What Anxiety Feels Like

Anxiety...this is a word you hear so often in our culture. Everyone has it from time to time. But for some, it can be debilitating. And anxiety can look and feel different for each person.

For me, I feel anxiety physically as well as mentally. And it is exhausting. I feel like there is an elephant sitting on my chest. And no matter how deep a breath I take, I cannot get enough air into my lungs. When I feel this way, I recognize it is anxiety and focus on my breathing. Sometimes, I remind myself that anxiety makes me uncomfortable but it cannot hurt me.

Anxiety can consume me mentally, which is much worse then the physical symptoms I deal with. I get stuck on a thought. I can't let it go. It's always about something I have no control over. And the more I think about it the more out of control it gets. And the panic sets in.

For example, last week I was very nervous about my 6th grader walking to school because he had to cross a busy intersection. For two days, all I could think about was him getting hit by a car. I'm sure this isn't unheard of. But when my anxiety takes over, I can't let it go. It just replays over and over. The thing about anxiety is it is pointless. It doesn't change anything. By it is very real and for those who suffer, it can be so damaging.

I'm happy to say that my anxiety doesn't run my life anymore. I have moments. And some of them feel like real doozies but it's not every day. Anxiety isn't rational. And I recognize it for what it is, which only helps a little but it does help. Knowing what it is doesn't make it go away but it does make it better to know that it will pass.

I'm writing about anxiety today because last night I was in the car with someone who also has anxiety. We were pulling into an awful parking lot. And while everyone was commenting on the terrible parking lot (it's a corner lot, shaped like an awkward triangle where some of the spots back out into the road...but the pizza's great!), my fellow anxiety sufferer says "this parking lot is like what anxiety feels like". Her words struck me. They were powerful. It occurred to me that this tiny space was scary and chaotic and felt dangerous. I usually describe how anxiety feels as the weight on my chest. But she created a very good visual of what it can feel like. And this comment prompted my thoughts on anxiety.

So many suffer. And for those who do not, it must be so hard to understand those who do. Anxiety is one of those things, it doesn't discriminate. People with anxiety are normal people. Living normal lives. But, we are not alone. I feel pretty confident, that most people either know anxiety well or know someone who suffers with anxiety. And it looks different on each of us.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

1 comment :

  1. For me its hard to understand general anxiety vs. specific like separation anxiety and there is not any detailed data to explain to the outsider what that is like. Keep posting - your doing great and your writing is evidence of that! :)


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