One thing I have never understood is why many people in this world do their very best to avoid talking about anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses. It's this huge elephant in the room that everyone avoids addressing. People label it is as "taboo" and if you ever were to google anxiety or any other mental illness you get these websites on all the medical terminology and descriptions on what it is, forcing it to look like if those with it are meant to be treated differently than any other "normal" person. That those with anxiety or another mental illness need medication in order to be a functional human of society, and in some cases that is true, however, not always.
Unfortunately, those with anxiety get too nervous to even try to explain it themselves. I would know because I too suffer from anxiety, however, I am writing this for one of my best friends, Heather Menchew, who wants others to know what it is like for her and to bring awareness.
The biggest thing about anxiety is that you tend to worry and have a fear of the smallest of things, no matter how downright ridiculous it may be. It is as if you have a tiny monster on your shoulder waiting at just the "right" moment when you have nothing to stress over to make you start worrying about something.
In situations, you begin to come up with all these different scenarios in your head of everything that could possibly go wrong. No matter how many times we tell ourselves that we have nothing to fear, it still doesn't make it any easier. Living in a constant fear state gets tiresome but we hate it when people tell us "Oh just stop worrying" or "Why are you so scared, stop freaking out and just calm down. You are just over exaggerating." Do you think we want to feel like this? That if we could 'just stop worrying" that we would?
Another thing that happens when you have anxiety is that you have small anxiety attacks when you're in unfamiliar situations. You get overwhelmed when you're in an environment when you're around a lot of people you do not know and people assume you are just being standoffish and rude when you don't speak.
It's not that we don't want to talk to you, it's just our brain starts over analyzing everything to the point where we sort of shut down mentally and want nothing more than to leave and get away from the crowd. When these anxiety attacks happen, it's almost paralyzing. Your chest may burn, tighten or being to feel like it's vibrating. You result to nervous habits like biting your lip or nails or the sides of your fingers to help release some of the anxiety. You get this feeling that everyone figures something is wrong with you, and when you try to explain they just don't understand so it makes you feel alone.
There are days when you don't want to get out of bed because the stress of the outside world is too much or you just wake up feeling anxious over situations that irrelevant to the day but you can't make yourself shake the thoughts away. Or when you're out at a party with friends you just get this urge to leave however you hate the idea of being alone but that's all your brain wants. When you're with your friends your brain makes you question if those are true friends because you worry that they think you're faking the anxiety, that you're doing it for attention, and wonder why they are even friends with you.
So there are times when we just pull away, to see if you truly care. Because it’s exhausting. Being tense and on edge is physically and mentally draining to deal with daily, to the point we just want to shut down. It is so much more than just the mind. It affects everything.
We just want people to become more aware of people who deal with anxiety but not to treat us as if we are this foreign thing or as if we are fragile. We are normal, however, sometimes we require a little extra love and attention.
Reassurance is key, and we will always ask for it, no matter who we need it from. Because a lot of times we are in self-doubt mode, so by not meaning to we make it a big deal that you will be there, that you do understand and that you don’t think we are doing this to be attention seekers. And those who do have anxiety shouldn't have to be scared to admit to people that they have anxiety or that they should be scared or embarrassed to seek help. Anxiety is a term used very loosely. It’s not often that people acknowledge just how debilitating it is.