9 Things You Don’t Know About Anxiety Disorders

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Everyone has anxiety. Whether it be worrying too much, or testing anxiety, or small phobias—everyone can relate. But when someone has an anxiety disorder, his or her entire world is different. Here’s how:

1. When someone has an anxiety disorder, small things become big things.

Scratch that, small things become HUGE things.

Every single moment of every single day replays in their head. Why did I do that? Why didn’t I do this? It’s a giant circle of events replaying in their head from mistake to mistake, no matter how “small” it may seem to anyone else.

2. With an anxiety disorder, you focus SO much on the things you did WRONG that you don’t even remember the things you did RIGHT.

Instead of thinking about the nice gesture you made by holding the door for someone, you end up thinking about the  face you made while doing so. Why did I make that face? He or She probably thinks I’m weird.

Sometimes you become so weighted down on the negative things in your life, that you can’t even swim up to see the surface of it anymore. You have good days and bad days, but the good days are rarely seen in light. Because everything you do wrong adds up, while everything you did right is just whisked away.

3. When someone is even just mildly upset with you, it feels like the end of the world.

When you have an anxiety disorder, disappointing or upsetting someone is one of your biggest fears. You want to impress everyone—even though you KNOW that’s impossible. You will go to hell and back to make someone happy, even though it means risking your own happiness. And when someone is upset with you, especially if it’s someone you genuinely care about, there goes all reasonability and here comes the extremes. She HATES me. I’m NEVER going to being to fix this. WHY did I do that? Why doesn’t she like me? Probably because of this…and this…and this…WHAT is wrong with ME?

You don’t just think about the thing you did that made that person upset, you think about EVERY reason that she could EVER be upset with you.

4. Arguments are even worse.

Every line of an argument is repeated in your head, for essentially forever. Even after years, she’ll still remember the fight she had with her mom, and even though it doesn’t matter anymore, she will remember every single word and every single feeling associated with it.

Every time her mom is upset, that one fight comes back. And then it keeps piling it up.

You don’t just “get over” things. It’s nearly impossible. You have to analyze and discuss every single second of every single argument. It’s generally exhausting, but you don’t know why you do it.

5. When someone has an anxiety disorder, there no such things as “good decisions.”

Whether it’s a moral decision, or picking out the right cereal to buy at the store, no decision is rated “good.” When someone with an anxiety disorder tries to make a decision, she could stand in the aisle of the store for hours weighing the decision out. If I buy this…then…But I could get that…but If I buy that then…and repeat.

Every decision takes act of congress within their head, because every single decision is pretty much “life or death.”

6. Subsequently, when that decision is wrong…that decision is wrong because of YOU.

The decision made isn’t wrong; YOU are wrong. Your entire being is WRONG. When you have an anxiety disorder, anything wrong ultimately becomes your fault, even when it isn’t. No matter how many times someone tells you it isn’t, there’s a tiny person in your head saying that it is. You can’t just block that person out; that person can taunt you all your life.

And of course, if you make a mistake,  it’s not taken lightly. Like I said before, it becomes a cycle of thinking about it and then blaming yourself over and over and over and over again.

7. When you have an anxiety disorder, your life becomes a soap opera.

Everything is exaggerated. Every small feeling hurts ten times more. Every thing that goes wrong is a hundred times more wrong. And, because of that, you make it even worse. Crying “every now and then” is an understatement. It just seems like it will never end.

How would do you think you would react if everything was your fault— if everything you did was wrong? Well, that’s how people with anxiety feel almost 99.9% of the time.

8. Someone with an anxiety disorder is always worried. 

About “stupid” things. As said before, everything seems like its life or death. They constantly think about their futures, and their pasts. How big of an impact their past mistakes will be, or their decisions in the future. Everything becomes SO important, and it’s completely overwhelming.

And it takes A LOT to learn how to cope with this, because half the time when you’re worried about something, you’re also worried about how you’re going to cope with your anxiety. What kind of sick joke is that?

9. With an anxiety disorder, it feels like everyone is constantly judging you.

When you’re around people, it seems like everyone is staring at you. It feels like everyone has something to say about  you that they keep in their heads. You’re constantly making up reasons why people don’t like you, even if they’re not real. It’s hard to be in big crowds. It’s hard to be social, even if it’s just shopping at the mall, because you feel like everyone is thinking about your style, or how you’re dressed, or what your hair looks like, or your make up, or anything. That’s why it’s hard to go out. That’s why it’s hard to socialize. That’s why it’s hard to be “normal.”

So, next time, you come across someone with an anxiety disorder think about these nine things. Remember that it’s not easy. They don’t just “make it all up.” They are real feelings, just like yours. Yes, they are a bit exaggerated, and they are hard to “deal” with. But, the first step to helping people with these disorders is just understanding them. So, please, before you make judgements and assumptions about people with these disorders, know that doing so would only be making them worse.

Thanks for reading,

Yin Chen

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