5 Ways To Explain Anxiety To Someone Who Doesn't Suffer From It

5 Ways To Explain Anxiety To Someone Who Doesn't Suffer From It

Here is what it can feel like, coming from someone who has it.
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If you are asking yourself if you have anxiety, then you don't. Not the crippling kind anyway. Millions of people have anxiety before a test, presentation, job interview, or some stressful event in their life. However, some of us have anxiety that cripples us before the simplest tasks. It can be hard to understand, so here are 5 things that can sort of be explained regarding anxiety.

1. It just feels like a cloud of negativity that you can't shake.

Carrying a burden can feel so hard to handle, and anxiety is like one that you can't get rid of. It is always weighing on your shoulders. It doesn't leave after that big test. It doesn't disappear after you finally finished moving somewhere new. It is always there.

You might wake up thinking it's going to be a good day but then you just get this sense of doom. You think if you drive too far you might get in a car accident. You worry that you forgot your homework assignment and now it is too late to finish it. It can keep you laying in bed all day just hoping that nothing bad happens to you or anyone that you know. It doesn't have to be caused by anything. It is unwelcome and very unwanted.

2. Out of nowhere, anxiety causes you to just completely panic.

There can seemingly be no reason for it. Out of nowhere, you can feel lightheaded, have a hard time breathing, your heart beats hard and fast, you feel lost, and you might even get sick or pass out.

These panic attacks come out of nowhere, and they are crippling. I used to have bad panic attacks as a kid and I thought I had outgrown them. Recently, they are back in full swing. It cripples you and there's not a lot that you can do about it. It's like a haze that overcomes you and you drown in it while the world keeps pretending that you are fine.

3. Panic attacks and fear can keep you bedridden.

If someone cancels plans with you because they have anxiety, please be understanding. It makes you afraid of the world sometimes. I have had days where I don't go to class because I feel panicked. I feel like something bad is going to happen and I am only okay in the comfort of my own home.

I have had events that I really look forward to but can't attend because they are triggers for me. I am sensitive to heat and it causes my anxiety to escalate quickly. I also hate big crowds. The event was outdoors in 103-degree heat with a record-setting crowd. I went home and cried in my bed because I felt like I let people down.

4. We don't want to miss out on things, but we do.

We don't choose to miss events. We don't choose to have sudden panic attacks. I once had someone in my life that called me crazy because of this. He had me believing it, which is terrible to do to someone who suffers from anxiety. Never call someone crazy, insane, or unjustified if they have anxiety. We aren't. It is just as debilitating as a physical disease.

We can't think, we can hardly move, and sometimes we can't even breathe. It comes out of nowhere, and it doesn't let go. We want to be just as social as other people, but we just can't. If that is someone's trigger, don't pressure them into it. Don't feel bad about it. I have lost friends because I am too anxiety-ridden to hang out like they want. It sucks. Anxiety has you crying in your bed because you want to do something but your mental health lets you down.

5. Anxiety annoys us just as much as it annoys you.

We aren't always reliable. We back out on things. We have to stay home. We aren't always the life of the party. We get it. We wish that anxiety would go away too. It is our life and we hate it.

Anxiety can't always be explained perfectly well. Maybe that is why the world makes it seem like you are crazy and lying when you try to tell people. I have missed classes because of panic attacks but had to make up some other excuse because I knew that it wouldn't be justified.

Next time someone tells you they have high anxiety, try to understand them. If they need you to leave, don't take it personal. It overwhelming, and questions usually just make it worse. Help them when they are ready to be helped. Understand what they are going through. Most importantly of all, love them no matter what. We need it.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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I Have Anxiety, But I've Learned Not To Let It Control My Life

Your mental illness does not define you.
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I was terrified of college. Almost my entire life, I have struggled with both general and social anxiety, and this amplified my worries about moving six hours away to a city I had only visited once 1000 times more. For almost two weeks before move-in day, I would have episodes of crying, panicking and hyperventilating every night because I was so scared of the unknown.

Each person’s experience with anxiety varies, but for me, a big trigger is not knowing the future and performing tasks by myself.

