By Kimberly Zapata
When most people hear the word anxiety, they think of the condition in its most extreme form. They imagine Hollywood-like portrayals of an attack, things like trembling, shaking, and breathing into a paper bag. But anxiety is more than restlessness, hypervigilance, and erratic breathing. Anxiety takes control of your body. It causes your vision to blur, your heart to race, and your stomach to turn.
You feel a general sense of discomfort and unease.
Anxiety causes your body to feel flush, and you break out in a cold sweat. You sweat so much it soaks your clothes.
Anxiety causes your chest to tighten. You struggle to breathe.
But most of the time, anxiety is more subtle — and more insidious.
It is days spent Googling potential catastrophes. I’ve had cancer, diagnosed my daughter with appendicitis, and was sure my newborn son had RSV.
I thought he was going to be hospitalized and intubated.
It is nights spent “sleeping” with your eyes open, believing every sound is that of an intruder and wondering how you’ll escape. I’ve worried where my family will go, or where we can hide.
It is insecurity. I ask my husband a dozen times a day if he loves me because I believe he can’t love me. How could he possibly love me?
Anxiety turns unanswered calls or texts into “statements.” It makes you believe your friends and family are annoyed by you. It makes you believe they do not care about you, and suddenly their silence is proof they hate you.
Everyone hates you.
Anxiety is crippling and irrational fears. You cannot get on plane because it may crash. You cannot go to a work event because you are uninteresting and unimportant. What could you possibly add to a conversation. And you cannot leave your house because anxiety is worry.
Anxiety is stress.
Anxiety is picked skin, chewed lips, and bit nails. It is ticks and habits which you use to try and keep your symptoms at bay.
Oh, and did I mention anxiety makes you believe everything is your fault?
But anxiety is also a con artist. It is deceptive. It is deceitful. Anxiety lies.
So if you are struggling today, remember: You are good enough. You are strong enough. You are smart enough, and you are brave because you keep going. You keep living and, in spite of it all, you keep fighting.
Don’t give up.