a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome
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Anxiety affects many people. However, many of us, when we think of it, see a room filled with the well-adjusted and cocksure. People who would never and have never doubted themselves, second-guessed themselves, or made a mistake. People who have never so much as taken medication to control the racing thoughts, quell the marching band in their chest, stop the pools of sweat.
But Anxiety Disorder is the most common mental illness in the United States. It affects nearly twenty-percent of the population. That means if you’re out with five friends, at least one of you has anxiety. I’d be willing to bet, statistics aside and delving into realism, at least three of you have it to some varying degree.
I have anxiety. I’ve had it so long, it could be argued I was born with it. I am also no stranger to debilitating depression. My anxiety is wrapped up in a little thing called post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of several anvils of trauma having been dropped on my head throughout life. I’ve managed to lift them all–though my chubby arms show no evidence of this–but there are several I still hold above my head. Studies show I might hold them above my head for life.
Anxiety and control are like brother and sister. Best friends. Spiritually linked. Anxiety can be in a restful slumber for weeks, days, months…but then it gets that call in the middle of the night. It’s not Jolene, and it sure as hell ain’t Barbara. It’s Control reminding it that it’s time for a panic attack. The thing hasn’t happened -or- maybe it has. Maybe there’s no “thing” at all, just your amygdala staging a coup against your prefrontal cortex (PFC) before Paul Revere has a chance to go on a ride to let the PFC know it’s coming.
If I had the solution on how to defeat anxiety (or at least trap it in an effective sleeper hold or Rock Bottom the shit out of it), it wouldn’t still control me as much as it does. My social anxiety has the power of a nuclear weapon, and I never went to school to figure out how to disarm it. I mean, I could have, but then it gave me test anxiety and doubt and made me fear people until I switched majors.
Do not let it convince you that you are alone. The Anxiety and Depression Society of America also has some helpful as hell tips to keep you centered when anxiety has you by the ankles and the cliff has come into view. What has helped and is helping me is identifying my triggers. Hidden triggers are what makes the little bug so effective at what it does–a smell, a face, a temperature and you’re in panic mode before you know it.
Also, keep in mind, taking medication or talk-therapy (or both) is normal and healthy. I was on anxiety medication for about four years. My goal has always been to try at life without them, and I am currently working on that, but that doesn’t have to be your goal. Listen to your body; it is very user-friendly. Even in a crowded room, in the most silent meeting you have ever attended, it will gurgle to let you know danger is coming, growl to let the world know it’s hungry.
All in all, please take care of yourself, and know you have a safe space here, with me, a fellow warrior. Just don’t call me. It’ll kill me.