Anxiety is depression’s evil twin; where one can be found, the other lurks nearby. They work as a team, pairing up to make your path of healing follow longer, unpaved roads. Imagine yourself sinking in sand; the depression is the sand that is holding you down, the anxiety is piling more on top to make sure you stay there. There is nothing to grab onto to pull you up, and no matter how hard you fight you end up buried.
Anxiety is an emotion that most people will feel at least once in their lives. For some, this anxiety is situational and when the trauma or loss has healed, the anxiety is either lessened or gone. For me and many other people, that same anxiety is not only heightened but prolonged, and does not always need a “situation” for it to occur.
Anxiety has its own unique voice in my head which causes added stress and worry. It makes me overthink every moment of every day. It makes me question not only all the things I have done in the past but all the things I am doing now, and plan to do in the future. Anxiety causes me to doubt the simplest of decisions, and often prevents me from making any in the first place. It takes a normal situation like a resolved argument with a friend or family member, and forces me to question if it is really resolved or not. Something like a text not being answered in an “appropriate” time frame can blow my feelings disproportionately out of control. Imagine walking by a group of strangers that are laughing and your first instinct is not that someone must have said something funny, but that they must be laughing at you. That is what anxiety can do
The scale of anxiety ranges from a rapid heartbeat and tightness in your chest to a full blown, debilitating panic attack. I would like to say mine is somewhere in the middle, however it is exacerbated by my BPD which slides me up the scale a bit. There is no chilling out, or relaxing or even calming down, and telling me to do so is definitely an unwelcome idea.
Anxiety makes me think poorly of myself. It makes me think I am unwanted and unloved and reminds me constantly of the life I had “before” my illness. It makes me wonder if I am good enough to have friends and what they and everyone else thinks of me. It makes me afraid and nervous to attempt anything out of my comfort zone, with the dreaded fear of failure looming. It sometimes feels like the world is closing in on me, and there is nowhere for me to escape. It can be emotionally draining, frustrating and exhausting.
The stigma surrounding anxiety is not conducive to healing. The comments… “Just cheer up”, “it’s all in your head” or “life’s too short to be sad and afraid”, all may be said with good intentions, but are the last things I want to hear. Do you not think that if I, or anyone for that matter, could “just cheer up”, we would do so as there is no enjoyment in anxiety? There is no pleasure in keeping quiet in a conversation because I am afraid my words will be judged. There is no fun in the fear that is felt when I am put in the spotlight or made the center of attention. The worst part about this relentless source of negativity and doubt is that rationally you know it is lying but you just can’t quell the voice.