It happens sporadically, unknowingly and at irregular intervals.
Sometimes, I’m scrolling through my Facebook feed when all the sudden, I feel my head start to cloud-and then it feels like it’s going to erupt.
It’s like your body feels as if it’s trying to escape itself, as it slowly begins to go numb.
Your heart rate begins to pace, rapidly as it speeds and you feel your entire body enter “the chills.”
Five seconds later, you break into a sweat.
You feel like you are about to die.
But, you won’t.
Do I sound crazy? Probably.
But I’m not.
I’ve suffered from anxiety for almost 8 years now. Progressively as I’ve gotten older, they’ve gotten worse. With the incoming of new stresses of adulthood like bills, college, student loans, job searches, career choices and growing up, my anxiety has also grown along with it, to a point where it has almost taken over my life.
When you suffer from an illness or impairment, it’s never easy to talk about or discuss with others. You feel embarrassed, ashamed, almost as if people will judge you for it. You don’t want to be the one who is the downer on plans because you just can’t go to the club or the bar tonight, you don’t want to be that friend that ruins the plans.
But, I have severe anxiety, and I have to own that.
Running from my problems will only make them worse. According to psychologists, one of the first steps of combating attacks is accepting the anxiety attack and owning it.
Looking back, I’ve lost a lot of friends due to my anxiety.
When you suffer from a disorder that changes who you are, you start to learn who are your real friends and who are just there for themselves. You realize that the people who really matter will make the effort.
1) They won’t make you feel ashamed.
When you go through something that causes your everyday to be a struggle, you start to fade out of the person you once were. When you change, your friends will start to notice this change in you. A lot of times, they’ll confront you about it and want to know what is going on. A true friend will understand and have empathy towards your situation. They should never make you feel badly about having a real problem. It may not be the most convenient thing for them, but it’s about you and your health, not about them and their priorities.
2) They’ll want to help you.
A real friend will want to help you and understand what you’re going through. They’ll ask you questions and try to see things from your point of view, they won’t think you’re crazy and just wipe you off as crazy or insane. People have to understand that anxiety disorders are a mental condition, and just as important and hard to deal with, as any physical illness would be.
3) They understand when you just can’t make plans.
If you suffer from bad anxiety, sometimes even going out is a struggle. Your friends should understand when you aren’t able to make it out to a bar, a club, or even go out to dinner. Some days are easy, others are really hard to handle. But, if you have good people by your side, they will recognize and know when you’re having a hard time. A real friend won’t fault you for not being able to go out, but instead try and compromise to stay in with you one night.
4) They will do their own research on the disorder.
It’s important that people do their own research on anxiety and learn what it’s like. From someone who suffers from it firsthand, I would never want anyone else to go through the mass panic attacks and unbearable tension that I go through on a regular basis, however, to understand and have compassion, it’s key to read up on what it’s like to go through something as debilitating as this. Maybe then, it will be easier to understand and relate.
5) They will always be there.
No matter what life throws you, if someone is a genuine friend and good person, they will be there through thick and thin. Life is crazy and hectic and sometimes the unknown just happens to pop up, but that doesn’t mean people should run away. A true person will stay by your side and want to help you in anyway possible during this time. They’ll want to stay in with you, all equip with popcorn and Netflix because that’s what your body can handle right now. They’ll understand that you can’t go out binge drinking with them because you’re trying new medication and they won’t judge you for it either.
Anxiety can be something that is unbearable, that weakens you and makes it difficult to just live a normal, everyday life. While dealing with it is hard enough, it shouldn’t hinder the relationships you have in your life and add even more stress and anxiety to your plate. Sometimes, anxiety can be seen as a blessing; it’ll teach you who is worth your time and who just isn’t.