Some people who don’t suffer with anxiety sometimes have a difficult time understanding what having anxiety really means. “Everyone feels anxious” is a common phrase uttered when those with anxiety try to explain what they’re experiencing.
The problem is, that when someone has experienced anxiety as a disorder for such a long time, they either don’t know or forget what living without anxiety feels like. Which can sometimes lead to the assumption that the phrase “everyone feels anxious” means that they are exaggerating their experience and associated feelings.
Everyone who has anxiety feels anxious, but not everyone who feels anxious has anxiety. While for some it might be hard to distinguish, there are a few things that anxiety will do that feelings of anxiety won’t:
Anxiety Keeps Us Awake For No Reason
This doesn’t refer to thinking about stressful situations while we’re trying to get to sleep, that’s a whole other phenomenon. Anxiety will, without encouragement, puts the body into a state of “fight or flight” and just leaves the motor running while it goes to smoke a few cigarettes outside.
Sometimes stressful thoughts and memories can crop up as a result of feeling this “fight or flight”, or worse, snowball into an avalanche of negative thought. But the feeling can and will instigate itself without prompt, and will keep us awake for as long as it likes.
Anxiety Simulates The Worst Case Scenario Of Every Action We Make
Everyone worries about bad stuff happening though, don’t they? Of course, it’s a sensible part of any decision-making process when the activity or choice has its risks. But we’re not talking about whether or not to go sky-diving, here.
Tasks as simple as crossing a road, walking into a store, or going for a bike ride can trigger a myriad of worst-case scenarios that overwhelm some people. It’s no easy task trying to enjoy your day when you’ve already come up with twelve different ways that you and/or your family could meet a terrible demise.
I must stress that things like this usually happen on the worst days, but it is no less a traumatic experience just because we are not experiencing it 24/7.
Anxiety Can Lead To Panic Attacks
Again, during some of the worst days, the result of anxiety can be one or more panic attacks. These manifest in different ways for different people, but in some cases, panic attacks can consist of experiencing repressed memories for a short period of time. Often, these attacks can have a person feeling as though they are about to die.
Naturally, as we have no control over when panic attacks occur, and because they can be triggered by stress, we can get them at the most inconvenient times. In my personal experience, I used to get them at a past workplace which would sometimes cause issues with management who believed I was over-exaggerating my mental health problems. These unstoppable, unpredictable, and often traumatic experiences also have the capacity to affect our work lives as well as our personal lives.
I hope this adequately explains how anxiety and feeling anxious are different, and that anyone who believes their anxiety is a consequence of their “overreaction” can give themselves the self-care they deserve. Don’t downplay your own experiences to make other people comfortable.
Thanks for reading! Did you know I also write urban fantasy books? Check them out here!