Anxiety. Definition: A modern cliché. At least this is how I feel anxiety is defined in today’s world. It seems that everyone I talk to suffers from “anxiety.”
Someone’s nervous about taking a test? Anxiety. Someone’s worried about getting accepted into their top college? Anxiety. Someone’s anxious about having troubles with their significant other? Anxiety. It’s as if people attribute every bit of stress to the legitimate and diagnosable issue that is anxiety.
And this is where I become frustrated. As someone who suffers from extreme and diagnosed anxiety, it’s incredibly upsetting and rather condescending to be looked at as a cliché – as a person who suffers from the same “anxiety” everyone else suffers from.
However, I don’t suffer the normal stress levels that the majority of people do, but rather an extreme amount that requires attention from a therapist and medication.
Now, I’m not looking for sympathy, but I do hope to inform people that real, genuine, non-situational and diagnosable anxiety is real and does not make you a cliché.
For a really long time, I felt so lost and confused regarding how I should cope with my anxiety.
I looked at my life and seriously wondered how I could suffer from such extreme anxiety – I have the most supportive friends and family, I live in a happy home, I go to an amazing school, and I’m a relatively happy person – so how could I complain?
However, it wasn’t until I started seeing a therapist that I was able to understand the reason behind my anxiety.
While anxiety is often caused by life events, it can also be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, which is what I have.
After learning the reason behind my anxiety, I was able to accept it, understand it and most importantly, not be ashamed of it. I now look at it as something I can improve rather than a flaw within myself.
Despite embracing this truth, I still feel frustrated by the reputation anxiety has in today’s world.
When I tell people that I suffer from anxiety, I imagine that they assume I’m simply stressed, when in reality they really have no idea what an anxiety disorder entails.
Having an anxiety disorder consists of incessant overthinking and overanalyzing, questioning yours and other’s actions, being stressed for reasons you can’t necessarily explain, and having panic attacks.
When working toward improving your mental health, the efforts must be consistent and genuine.
There is no one way to improve mental health, but there are multiple ways to lessen anxiety. Talk therapy, medication, group therapy and other approaches are all ways to lessen anxiety.
Having an anxiety disorder is a burden, and it requires an immense amount of effort for people to improve their mental health.
For these reasons and many others, having anxiety, depression or any other mental illness is NOT a cliché.