accurate words to describe it, it’s description-less.
To put the most basic description to it, I guess I’d say anxiety are those restless, sleepless nights of constant tossing and turning.
It’s overthinking. Overthinking everything. Why did that person say this? Why did that person do that? Why is he/she acting this way toward me?
It’s a weight both on your mind and your chest. It’s racing thoughts and heavy breathing that you cannot control. It’s that pit in your stomach that you can’t shake. It’s that constant reminder that you’re doing, or have done something, wrong.
It’s self-doubt. You’re never actually good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, funny enough, kind enough. Sure, you may be all of those things, but your mind will still convince you that you’re just not enough.
And in turn, it can quickly then turn into self-loathing, which is the scariest part of it all because that’s when it can quickly spiral into depression. Since you’re not good enough, you may as well stop trying, right? Since you’re not good enough, people must not like you, right?
Before you even realize it, your anxiety has created this false list of things that are wrong with you and things that are wrong in your life. It gets the best of you and you start to believe it all. You start to distance yourself as a way of avoiding it all.
The worst part about all of this, though, is that it comes out of nowhere. Nine out of 10 times, I personally have never been able to pinpoint the source of all of this. It’s so frustrating when people ask, because I so desperately wish I could tell them, but I truthfully don’t know.
Anxiety is that constant reminder that everything is not okay, when in reality, everything is. Anxiety is a liar, although it does a damn good job of convincing you how truthful everything it creates is in fact very real.
I’ve been dealing with anxiety and depression on some level for years now. Before I was ever able to recognize it for what it really was, I oftentimes found myself acting out in ways to deter myself from those dark, negative, all-consuming thoughts. Acting out in ways that are so, so far from the person that I really am. Acting out in ways that are completely out of character.
At the time, I thought this was the answer to solve it all. I was looking for justification and acceptance from others because I couldn’t for the life of me find it within myself. Unfortunately, as a result I often found that I only disliked myself more. I was doing, saying and, acting in ways that I knew was not the person who I really am, and the person I was channeling to ignore my anxiety and depression was only making matters worse for me.
I used to let it win. I used to let it control me.
The thing about anxiety is that it is not curable, but it is controllable.
Now, I have learned how to block out all that background noise. I have learned to hear it out. I’ve learned to hear out all of those worries and irrational concerns. But instead of listening to it, agreeing with it, and letting it control me as a person, I choose to overcome it.
It’s not easy, of course. Anxiety is like a light bulb that will switch on at the most inconvenient possible times and you won’t be able to turn it off. But, you canignore it. Anxiety can only define you when you let it become the only voice you listen to. And I’ve had that phase.
Quite frankly, I think anyone who suffers from anxiety and depression should go through that phase – not that it’ll really allow you much of a choice in the beginning. But I truly believe you do have to listen to those negative thoughts and let it control you for a little bit, because if you don’t, you’ll never know how to overcome it when it inevitably comes back.
For anyone who knows anyone who is dealing with or has dealt with anxiety or depression, please hear this:
Be patient. We’re not trying to keep things from you, hide things from you or, lash out on you. We truly wish we could explain what’s going on to you, but again, it’s seemingly impossible. We don’t know why it happens, where it comes from, or why it makes us act this way, so please be patient.
Be kind. I understand it is so easy to judge, say cruel things, or spread rumors about us. We can be an easy target for topics of discussion, I get it. But please understand that there is never any room to judge anyone – especially if you don’t know what that person is going through. People act, say, and do certain things under certain circumstances that may not be true to character.
And for the love of God, please be normal. We’re still humans, just like everyone else. Walking on eggshells, being extra sensitive and extra nurturing will only raise red flags in the mind of someone with anxiety. You’re feeding into it and reminding us again that we have anxiety. Live your life the way you always do around us and talk to and treat us as you always have. Anxiety is not an airborne disease, so when people start treating us like it is, it triggers that overthinking again.
And lastly, for anyone who, like me, has experienced or is experiencing anxiety and depression, please remember that everything is only temporary. I promise you nothing is ever really that bad, no matter how desperately your mind may try to convince you otherwise. Don’t let it win.