Anxiety isn’t a one size fits all, it isn’t consistent and it isn’t always easy to explain.
For people living with an anxiety disorder or disorders, various thoughts can quickly jostle and become invasive, to the point of completely paralyzing their daily lives. Emotional escalation occurs at the same time, which greatly increases this strong sense of absolute loss of control.
There are so many things that can happen in the brain in parallel: hard-to-tolerate emotions, anticipation for future events, intense fears, excessive worry, phobias, feelings of humiliation and shame, extreme analysis of details, self-deprecation, guilt, etc.
All of these things are terribly trying and require such a high level of physical and mental energy that the affected people can become really exhausted and/or in distress.
Physical symptoms are also possible in certain situations, such as headaches, muscle aches, heart palpitations, flushing, chills, nausea, high blood pressure, chest pain, diarrhoea, tremors, heavy sweating, numbness in the limbs, sleep disturbances, etc. I have personally experienced all of the above.
“Anxiety is like quicksand. The harder we struggle to escape, the deeper we sink.” – Unknown
Anxiety disorders are not comparable to simple stress that everyone can experience one day or another. Anxiety is a mental health disorder, which cause great suffering, and which must never be trivialized and denigrated. It is not because you have personally experienced stress, such as butterflies before an oral presentation, that your situation is similar to that of a person affected by these disorders. There is truly a world of difference between the two. One of the big problems, which always spreads prejudices towards anxiety disorders, is that this comparison exists.
Anxious people are often told to calm down as if they were at fault and responsible for their condition. This is not the case. They are affected by a health condition, which will not be solved with a “calm down”. On the contrary, this type of sentence just makes the person struggling with anxiety feel even worse which will only serve to increase the feelings of humiliation and shame, extreme analysis of details, self-deprecation, guilt, etc.
These people are not weak and cowardly. They do not exaggerate anything, and can not just calm down by snapping their fingers. These emotions and the symptoms that affect them are not choices or situations they control. They live in conditions that are not at all obvious and require extraordinary resilience.
Anyone suffering from mental illness deserves to be listened to and to be reassured. They do not deserve, under any circumstances, to be treated as if their conditions were only caprices and exaggerated emotions. Their feelings and experiences are legitimate at all times. They must be respected for who they are: wonderful and wonderful people, who are not exclusively defined by their diagnoses.