The number one mental illness in the United States, the quickest way to debilitate everyday tasks, the silent killer, anxiety. Living with an anxiety disorder isn't easy. It's long days with even longer nights, and getting yourself all worked up before the simplest of things like the first day of school, a job, or being around a new group of people. It's trying to plan out your day, week, month, and even year, just to get even more anxiety over the fact that you can't plan that far ahead, and more importantly that you know you shouldn't. It's talking to a group of people and your brain is working in double time because you want to make sure you don't say the "wrong" thing. Anxiety is a constant crippling fear of the unknown, and making up a thousand and one different scenarios in your head over one little thing.
So to simply say, anxiety can come about when approaching a large group of people, or a group of people that you aren't familiar with. It can come about when you open your planner and see that twenty-six out of the thirty days in the month have something written on them to do. It comes when your professor says you have to start preparing for the biggest test of the semester, that is weeks away. It comes when your significant other isn't paying as much attention to you as usual, or is being distant. It comes when you just keep having to pay bill after bill, but you have yet to treat yourself. It comes when you look in the mirror and don't like what you see staring back at you.
To try and explain what living with anxiety is like to someone who is not familiar with it, is like trying to teach a dog to ride a bike--impossible. Imagine swimming under water, and you are swimming to the surface where the light is, but you don't ever reach it. You just keep reaching and reaching with the light clearly visible, but you never actually get that breath of fresh air above the water. Anxiety feels like you are constantly gasping and fighting for air; not being able to surface above the water.
People always say, "well just stop over-thinking," or "just deal with it," but to someone who is actually living with an anxiety disorder, these are the worst phrases you could possibly say. We don't expect you to understand what it's like, and we definitely will never be able to find the right words to fully make you understand. How do you explain what's going on in your head when you don't even understand it yourself? Your own mind is against you 24/7, and you have to do more work telling yourself that things are going to be okay and to calm down and to relax, than actually enjoying the present moment you're in. More importantly, this is one thing that is completely out of our control. We can't just "shut off" or "ignore" our anxiety because it will always be there like a book on a shelf waiting to be opened and read. And trust me, if we could just shut it off we would have done so a long time ago.
I think that the worst part of it all is that unless we tell you that we live with anxiety everyday or that we're having an anxiety attack, you probably would never even know the demons that we're battling day in and day out. And that is all because anxiety is a silent demon. It is one that you can't see by looking at us, and you probably still wouldn't even know exists when we start talking. It completely takes over our insides; from the way we feel physically, mentally and emotionally, to the thoughts that run through our head all while making us look perfectly fine on the outside. And just because the majority of the time we can't explain the feelings that are causing this anxiety, it doesn't make them any less valid.
However, there is always at least one positive to every negative there is in life, and the positive that goes along with the negativity of anxiety, is love. The one good thing about those with an anxiety disorder is the fact that we all have so much love to give. That too can actually be overwhelming for us as strange as that sounds, but when we love, we love with our whole heart. And because of this, sometimes we give our love to people who don't deserve it, or we love others too much and forget to love ourselves first. But as hard as it could be sometimes to love someone with an anxiety disorder, it will probably be the most rewarding kind of love because of how you much you receive in return.
If you're wondering the best way to help and control your anxiety, it is to add one thing to the very top of your "to do" list-live in the moment.