According to the NHS website, Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe.
Sounds so simple doesn’t it? Just a feeling of unease, like nerves or uncertainty. Just a niggling worry, an underlying fear. Something easy to deal with, to brush off. Take some deep breaths, pop a Xanax and get on with it. Keep calm and carry on.
If only it was that easy.
What about all the things that definition fails to tell you about anxiety?
Anxiety is walking into your favourite shop, only to immediately have to leave because you think you’re going to throw up.
It’s automatically looking for the exit whenever you enter a room, and positioning yourself at the edge of a crowd, to allow you to bet to safety when you need to.
It’s overreacting at the tiniest, most insignificant things (my personal favourite recently was a full on breakdown over a toothbrush), because you start panicking about absolutely nothing.
Anxiety is cancelling the plans you were desperate to attend, turning your phone on silent, and sitting in your room because you’re too scared to leave the house.
It’s being late to work, meetings and appointments, and putting up with disapproval or warnings because you’re too embarrassed to admit you couldn’t leave the house.
It’s switching from chill and relaxed to sweaty palms, pounding heart, and the overwhelming feeling that some has put your chest in a vice and is squeezing, to the point you’re convinced you’re dying.
It’s replaying conversations, scenarios, messages and looks over and over and over in your head, overthinking every glance, nuance and suggestion, seeing the bad in everything.
Anxiety is having people you thought understood telling you to simply take a pill, man up and get over it.
It’s isolating yourself from those you love, because even you don’t understand your feelings.
It’s a sense of inadequacy, overwhelming self doubt, negativity, and the assumption that things won’t ever be better.
It’s a ‘glamourous’ illness, appropriated by everyone who has ever had butterflies, and turns us into drama queens and