Being Anxious is Not Anxiety

It’s time that we REALLY talk about anxiety. Everyone experiences general anxiety: sweaty palms before a test, feeling queasy about public speaking, a fear of the unknown. These are common things to be anxious about and everyone experiences it. However, there is a BIG difference between being anxious and having anxiety. To better explain, I will try to take you through a normal moment in my day, and how my anxiety can alter the course of my day.

 

The other day, I was with my friends eating a delicious dinner at Panera. We were all laughing and joking and having an amazing time. My friends make me SO happy and I always feel safe and welcomed by them. However, while sitting in Panera, I suddenly got this feeling that something was wrong. I became hyper-aware of everything going on around me, and something just did not feel right. Suddenly, it felt as though someone was sitting on my chest, and no matter how hard I tried, and no matter how deep of a breath I took, I simply could not get enough air into my lungs. This shortness of breath caused me to become even more scared, and soon I was crying for absolutely no reason at all. My friends were asking what was wrong, and I simply did not have an answer. I hid in the bathroom on the floor for 20 minutes hyperventilating, as my friends told me that everything would be okay, even though that seemed impossible to believe. Then, suddenly, everything was fine again and life went back to normal.

 

This is not just being anxious or scared. Anxiety is frightening, sudden, and often times crippling. There have been several times when I couldn’t go to work because I was having such a monstrous anxiety attack.

 

This is not to say that normal anxiousness is to be laughed at or dismissed. I’m simply saying that there is a difference. Please, do not walk around saying you have “anxiety” simply because you’re nervous to give a speech in class. Our country is finally on its way to recognizing mental health, and by one person belittling anxiety, you are moving us two steps backward.