I have anxiety.  You might think the extent of this is simply getting nervous about giving a presentation to the class, or making a doctor’s appointment over the phone.  While I do get anxious about these things, having anxiety is far more complicated.  Having anxiety is knowing that if you don’t take that tiny white pill, a good moment could suddenly be thrown off by what seems like the most trivial event.  Having anxiety means that each day presents a new challenge that I have to adapt to and learn to deal with.

My alarm goes off, I pick out my outfit, swipe some mascara onto my lashes, and pull my hair back with a scrunchie that coordinates with my shirt.  On my way to class, I grab a coffee, usually with a shot of caramel, and still make it to the lecture hall with ten minutes to spare.  I wave to my friends in passing, the smile on my face giving the illusion that I don’t have a worry in the world.  From the outside, it’s easy to think I have it all together.  On the inside, though, it’s a completely different story.

Having anxiety feels like a constant race against my own thoughts.  I can see the finish line, but I fall short a few meters before I can reach it.  One moment, my thoughts are moving at the speed of light, taunting me and laughing in my face as I try to gather them in a sensible way.  The next moment, I’m fixated on one thought, the worst possible case scenario, so much so that I don’t realize I’m picking at the skin on my lips or biting my nails down to the quick.  The world moves inexplicably fast, and in an instant, it’s like I can feel it rotating on its axis.

Having anxiety feels like I can never catch my breath, like no matter how hard I try, I can’t fill my lungs with the air they so desperately crave.  It feels like my tongue is walking on a tightrope, like anytime I speak I might fall into an abyss that is the unknown.  Can they also hear my heart beating faster and harder than anyone’s ever should?  Do they know that as words flow from my mouth, blood is crashing through my veins and causing an unpleasantly warm sensation to cover every inch of my body?

The issue with anxiety is that more often than not, there is no actual issue.  The simple explanation is that my thoughts spiral out of control and before I can tell myself that everything will be okay, my palms are sweating and my brain is in overdrive.  There is a lump in my throat that I can’t seem to swallow and my muscles tense up at the thought of finding a rhyme or reason to my thoughts.  

Despite the struggles that anxiety presents, I can say with absolute certainty that my life has changed for the better because of it.  Some days are great, and some days are horrible, but each day, I am reminded of my strength and my ability to overcome the obstacles that anxiety puts in my path.  If you also struggle with anxiety, know that you are not alone… “Your mind is your prison when you focus on your fear.”