I am extremely anxious writing this article because I want to do the story justice. This is not the first time I've experienced high levels of anxiety. I've lived with a chronic anxiety disorder since I was a teenager. Anxiety is not momentary nervousness, it is a chronic condition that needs to be monitored and managed by mental health professionals. I am not a mental health professional, but rather a person who lives with anxiety. I don't know if that was repetitive, but I'm just going to go with that because this article doesn't need to be perfect. I'm anxious, and I'm okay with that. If you're anxious reading this I'm sorry, and I hope you feel better soon.
I wrote a tweet one day about how I was anxious when people take a long time to respond to my text messages. Then I decided to hashtag it with #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike. Then I thought, I cannot be the only person who feels this way. There are so many of us who have anxious minds. I opened up the conversation and invited people to participate in it. I said:
I wanted people to know what living with anxiety feels like. All of a sudden, people started chiming in with their thoughts about what it's like to live with anxiety. Anxiety can feel debilitating to people who have it. I want people to understand this. Too often I have been called "dramatic" or "needy" for exhibiting traits of an anxiety disorder. These pejorative terms need to stop being associated with anxious people. We are trying the best that we can, and we do not want to be put into a category of someone who is difficult to deal with. It's hard enough managing anxiety without having to cope with the shame that is projected onto the symptoms. I don't want anyone to feel shame because they are anxious.
People began sharing traits of anxiety that I was sure were exclusive to my brain. It made me feel less alone. Anxiety consistently tells me that I am a failure or that I can't accomplish my goals. It's a loud nasty voice that is unrelenting. I want people to hear what it sounds like. We (the people living with anxiety) are not exaggerating or histrionic; we are human beings who have a medical condition.
If you have anxiety, and you are consistently thinking that people are going to leave you or that they hate you, you are not alone. Please join us by using the hashtag on Twitter #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike