What is Anxiety?

The world around her seemed to be consumed entirely by a grey cloud. The moments before were unremarkable but at least she’d been existing. Now she was on the outside looking into a world she didn’t recognise, words spoken were mere distant sounds and people were just blank faces barely visible beyond the fog.

She could feel the weight on her chest getting heavier and all attempts at easing it becoming impossible. The blank faces weren’t unfamiliar and yet, still, she felt like she didn’t belong. She felt as if she’d been thrown between these four walls which were getting closer and closer, trapping her with no escape.

She didn’t dare open her mouth to tell anyone because she’d already begun to understand what everyone else thought they knew. When someone says the word anxiety, what do you think of?

Anxiety isn’t always about panic attacks, nor is it limited to rocking back and forth being unable to breathe.

Some days, it was anger, feeling as if the world was formed to work against her. Other days, it was curling beneath her duvet and sleeping until the sky was black, regretting doing nothing but wishing she could do it again at the same time. Her anxiety could be tears that fell on their own for no reason at all or hours spent hypothesising over situations that would probably seize to ever exist.

On days like this one, it was zoning out. It was being in a room with people she loved but not being able to enjoy it; it was focusing on the possibility that she stuck out in the worst way and wanting to go home.

Anxiety disorder shouldn’t be used interchangeably with the feeling of anxiousness. Anxiety can be crippling like a giant wall stood between you and all the things that make you happy: relationships, food and school.

Her anxiety could have her choosing to distance herself from friends because at least that would be something she could control. She could do it first, before they gave up on her and then it wouldn’t hurt as much. Her anxiety could have her flinching at the slightest touch, wishing that there was an impenetrable bubble surrounding her. Her anxiety could have her scared to pick up her phone, her body so absorbed with the worry that perhaps no one has cared enough to text her or even worse… that someone has.

But some days she couldn’t feel it or at least it was only a ghost in the back of her mind. Like a rush of cold air on a hot day, it would fade, and she’d almost feel okay. Together with those who loved her, she felt less alone. She could go to that outing, reply to that message and walk to the shops on her own.

She was still a realist. She knew that it would come back like an unexpected visitor who you have no choice but to accommodate. She knew that she’d grab her blanket and sleep on the floor while Anxiety spreads itself across her bed.

Nonetheless, on these easier days, she treasured every moment as a subtle reminder that one day, even far into the future, she might stop feeling that way altogether.

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