In the fast-paced, chaotic world we live in today, it seems that more people suffer from anxiety than ever before. In fact, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million adults age 18 or older in the United States have some sort of anxiety disorder, making anxiety the most common mental illness in America.
Oftentimes, having anxiety can feel incredibly isolating, lonely, and scary, and can make the sufferer feel as though no one truly understands. Anxiety only rests while you sleep, and even then, sleep seems to evade you more nights than it should. Anxiety clouds your mind so much that you can barely differentiate reality from the one you’ve created inside your mind, and the one within speaks so much louder. Does the battle ever end? Does hope, love and happiness ever win?
As someone who suffers from anxiety herself, I can relate to how debilitating, hopeless, and frustrating you feel if you have anxiety. The following letter goes out to everyone who battles their mind on a daily basis, who might need a little something to keep them going.
THIS IS FOR EVERYONE WHO HAS EVER HAD ANXIETY
Anxiety doesn’t care whether you feel tired or fed up; it persists despite your weariness, it trudges on and infiltrates your mind just when you thought you’ve found peace. It doesn’t let up; in fact, it only seems to get worse when you try to fight it. The moment you wish it would just leave you alone for a while, it seems to bite back twice as hard.
Anxiety haunts you in your sleep and follows you around during the day. It doesn’t let your mind rest, always making you fixate, ruminate, and suffocate. You didn’t ask for this, and you can’t understand why you can’t attain peace. Life already comes with challenges, but anxiety just makes it worse because EVERYTHING feels like a huge obstacle.
Going on simple errands seems draining before you even walk out the door, and giving a presentation at work prompts panic and major discomfort. Life moves so quickly, and it seems that taking time to rest and refuel one’s mind and body is looked down upon. This world wasn’t made for the anxious, so where do all of those who have anxiety fit in? How do we deal with a world that asks us to keep on going even when we feel we can’t take another step?
With so much in life to worry about, it seems that peace of mind is either a distant memory, or a paradise island that you can’t afford to visit. Anxiety creeps up when you least expect it, and stays around long after you try to send it packing. In fact, it doesn’t ever want to leave! It builds a permanent home in your mind, and robs you of all positive thoughts and feelings. You try to fit in, smile at strangers, keep up with friendships, and go about your normal life, but inside you know something feels terribly wrong.
You try to correct these thoughts and feelings, try to heal it from within, but anxiety is a tough beast to tame. Anxiety is a silent monster, sabotaging your mind and taking up valuable space when you didn’t even invite it inside. It just comes and goes when it wants, and seems to stay far too long when it does visit.
Anxiety doesn’t understand you when you say you need a break, or when you question the voices running through your mind. It’s persistent, resistant, and cruel, a parasite that sucks your energy and clouds your brain. Anxiety doesn’t just live in the mind, though. You know the feelings all too well – the jittery legs, the racing heart, the butterflies in your stomach, the headaches, the nausea, the blushing, the lump in your throat, the sweaty palms, and the sheer panic that overtakes you in a stressful situation.
The worst part is, you can’t seem to differentiate between a stressful and harmless environment. Eventually, it all seems to bleed together. Everything seems stressful, because your brain can’t remember how it should feel in certain situations.
If you are one of the millions who suffers from an anxiety disorder, please don’t hesitate to get help if you need it. It doesn’t make you weak or a burden to ask for help – it actually makes you brave and strong to admit that you have a problem and need some guidance. No one should have to go through this life alone, so don’t hold back your thoughts or feelings just because society tells you to. Sit down and talk with a loved one, write in a journal, meditate, or do anything that helps to feel a sense of release and relaxation.
We do live in a stressed out world, but this doesn’t mean that you have to take on the feelings of the majority. Take time away from society, and don’t apologize for it. Nature, going within, taking care of your body, having positive people in your life, having a sense of purpose, and helping others can all help to alleviate feelings of anxiety. Never give up, because the feelings won’t last forever. You just have to have the willingness to work on you, and the courage to fight the demons in your mind. Remember, they can’t win if you don’t let them.