The term “anxiety” has been overused in collective language for some time now. It’s used extensively by many to describe situations that do not truly correspond to it which unintentionally trivializes the actual experience of people suffering from mental health problems.

emotion-556794_1920Anxiety is not synonymous with the slight and common nervousness felt by all, controllable worry, timidity or introversion. It’s not a normal part of the human experience, felt by all of us at different times, such as during a job interview. Anxiety involves intense emotions, intrusive thoughts, psychological and physical symptoms that affect the quality of life and well-being of those affected. Anxiety affects both your head and body. It can make you physically ill.

All forms of anxiety and their symptoms are different for each individual, and all feelings are valid.

You should never judge, guilt and moralize the experience of others. Trust me, those of us who struggle with anxiety issues already judge ourselves too severely and are drowning in self-imposed guilt. We don’t need the extra weight of outsiders looking in.

The main reason why people affected by mental illnesses are harsh upon themselves, try to hide their problems and feel isolated is that they face prejudice, stigmatization and judgements displaced by society and by individuals at every turn. People affected by mental illnesses not only have to deal with the illness itself but with the ever-present stigma and isolation created by society. Things must change to achieve real well-being of all.

It is more than important to understand that individuals who suffer from true anxiety are not responsible for their situations, just as they do not choose to be anxious. Anxiety is not a choice, nor a simple thing that is controlled by slamming fingers. Trust me, I wish it was that simple. It’s not based on the rational, and it is very toxic to insinuate that an anxious person has only to force themselves, to calm themselves and to relax. By experience, the more I try to force myself to be okay, to deny my feelings, to calm myself and relax, the worst the symptoms become. The more I tried to push these feelings back and act normal the sicker I got until I couldn’t hide it anymore.

girl-1098611_1920People affected by mental illness are not weak. It is not a question of weakness, regardless of the situation, the context and the intentions. This is something I still need to repeat to myself on a regular basis.

The methods of treatment are exclusively in the hands of the persons concerned and the health professionals who surround them. The only people who can afford advice and comment on the health of others are the health professional who surrounds them, and only when it is granted.