When you hear the word ‘anxiety’ what thought comes to your mind?
Maybe you relate to it, perhaps you don’t understand it, or you feel like it has a stigma attached to it.
Anxiety is an “intense, excessive, and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Fast heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating, and feeling tired may occur” (Mayo Clinic).
It can affect and consume your everyday life.
I remember facing anxiety at a young age.
At four years old, I experienced the death of my newborn sister.
My outlook on life completely changed.
As a young girl, I saw life’s difficulties as I was quickly thrown into the complexities of grief and death.
I saw life as not safe, and every day I constantly worried that something terrible would happen.
I started to live life on the edge, waiting for something terrible to happen and coming to the conclusion that if you get too excited about something, something terrible is bound to happen. It got to the point where I would feel so worried and restless that I would make myself sick to avoid a situation where I thought something negative would be the result.
I was continually worried, and I couldn’t fully experience or embrace the ‘good’ that life and God had to offer me.
As I got older, anxiety followed me, and the fear and worries only intensified.
I continually felt out of control and unable to fully be myself, as I always thought of the worst-case scenario. Intrusive thoughts, irrational fears, and waking up in night sweats became my ‘normal.’ I’d experience frequent panic attacks that would erupt out of nowhere, where it felt like I couldn’t catch my breath. Laying on the bathroom floor, sobbing uncontrollably and living in fear seemed like something I would have to deal with for the rest of my life.
My emotions felt unmanageable.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (adaa.org).
You see, anxiety sneaks up on you. One second you feel okay, and the next, your palms are sweating, your mind won’t shut off, and you are feeling every emotion at once.
An estimated 275 million people suffer from anxiety disorders. That’s around 4% of the global population, with a spread of between 2.5% and 6.5% of the population per country (weforum.org).