You'd never guess it, not with me. You'd never guess that sometimes my chest feels so tight that breathing becomes the most difficult task. You'd never guess that I constantly sweat and shake because my heart is racing, and most of the time I have no idea why. These are just a couple of scenarios that depict exactly what anxiety feels like. Anxiety can be all consuming and you do not have to be nervous or an introvert to experience anxiety. This is a common misconception that I'm here to hopefully put a stop to.
I'm often one of the most social people in the room. I love people and I consider myself to be very friendly. I typically don't seem stressed or upset, and I try to always keep a smile on my face. I will be the first to walk up to a group of strangers and introduce myself. Knowing all of these things, most that know me, or know of me, would never assume that I also have crippling anxiety. They would never assume that most nights my mind races at such a pace that makes it almost impossible to sleep. So much runs through my mind that I often feel like I physically and emotionally can't handle it.
I even wake up shaking. It's so bad some days that I can actually feel my heart beating through my skin; but I get up, and I go to class, and I probably ask you how your weekend was. I sit in class and I have to force myself to breathe because I get so stressed out when we talk about assignments to come or tests or really anything. It's an awful disorder to live with, and what makes it even worse is the stigma that follows it. No one wants to talk about mental disorders. even though they affect a large majority of the population. Everyone likes to pretend that their life is picture perfect and they have everything together. News flash: none of us really have everything together, and that's okay. It's what makes us human.
Even when things seem to be going good, my mind convinces me that they are not. Anxiety tells me that something will go wrong, or I haven't done enough or I will never be enough. What gets me through this are the close-knit circle of people that I know will be there for me at any time of day. I make my anxiety known to them and they rationalize the situation for me. I could not make it without these people, and it is so important to have them when fighting a beast like anxiety. It's not something you should have to do by yourself.
It's time to break the stigma on anxiety and other mental disorders. It's time to talk about it and make it a normal topic of conversation. I am a social butterfly. I'm in a sorority. I'm involved in several groups on my campus. I smile at every person I meet, and I have anxiety. I struggle through a lot of my days. I'm working on it and it's something I will always be working on, but all of this is to say, be compassionate and kind to others. People wake up every day with things heavy on their heart, don't add to the list. Just because you cannot see something, doesn't mean it's not there.