Everybody gets stressed, right? Everyone experiences worry, right? If that is the case, then why are so many individuals complaining about it and saying they have an anxiety disorder? As someone who has anxiety, I am here to explain why it is different from normal worry or stress and why it is not something you can simply “get over.”
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. About 40 million adults suffer from anxiety. That’s 18% of the population! As far as children 17 and younger are concerned, anxiety disorders affect 1 in 8 people. There are also many different forms of anxiety, like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and more. Anxiety can be treated, but it can’t be magically cured by any drug or practice.
I am not ashamed to say that I suffer from Panic Disorder. In fact, I think it is important to acknowledge mental illness rather than feel like you are “crazy” or “weird” for having one, especially when anxiety is becoming more common among young people. I experience panic attacks that can be triggered by absolutely nothing. I could be sitting in front of the television watching a comedy and all of a sudden my heart will pound, my throat swells, I hyperventilate, and sometimes I cry uncontrollably. It feels like you are dying, and it seems like the feeling will never go away. Fighting a panic attack only makes it worse, and when they happen in public it can be humiliating. As far as my day-to-day goes, I have an extremely hard time relaxing. I am in a constant state of worry, the degree of worry just varies. Overthinking things and feeling overwhelmed are common as well. I have a pretty normal life outside of that, and I have learned how to cope as best as I can.
There have been many times that I have heard people say that anxiety disorders are not real because everyone experiences anxiety. I have seen people say to an Obsessive Compulsive person who feels the need to flip the light switch on and off twice, “that is ridiculous, just stop yourself.” There have been instances in which a class would drop heavy books on the ground to send their teacher, a war veteran with PTSD, into a panic. Anxiety disorders are real and those who suffer from them need you to understand that this is not their choice. There is no way to just “relax” or “stop it” or “cheer up.” The only way we will “buck up” is if the public understands the importance of awareness, not just for anxiety, but all mental illnesses and disorders as well.
I do not let my anxiety define me and you should not either. If you believe you have an anxiety disorder, seek help and you will find there are so many others out there ready to help, love, and support you. Healing comes from awareness and acceptance, and everyone needs to understand the importance of understanding. If those with anxiety could “just get over it,” believe me, they would.