Anxiety is a term that tends to be thrown around quite often without a second thought. Everybody knows what it’s like to feel “anxious” but only some know what it’s like to be crippled with chronic “anxiety.”
For those who don’t understand the latter, it’s not unusual for those with anxiety to be dismissed. “Just calm down,” “stop being so dramatic,” and (my absolute favorite) “it’s all in your head”.
And that’s the problem, isn’t it? When that last statement is thrown around by those who don’t understand, the reality of what they’re saying doesn’t truly make itself known to them. Because that’s exactly what anxiety is. It’s all in our heads. It comes down to the fake realities your mind is trying to tell you are indisputable. It doesn’t allow you to think logically, it doesn’t listen to the voices of people beside you that are telling you to “just calm down.”
If anything, sentences like that just make it worse when you’re caught in the midst of an anxiety or panic attack. Because when someone tells you to calm down and then you don’t, the thoughts just start racing more and more with new ones worked in such as “Why can’t I be normal?” or “Why can’t I calm down?”
Anxiety has the ability to take a normal thing and turn it into what seems like a catastrophe for no one but yourself. Anxiety doesn’t know logic, it doesn’t know what it means to think rationally about something. It is an extreme emotion that ensnares you inside your mind. It cannot look at something and analyze it for what it truly is.
For example, a simple text message that goes unanswered can go from “Oh, they must just be busy” to “Okay, this is weird” to “What if they’re mad at me? Did I do something to upset them?” to “They hate me and they’re never going to talk to me again.” A lot of people can identify with this situation but people with anxiety tend to go through this all within the span of a minute.
The problem is we cannot get out of our heads. It holds us captive and doesn’t let us cement ourselves in reality. Instead, it keeps us in the hypothetical and oftentimes will entertain us with the worst case scenario. And it’s our brain that’s the culprit. It’s our heads that won’t let us go. And good luck stopping your thoughts.
Once you’re inside, anxiety has a vice grip on you and it doesn’t let you go. You can learn about coping mechanisms and train yourself to overpower certain components of anxiety but it is not something that can be 100 percent defeated. Therapy can help and medication can help but unless a cement wall can be put up in our brains to stop the anxious thoughts, it’s not going away.
So when you say “it’s all in your head,” I won’t fight you on it. I will gladly tell you you’re right.