What It’s *Really* Like To Have An Anxiety Disorder

The masses will all generalize things like, “I know how you feel, I get so nervous giving public speeches”, or “I’m terrified of heights, I get it.”

Actually, you really DON’T get it.

Because an anxiety disorder, complete with panic attacks and paranoia, is not related to a particular trigger at all times. Many times, it comes on without a trigger, without explanation, and boggles even those of us who suffer from them.

Imagine, if you can, the sensation of a bug flitting across your bare skin. An ant, a gnat, a roach, whatever insect of your choice. Your instinct is to shudder and shake it away or swat at it. Gross! Seconds later, even though the bug has been dealt with, you can still recall how it felt on your skin and you shudder again. But then you forget about it and move on.

Anxiety disorder is like living 24-7 with a thousand bugs crawling over your skin, in your hair, under your skin, inside your veins. You feel like you are losing your mind because, obviously, there are NO bugs. It’s “all in your head”. The sensations, however, are very real. Terrifying. Discombobulating.

You start to feel fragile. Like you are under attack from every outside stimuli. Like you have a target on your front and back and head and EVERYTHING around you is armed with a gun.

You tell yourself to “grow up”, “shake it off”, “get over it”. To no avail.

Anxiety can be triggered, sure. Often, it is not. Often, it is like a band of ninjas and by the time they strike, you’re caught unawares that you can’t do battle properly.

Just fathom living this way EVERY SINGLE DAY OF YOUR LIFE.

Imagine that fear of public speaking or heights or spiders or whatever not merely being a trigger that you can avoid or power through, but A CONSTANT COMPANION RESIDING IN YOUR OWN MIND AND YOU ARE NOT ARMED PROPERLY TO FIGHT IT.

Furthermore, think about what it’s like for those of us with anxiety disorders and the stigma and lack of understanding society deals us.

Do you consider that minor? Silly? Immature? Weak?

Ignorance, thankfully, is not contagious and CAN be cured by educating yourself on the matter, rather than making ignorant assumptions and judgments.

Trust me, judging, mocking, teasing, assuming- none of this helps us. If anything, it makes the anxiety worse and we retreat further into ourselves. Desperate for comfort, to escape our own demons for a moment or two.

Two out of four days this last weekend I was convinced I had bugs crawling everywhere. I survived a couple of hours in the dish on Friday but it was grueling. A firetruck siren went off. I felt terror pierce my entire being. Oh, my home is on fire, it could happen, it’s happened before! Oh, no, a ringing phone, what do I say with all these bug like sensations making me feel absolutely insane?

To recover from this, I did not leave the lot for the entire weekend but for a brief trip to a convenience store.

Today, the bugs are almost silent.

Almost.

But I don’t know how better to explain it than bugs on your skin, bugs everywhere.

Maybe tiny electric jolts going off under every inch of skin and tissue at random intervals. Or maybe a giant stack of amps outside your window blaring the most heinous music at all times.

Living this way is not fun and no amount of medication or therapy tricks make it any easier.

THAT is what it’s like to have an anxiety disorder.

If it still seems funny and mock worthy to you…You are  far more ignorant than I could give any human being credit for. And I pity you for your emotional intelligence stagnated around age ten.

If you want to see strength, intelligence, fortitude…

Look at those of us with anxiety disorders, including a myriad of other chemical misfirings in our brain…WE are the soldiers doing battle without weapons, without an army. WE are brave and strong and though suffering, we keep fighting.

Fighting an invisible enemy 24-7 is far more exhausting than anyone can fathom unless they live it.

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3 Responses to “What It’s *Really* Like To Have An Anxiety Disorder”

  1. This is why I try not to associate with people who act like they know what I’m going through. It just makes my blood boil on top of the crippling anxiety.

  2. Excellent Morgue!!! I love this. I tend more to the electrical zaps myself, but you’re spot on with everything you have written here.

  3. You reminded me of one of my jobs. They suddenly decided our dept would take turns being the back up receptionist which required using the loud speaker. I am afraid of the phone period, let alone add in the loud speaker. One of the girls laughed at me for several times then finally I asked her if she remembers what it feels like when she she sees a bug (I was the bug killer in the office). Her face turned white and she started shaking. I told her that is how my panic feels on the telephone. She stopped laughing at me and began encouraging me instead.It was kind of cruel to remind her of her fear, but she was laughing at mine.

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