- You’re overreacting.
- Just calm down.
- There’s no reason to worry about this.
As a person who suffers from anxiety, these are the top three things I hear in my everyday life.
Chris Wood (aka Kai on Vampire Diaries or Mon-El on Supergirl) has recently come out with a new campaign called “I Don’t Mind” to raise awareness of mental illness, as well as throwing away the stigma of talking about it. So, instead of hiding mental illness from people and trying to suppress it…you talk about it.
I’m pretty open about it, but I suffer from bad anxiety. But, I never really talk about it in the most clear cut way. Since I am joining this campaign, I thought I’d break it down for you.
Anxiety is an ugly beast. The only way I can describe it is that I am constantly on an obstacle course that never stops. My day, consists of going through this same obstacle course over and over again.
Everyday it’s the same routine.
- Waking Up: I set 3 different alarms on my phone, because there was one time I slept through my alarm, so every time I set my alarm, I freak out because it could happen again…not too unreasonable.
- Getting ready for the day: I go through a minimum of 4 outfit changes, because with every outfit I find something to pick out that I don’t like. That part then sticks out like a sore thumb and if I don’t like it, of course everyone else will hate it. I have to do my makeup at the same time everyday out of fear that if I am a minute off, I will screw up the whole rest of my daily routine.
- Going to school: I live 15 minutes away from the school and I leave exactly and hour and ten minutes early everyday, because I’m worried I won’t find parking…at 8 a.m.
- At school: Rather than explain it, here are the string of thoughts that go in my head on repeat: “Oh my gosh everyone hates me,” “That was annoying, they think I’m annoying,” “I look fat,” “They’re definitely talking about me…I don’t know them but they are,” “I am failing at literally everything I am doing.”
- Drive Home: “I have so much to do between now and the time I have to go to bed and I’m not going to get any of it done.”…Normally, I have a minimum of 6 hours to do homework, gym, and work….
- Homework: “Well I’m going to fail.”
- Studying: “Still going to fail.”
- Work: “They all hate me, I’m going to get fired, they’re annoyed, nothing I am doing is right.”
- Free Time: Trying to distract myself from thinking that none of my friends like me, I’m going to get fired, I will never get a job, I’m never going to find love and then, a constant battle of trying not to let my anxious thoughts turn into an anxiety attack.
Combine all of this with the 100 reminders I keep on my phone to remind me to do minimal tasks such as “eat lunch”, there is still the fact that at least twice a week during school or at work, I get an anxiety attack. One where I look completely fine, but will start scribbling on notebooks, leaving the room, rapid fire bouncing my leg up and down, or doing things to distract me because otherwise I will burst into tears. Meanwhile, my mind is going through that scene in Spongebob where his whole brain catches on fire. These attacks are the epitome of ‘I’m screaming and no one can hear me’.
Nothing alleviates a person’s anxiety. The sentences “it’s all going to be fine”, “you’re overreacting”, and “don’t worry about it” are the same as putting a Band-Aid on a bullet would…unfortunately, it’s not going to do what you want it to do.
I don’t want sympathy, because your sympathy won’t do anything. I don’t want reassurance, because your reassurance doesn’t do anything. Instead, I just want someone there, understanding.
I live in Los Angeles where everything is romanticized. Anxiety is romanticized. Depression is romanticized. Mental illnesses gets romanticized and in turn cause the people who suffer, to be “overdramatic,” “negative,” and “self-obsessed”…and these are only three of the adjectives I had a “best friend” tell me after having an anxiety attack.
So yes, I have anxiety. At least once, I have thought every one of my friends didn’t actually like me. I have to get up on airplanes to check that my bag is still in the overhead compartment. I have to lock my doors 3 times to make sure they’re locked. I have to arrive places early to ensure that I’ll be there and get parking. I have to have headphones with me at all times, because if I am in a group setting I have to put headphones in to avoid talking to people, because I’m worried they won’t even talk to me in general.
I am constantly running an obstacle course that I don’t want to be on. So yes, I have anxiety, and while I do mind having it, “I DON’T MIND” talking about it.