When faced with a job interview, a first date, or any other stressful situation, it is not uncommon for people to say that they feel anxious. Considering the way that anxiety is viewed by society, this is not surprising. It is a difficult illness to grasp if you do not suffer from it, and it is one that is difficult to explain if you do. Many believe that anxiety is just an excess of nerves, and therefore treat the word “anxious" as if it is synonymous with the word “nervous." In some ways that is true. However, it's so much more than that.
When a person without anxiety becomes nervous, in most cases they are able to fight through it and and continue on with their day. It is usually rare and comes with good reason. For a person with an anxiety disorder, nerves are debilitating and they are every day.
For me, anxiety means forcing myself to eat because I have no appetite. It means dismissing myself to the bathroom so I can take a moment aside to stop my stomach from rolling. It means waking up every hour to throw up because something I can't pin down set me off in my sleep.
For some, it means locking themselves in their room because they can't bear to be around others, or going completely silent and shutting down and not being able to find the words to speak.
It means your heart beating out of your chest, ringing in your ears, hands and feet numbing and body shaking, tossing and turning all night as you try to bear the force of your racing thoughts.
It means not just biting your nails but biting your fingers and arms or pulling out your hair, trying to calm the ceaseless pounding in your head demanding that something is wrong.
A lot of the time, these symptoms don't appear for any discernible reason. Small errors or inconveniences can lead to a powerful bout of anxiety that lasts days or even weeks.
This is not an easy disorder to live with, and dealing with it often takes an extensive amount of hard work, therapy, and patience.
If you know somebody with anxiety, keep in mind that they're trying their best, but some days are harder than others. And chances are, it would mean the world if you gave them your patience and support.