I was diagnosed with a mild anxiety disorder 2 years ago, and at that time I felt as though my world had come to a standstill. I did not have anyone to confide in – my family wouldn’t, and still don’t understand, and my friends would shrug it off like it was no big deal, something they do with every situation.
For the first year, attacks were an everyday thing, and it felt like I would never be able to lead a normal life, free of medication. I would attend 6 hours of school, and come back home only to spend another 6 crying in the bathroom because I felt extremely alone. My friends, even though they might have understood, would not make a conscious effort to make me feel included or even ensure I was okay. It was undoubtedly the hardest year of my life, mostly because I didn’t have anyone to talk to and after hearing all the misconceptions about anxiety, I was convinced that I was retarded.
As someone who has dealt with anxiety for a couple of years I can most definitely account for the fact that one of the most persistent struggles for someone dealing with anxiety is what people get wrong about the disorder.
It’s not a big deal. A lot of individuals, including the ones suffering from it, feel like its no big deal. They think that not being able to breathe while trying to deal with a multitude of emotions is normal. It’s not. Most of the time, major psychological disorders end up stemming from an anxiety disorder itself. And a lot of the times, the individuals suffering from it don’t realize this, which is why they never open up to anyone about it, or try to get help. It’s a common mistake, one I made too but when I was ready to talk about it, I didn’t have any person I trusted enough.
People suffering from anxiety should avoid whatever is causing their fear.Avoidance won’t help you. If anything, it’ll make you build your anxiety further, because the more you avoid something which causes you a certain amount of stress or discomfort, the worse it gets. And the more you face your fears, or situations of even mild discomfort to you, the stronger you become – emotionally and physically. I had to learn this the hard way, since I had no medium of expressing my feelings, for the most part I would suppress them, but once I learned how to deal with them and talk to people about it without feeling like there was something terribly wrong, it gave me strength. Enough strength to be able to write this.
It only builds from one form of fear or trauma. While anxiety may come from a certain event that has occurred in your life, it could also be due to the genetic make-up of a person. The way you’re wired directly affects your behavior and the kind of person you are, which makes you that much more or that much less susceptible to anxiety or depression, or any other psychological disorder for that matter.
For me, it was everything that triggered my anxiety – the fact that I wasn’t included in group activities, the fact that my friends didn’t care about me, the fact that I would put myself out there for everyone I cared about and get nothing in return, (not even a morsel of appreciation) turned me into the person I am today. I’ve built up a wall over the past few years and it takes me a really long to be able to trust anyone, but when I do, it’s for a lifetime. Fake people don’t surprise me anymore, loyal people do.
There aren’t any physical symptoms. When someone feels physically unwell due to anxiety, they are not imagining it. It is as much a physical and mental disorder as depression/OCD/PTSD/Schizophrenia, etc. Most of the symptoms, in fact, are a sign that you are suffering from some form of anxiety. When people say, “I can’t breathe”, it’s not an expression. There is a constant lump in your throat, your eyes well up with tears and the next thing you know you’re crying on the bathroom floor telling yourself your life has no meaning and that you’d much rather die, because that’s genuinely how intense anxiety can get – its how intense my anxiety was at one point in time.
The last two years have been the most difficult ones of my life, having to deal with this as well as Class 12 boards and college applications and all the stress that comes along with it. If it weren’t for a few individuals in my life, I would not be standing here today, alive and more hopeful than I’ve ever been. I’vespent 3 weeks at Jindal University, and I am already so comfortable with the people here – the seniors are so welcoming and are willing to help you with anything and everything, the professors could be mistaken for your friends, they’re that approachable and comfortable to talk to, and lastly, my batch mates are all extremely good human beings, and I’m really glad I have the opportunity to get know people from so many different backgrounds – this is what makes me sure that I’m going to be comfortable in my new environment, and that my anxiety will only get better from here. This doesn’t mean there won’t be hard days, there will be, because I don’t think I can ever get back to the person I was before. But maybe if I am able to make bonds and friendships with people I trust enough, I can get through it without falling apart. And to be extremely honest, there’s nothing more I could ask for.