People– friends, strangers, acquaintances, family– have interpretations of what an anxiety diagnosis is. Some think it’s just worrying a lot. Some think it’s silly. Some insinuate that I should just get over it and get on with life. Oh, if only I could. What is anxiety? I myself am puzzled by the beast that lives within me. I struggle to say what it is, but I know for sure what it isn’t.
Anxiety isn’t just feeling stressed out.
Anxiety isn’t a lack of trust in God.
Anxiety isn’t imagining the worst and becoming obsessed with it.
Anxiety isn’t something I can just wish away.
I believe that some people confuse anxiety with worry. I know I did. And believe me, I’m a worrier too. Worrying runs in my family. I do get stressed out and forget to trust God and imagine the worst. But that– that is called worry. Worry is something I can talk myself out of. Anxiety isn’t.
Anxiety isn’t predictable. It strikes when I’m mad, when I’m stressed; it strikes when I’m happy or excited, too. There’s no way of predicting when it will make an appearance. My brain seems to lack the filter that allows emotion to come out of me in a smooth, easy manner. Whether I feel like I want to strangle someone or I feel like I couldn’t feel more love than I possibly do– whether I am nervous about having to compete a task or tremendously excited about an upcoming event– whether I have to give someone bad news or I just want to tell a group of friends a funny story– Bam! I shake and I’m floating and I’m as stiff as a board and my chest hurts and I’m breathing too fast and I think I’m gonna pass out and it seems to last…. for….ever.
Nope, anxiety most definitely isn’t my friend. It preys on my introverted self and almost convinces me to hole up in my house and watch movies all day. But I won’t. I will keep on going to work and playing with my kids and visiting with friends. Because anxiety isn’t going to win.
It might play tricks on my brain and flare up at the most inopportune times and inconvenience me a whole heck of a lot.
But anxiety isn’t my life. There’s more to me then some stupid brain affliction. Anxiety isn’t my defining characteristic.
I write this blog and share my frustrations and try to muddle my way through and find paths that let me catch my breath for a moment. For now, anxiety is there. Anxiety is always lurking there. But someday, maybe, I can say that anxiety isn’t.