Let me just start off with saying that mental disorders such as depression and anxiety are NOT commodities or personality traits, and you shouldn’t romanticize them or wish to have them yourself. I’ve seen countless people self-diagnose – which, can I say is EXTREMELY unhealthy and can lead to you imagining symptoms which aren’t there. I’ve also met people who say they have anxiety and completely misunderstand what it is. Obviously, people’s brains are wired differently and therefore affect them differently however this is a completely different case. Being shy around people you first meet is NOT anxiety. Overthinking is NOT anxiety. Slight panic and worrying is NOT anxiety.
I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder. It’s hard to explain what it is, as the wiki definition doesn’t quite cover it. Many mental illnesses have symptoms which cross over, so having the obsessiveness and ritualisms of OCD doesn’t necessarily mean you have it. If you suffer from panic attacks you can probably relate to the feeling of a mini car crash which manifests itself in some part of your body. For me, it’s the stomach. Sometimes it is due to stress at work, college or when talking to people. Often, it’s for no reason at all, which is really fucking irritating. Especially when people ask you what’s wrong and you don’t even know yourself.
I have had this diagnosis for about a year and a half now. Before I knew it was anxiety, it felt like I was going insane. I didn’t know what panic attacks where, or how to deal with them, so whenever they happened I would panic more, thus making the situation worse. I did not understand what was going on, so I wouldn’t talk to friends about it. It didn’t help that I had the most selfish and unsympathetic best friend at that time. Trust me when I say that bottling things up just makes everything worse. Anxiety is quite a common mental disorder, so chances are that you know somebody who may have it. Even if they don’t, talking about it to a friend or family member can make you feel less crazy. It certainly did for me.
Not everyone’s experience of anxiety is the same. Some only have it socially, or in one aspect of their live. If you have anxiety, you probably suffer from:
Paranoia or moments of extreme panic
Uncontrollable crying and/or hyperventilating
Severe mood swings
Increased heart beat
If you find yourself agreeing with more than half of these, or the NHS definition, try and seek help as soon as possible. If you’re under 16, talk to someone at home about it, or if you don’t feel comfortable, ring 111 which is the NHS helpline. I did this several times and they really helped me realise what to do in situations of panic. You can also place yourself on the waiting list for CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) which is where you can talk to medical professionals and mental health nurses, who sometimes prescribe you with medication, if needed. I don’t know what I would have done without CAMHS. If you or someone you know may be suffering, don’t bottle it up.
Photo from here.