You meet a new person at work and have many things in common. It could be the beginning of a valuable, healthy friendship. You start to get to know this person, text each other, and even hang out with them outside of work. That’s when the darkness shows up, knocking with full force so loud that you cannot sleep and you have to answer. Your mind spirals into the multitude of terrible scenarios that you “know” will happen if you open your heart to this friendship. You obsess over this each day until you give up and shy away. This is just one example of a normal situation experienced through the eyes and heart of someone with anxiety.
If these same spiraling of thoughts occur with very normal life situations, imagine what happens when a serious life event is presented to someone with anxiety. Anxiety disorder is very real and extremely complex. It’s difficult for some to understand, especially those who have been blessed to live their life without it. It’s also a taboo subject, one that has a reputation associated with: weak, negative, get over it, embarrassment, and emotional.
This article is not a scientific deep dive into anxiety disorder. It’s a personal letter to you, my reader. It’s a letter to both the people who have anxiety and the people who do not but love someone who does.
What does a person look like who has anxiety?
There is not a cookie cutter personality type that defines people with anxiety. Most people who know me, will tell you that I am energetic, passionate, happy, positive, confident, and on and on. Am I really these things? The answer is yes but the truth is more complex.
I have anxiety. There are many types and forms of anxiety disorder and I’m not going to run through a definition of all of them. I am here to say, dear reader, roughly 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety each year and only one third get treatment. It’s a complicated internal battle that never ceases even if the person is good at hiding it, believing themselves to be a mastermind of their own mind. There is always a breaking point.
I am here to say, I am not embarrassed that I suffer from anxiety and even some depression. Why should I be? Why should I be afraid to talk about a chemical imbalance? There are so many people who suffer from this and never tell anyone. We cannot go through it alone and we should not.
I only recently went to get help. My pride always got in the way and my ignorance about it stopped me from looking into treatment. I grew up thinking that medications for anxiety and depression were bad, weak minded, and thought it would turn me into a different person. Do medications have side effects? Of course. Do medications change a person’s overall personality? In some cases, most definitely. But - it’s such a detrimental disorder that it’s worth trying it out until a solution is found.
You want to hear something else? My anxiety caused me excruciating upper back pain and fatigue. I do yoga almost every day, I meditate, I have hobbies, and I am physically healthy. I also had over thirty blood tests done, x-rays, and a CT scan just to be sure. And all my tests came back 100% fine. After trying medication, my back pain and fatigue are gone.
If you love someone who suffers from anxiety and depression, your continued support goes beyond what you’ll ever know, even though it doesn’t seem that way. Encourage your loved ones to seek help and be there every step of the way.
And, to my dear readers who suffer with those internal monsters, those demons that try to tear you down: the most troubled souls in the world are those who have the most beautiful things to offer. You are worth it and the world needs those who have been through battles. I finally took the leap and the only regret I have now is wishing I had done it sooner.