If you’ve never experienced anxiety, it’s hard to understand what it is and how it affects those who have it. To be honest, even if you have experienced it putting it into words isn’t easy. But let’s just start with some of the basics.
Anxiety isn’t “just worrying” or “stressing”. Saying anxiety is “just worrying” is like saying climate change is “making the earth a tad bit warm”. There are also many different types of anxiety—some more severe than others. And symptoms/issues are different for everyone. Not everyone has panic attacks. Not everyone suffers in social situations. Not everyone can be helped with pills or therapy. It’s different for everyone. So if you know one type of anxiety, or one person with it, don’t assume you know how anxiety works for everyone.
“But you shouldn’t get anxious about that… there’s nothing to worry about” – The most unhelpful things to ever say to someone with anxiety. It’s literally like saying “don’t be sick”, or telling English weather not to be cold. It’s something you cannot help, control, or change. Yes, you can find ways to cope, and a lot of people do come up with effective ways to control their anxiousness and phases of panic, but it’s not a quick fix. Trust me, we all wish it was as simple as “stop worrying”, but it’s not.
Although explaining anxiety in simple terms is doing a disservice to all those who suffer from it, I will just give you a few bullet point facts.
- Tells you that you’re doing everything wrong.
- Convinces you that if you do ‘X’, the outcome will be the worst thing that’s ever happened to you.
- Makes you feel nauseous, your heart race and your mouth dry (and this is just on a daily basis, not even when you’re having a panic attack).
- It doesn’t let you sleep.
- Overanalyses everything.
- Convinces you that everyone hates you and everything is the worst it has ever been.
Another important thing to know is that no specific type of person gets anxiety. You can be wealthy, happy, and physically healthy and still have anxiety. You can also develop it at any stage in life. It’s not just an “emo teenager thing”.
But the MOST important thing to know about anxiety is: it is not made-up! Out of all things to fabricate in life, why would anyone lie about a (sometimes extremely crippling) mental disorder?
(Personally, I’d lie about a hot, talented artist-type being in love with me and asking for my hand in marriage.)
I have anxiety, and although mine has improved a lot, and I’m learning to cope better every day, I still get anxious. It doesn’t just stop. Most people are actually shocked that I have anxiety because I’m quite a naturally self-assured person. But like I said, no specific type of person gets anxiety.
This isn’t about me, though. It is about those who suffer from anxiety and their insensitive loved ones who try to tell them to “cheer up”. Instead of trying to solve their problems and “cure” their anxiety, just try to support that person and be sensitive to their struggles.
Why can we show compassion and understanding for physical illnesses, but not mental ones?
We just all need to be more open-minded and compassionate.
Sending love, positive energy and strength to all those suffering from this sucky disorder.