Anxiety is defined as “a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks,” in the New Oxford American Dictionary. It is the hardest thing to live with.
I’ve suffered from anxiety since I was little girl. I remember being in bed at night and not being able to sleep. I wasn’t able to shut my mind off even as a 7 year old. I was over at my dad’s house one weekend and it was nearly three in the morning and he saw that I was still up and asked why and I told him I just couldn’t make myself fall asleep. I was worried about nothing and about everything. He taught me a phrase in Arabic to recite anytime I felt that, the repetition would calm me down. I’ve been repeating that same phrase over and over to myself in every situation that I find myself nervous, scared, or can’t sleep in for the past 17 years.
I thought I would eventually outgrow my anxiety but as I got older it has only gotten worse. I work as much as I can and make as many plans as I can to keep myself busy. I try to stay distracted but it doesn’t work most of the time because I am always worried I am going to say or do the wrong thing at any given moment and upset somebody. I can’t even rest when I am by myself; I’m always on edge and I am always thinking about something. I live like that constantly.
My anxiety has manifested itself in many different forms: panic attacks, low self-esteem, depression, breathlessness, stress, and most of all over thinking. I’ve got a hand on most of those at this point in my life except for over-thinking. It is a constant, every day, every hour, struggle. People are CONSTANTLY telling me to stop over-thinking things and to just let it be. I CAN’T. Telling someone to stop over-thinking is like telling a fish to breathe out of water. You can do it for a minute but it’s a struggle. I can’t enjoy a simple conversation without worrying about what someone meant, or if someone looks at me I immediately think I’ve done something wrong, or if people aren’t talking to me that they dislike me. I know those things aren’t true in reality but in my head it is my truth, it is my normal. Anxiety creates problems that aren’t really there.
I stress over the smallest of things in life, like where to park. It seems so trivial but it literally sends me into panic. If I am going somewhere new I will ask someone who has been before where to park. I stress approaching doors, wondering if it is actually going to open or not. I won’t go to a restaurant for the first time by myself because I am worried about how to order. I lay in my bed at night, every single night, struggling to fall asleep worrying about the things I said during the day. It makes me unnecessarily independent because I can’t trust someone to do something for me. I constantly check in with them to see if they did it and they get upset because I’m being overbearing and showing a lack of trust. I understand that but because of my anxiety I have to constantly be reassured. If you make plans with me, I’m going to ask you every day until the hour before our plans to make sure we are still on. If I get stressed texting someone, I will triple text that person explaining myself and why I sent the previous text. I do that a lot with guys…I tend to scare them off because I come off as overbearing or too attached. But in reality, I just can’t help myself from over-thinking and trying to mend a situation that I created in my head and I come off as psycho clingy.
My anxiety has caused me to doubt who I am as a person. It causes me to question every little thing. It strips away my happiness and enjoyment. It dictates my whole life. For those of you reading this who struggle with anxiety, you understand what I am saying and I have the deepest sorrow that you have to suffer through this same anguishing thing. For those who don’t have anxiety, be grateful but also have more grace towards those suffering. Don’t tell them to stop over-thinking, instead pray for them or help them dissect the situation and see where the root of the insecurity causing that particular anxiety is.
My anxiety attacks me within my friendships, my family, my job, my whole life; it makes me feel like I will never be enough, that I will never be worthy.
It’s made me ask myself:
Do I really have friends?
Are people just using me?
Will I ever be enough for a guy?
Do people really like me or do they just feel sorry for me?
My anxiety makes me:
Worry about everything.
Doubt the intentions of others.
Stress over the small stuff.
Do everything perfectly.
Not trust others.
It’s taught me to fake it and act cool, calm, and collected when in reality on the inside I’m about to burst. I think I’ve learned to handle it will in social/public settings, but it’s when I’m by myself or texting that it gets me most. I don’t have someone next to me giving me a reality check so I’m living in my own world.
My anxiety rules my life. It’s not easy and I know being in my life is not easy. It means you have to deal with it too. So to my friends, thank you.
For those suffering with me, I pray for you. That you can find peace in this chaos and that you know that no matter what your brain attacks you with, you are enough. You are worthy. You are strong. And you are wonderfully made. God makes no mistakes. There are going to be easy days and there are going to be hard days but at the end of the day know that you made it through today and that is an accomplishment.