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What It's Really Like Living With Anxiety

Sharing my struggles with an invisible monster

By Margaret PanPublished 3 years ago 4 min read
What It's Really Like Living With Anxiety
Photo by Motoki Tonn on Unsplash

Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses worldwide.

So common, yet so misunderstood.

Everybody has heard of it but few really understand it. Usually, when you tell someone you suffer from anxiety, they think you just feel anxious easier or more often than most people.

“I wouldn’t call feeling easily anxious a mental illness.”

Yes, I’ve actually heard that phrase — multiple times.

And that’s okay. It’s not easy to understand something that doesn’t affect you. It took me a long time to realize the reason behind my unexpected and overwhelming stress in everyday situations.

Then it took me even more to accept it.

The inability to function properly in any social situation. The gradual withdrawal to yourself. The feeling of fear never leaving your side.

So, it’s you, anxiety. Nice to meet you.

Acknowledging you struggle with anxiety, means you can finally tell people, “I’m not just feeling nervous. I’m battling something that’s so much more than that.”

Anxiety Feels Like You’re Never Good Enough

Anxiety tells you no matter how hard you’ll try, you’ll never be good enough.

Not smart enough. Not pretty enough. Not strong enough.

For nothing. For no one.

Want to land the job of your dreams? You don’t have the qualifications — you need extra education, even more experience. Why would someone hire you and not somebody else?

Want to nail your exams? That’s no mean feat — you probably haven’t studied enough. Or, maybe you just don’t have the brains. There’s always gonna be a better student than you.

Oh, and that boy/girl you like? They might never take you seriously or choose to be with you, out of all those other, perfectly looking human beings

Anxiety is always by your side, saying all kinds of bad things, making you feel worthless, unimportant, and a complete failure.

“Living with anxiety is like being followed by a voice. It knows all your insecurities and uses them against you. It gets to the point when it’s the loudest voice in the room. The only one you can hear.” — Unknown

Anxiety Feels Like Everyone’s Laughing at You

You know that feeling when you pass next to a group of strangers and they suddenly burst out laughing — and you think the reason they’re laughing is you?

With anxiety, you feel like that all the time.

You’re afraid of speaking in front of people out of fear of forgetting your speech or misspelling a word.

You’re afraid of trying to do something new in front of strangers because you think they’re gonna laugh at how bad you look trying to do it.

You stumble against the road and feel like everyone’s watching you, thinking how stupid and careless you must be.

For a long time, I was extremely self-conscious, constantly worried about what people would think about me or my actions. I was thinking that people were laughing at me when I was trying to do a weightlifting exercise in the gym or when I was practicing a dance move.

In reality, people weren’t even looking.

Anxiety Feels Like the People Around You Will Abandon You Sooner or Later

Anxiety is a person’s worst enemy when it comes to their relationships with other people. That’s because it’s always whispering in your ear, “trust no one.”

You start to question everyone’s intentions, motives, and feelings. Your friend or partner not messaging you back? Or even worse, canceling your plans? You immediately think they’re tired of you. You’re sure they’re about to leave you, abandon you forever.

You’re enormously jealous every single time your partner goes out with their friends because you think they’re gonna meet someone they like and choose them over you.

Sometimes you think that even your parents, the people who are supposed to love you unconditionally, might wish they had a different kid.

In French essayist Anaïs Nin’s words:

“Anxiety is love’s greatest killer. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.”

Anxiety Feels Like You’re Bound to Fail in Everything You Do

I often hesitated to start anything new and different or to make even the slightest change in my everyday life. That’s because, even if you’re about to do the simplest thing, like going to a job interview or going on a date, anxiety makes you feel you’re bound to fail.

That you’ll somehow screw everything up. And every mistake or setback feels like proof that you will fail.

I’ve turned down dozens of dates out of fear that the other person wouldn’t like me if they got to know the real me. I’ve turned down job offerings, thinking I wasn’t ready to take on a great amount of responsibility.

Overall, I’ve missed various chances to do things that would be fun, important, or valuable for me ’cause I thought I would screw things up sooner or later.

In other words, I succumbed to the feeling of fear anxiety creates. And I let this fear control a huge part of my life. I once stumbled upon a quote that described perfectly my situation:

“Anxiety is practicing failure in advance. Anxiety is needless and imaginary. It’s fear about fear, fear that means nothing.” — Seth Godin

Anxiety Feels Like You’re Never Gonna Be Normal

As I’m writing this, a thought keeps dancing around in my head: “Hell, I’m so not normal.” What will normal people think about me after reading this?

But, the reason I’ve been able to write this, is that I’ve managed to get to the point of accepting myself and the somewhat different way my mind and body react to things.

Yes, anxiety makes you feel like you’re not normal. But does it really matter?

What does matter, is working with yourself on improving your well-being as much as possible.

Whether people will accept you or not is their problem and something you won’t really care about after you’ve accepted yourself.

It’s okay not to be normal. Normal is boring, anyway.

Trust yourself. You’ve survived a lot, and you’ll survive whatever is coming.

– Robert Tew


About the Creator

Margaret Pan

Words have power.

I write about relationships, psychology, personal development, and books.

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