In college, both of these things are prevalent. Big questions such as, 'what if I don’t like my roommate?' bothered me, but even smaller, everyday obstacles like, 'what if I have to eat lunch by myself?' or, 'where are my classes?' caused me more stress.

With the first semester of freshman year under my belt, I can assure anyone who deals with anxiety or is nervous about college that everything is going to be OK. I didn’t die, and I found amazing friends. College has been one of the best experiences of my life so far. After asking around, I discovered that several people I know experience anxiety too.

In fact, 40 million adults in the United States suffer from this mental illness, with anxiety being one of the most common mental illnesses in the country.

Before I share a few methods that have proven helpful to me in dealing with my anxiety, I’d just like to say that your mental illness does not define you. My anxiety will always be with me, but I have learned not to let it control my life.

Having a mental illness is not shameful, and it is certainly not shameful to ask for help, whether that be talking to family, friends or a therapist.

With the help of my therapist, I have learned some effective ways in dealing with my anxiety in college. One is meditation. This physically calms down the body by reducing the heart rate. I have two apps on my phone that provide short meditation guides that I listen to when I'm feeling stressed. "Insight Timer" and "MINDBODY" are what I recommend.

Yoga is another option that achieves the same outcome by allowing the nervous system to relax. This next one is one of my favorites: coloring.

Coloring in coloring books is actually a method that keeps the brain active while allowing your mind to de-stress.

Physical exercise is important as well, and this can be as easy as walking to class.

Everyone needs to remember that having a mental illness is no less shameful than having a broken leg, and seeking help is not embarrassing. I’ll admit, the journey is a long and painful one, but we can overcome by taking small steps each and every day.

Everyone fights their own battles, and mine is against anxiety.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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Choosing Your Dream College Is An Unhealthy Modern Obsession

In the end, you can find happiness on any campus.
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Please allow me to share my first-hand account of this weird cultural fixation with teens finding the “perfect” school:

During my sophomore year of high school, it hit me: my days nestled in the comfortable clutches of secondary school were numbered. After graduation, I would effortlessly move onto the “best years of my life” at college and the rest of my existence.

As this life plan suddenly occurred to me, my personality changed. I became utterly driven by the idea of college acceptance letters swarming into my house like Harry Potter’s letters from Hogwarts in “The Sorcerer’s Stone.”

From that moment, I thought of the concept of a university daily. Idolizing the prospect of receiving incredible scores on SATs and ACTs, I enrolled in four standardized testing prep courses, of which I studied for every single day. The fact that there is a booming industry, making absolute bank off the anxious high schooler, speaks volumes. Truly, Boston College reported the value of the college testing preparation market up to $700 million.

Joining random clubs and teams to pad my resume, staying up all night to write impeccable essays, and reviewing for exams from the minute I woke to the minute I fell asleep, I was exhausting myself. I put quantifiable scores above my mental state.

The worst part: I didn’t even have a true end goal. There was no special school for which I was striving, just the idea of a “dream college” daunted over me.

Fast-forward to my senior year, I pondered which college to go to hourly. I always came up short because I would find a new fault with every single school. This one is too selfishly expensive. This one is too scarily risky. This one is too embarrassingly safe.

By March of that year, all the cards were on the table. I received answers from all the colleges to which I applied. Surprisingly, I got into my top choices, my so-called “dream colleges” - but I didn’t feel like everyone told me to feel.

A bitter wave of emptiness and overwhelming sadness crashed over me. I had spent years of my youth stressing and studying…for what? Letters from colleges that I had already overanalyzed to the point of complete ugliness? It felt like a waste.

When the time to move into college arrived, I decided to reprioritize and redefine myself. It was high-time to acquire more depth than a culmination of numbers (my scores and scholarships).

I realized that your environment can only matter so much in terms of your internal condition. Your reaction to everything around you is so much more important to your joy than, well, everything around you.

Finding the most elite and flawless university is an unfair expectation to put on a single place. So why does our society make it this way? Don’t get me wrong, it is very rewarding to work diligently on your studies. However, at what point is this whole thing even about learning anymore?

Cover Image Credit: everypixel

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