What Anxiety Actually Feels Like, Because It’s Worse Than Just Feeling ‘Stressed’


It’s waking up at 3 am feeling like your throat is clogged up. It’s quietly going upstairs to take a Benadryl because you know that if you don’t, you’ll be awake until your alarm clock goes off. It’s trying to take slow breaths like your therapist told you to do. Why isn’t it working?

It’s always wondering if what you are feeling is anxiety, or if you are in fact dying.

It’s tossing and turning and sighing heavily to try to get your mind off of everything. It’s turning on your night stand lamp and writing ideas down for work because your head feels like it will explode if you don’t get it all out right then and there.

It’s wondering why your brain is so fucked up. It’s looking at the clock and watching it tick away while you’re trying to close your eyes and just calm down.

But you can’t just ‘calm down’.

It’s feeling the little pink pill slide down your throat and praying it will make you finally fall asleep. It’s googling ‘how to fall asleep when you have anxiety’ even though you know none of the advice will help.

It’s tearing up out of frustration because your body is so tired. It’s so tired, and you can’t give it what it needs. You can’t give it the rest it needs. Because your brain is so wide awake and buzzed. Your brain doesn’t give a damn about you. 

And. It. Never. Stops.

It’s wondering if you should up your dose on your anxiety medication. It’s wondering if five years from now, you will still be feeling this way. It’s wondering if you will always have to take medication to feel somewhat normal. Is that normal? And then you remember that you’re not normal.

It’s taking tiny gasps of air, wondering if this is how fish feel when they are stuck on land. It’s throwing the comforter over your head to try to make this night go away. It’s picking and biting at your fingers to try to distract yourself from the tingles that are running up and down your limbs.

You feel your legs go numb and google once again ‘symptoms of anxiety’.

It’s still feeling like the world is ending even though you’ve suffered from anxiety since high school. It’s still not ever getting used to this. Who could get used to this? Nights like these never get any easier.

Anxiety is climbing a steep mountain through a blizzard. It’s trying to swim in a tsunami. It’s trying to breathe where trees have stopped growing. It’s trying to stay alive in the Sahara desert. It’s trying so hard to smile when tears flood your face. It’s trying so hard to be okay when you’re not okay.

Will this breath be my last breath I ever take? 

And just like that you wake up, exhausted from the night before. You don’t want to get out of bed, in fear you’ll feel your throat tighten again. In fear it will be hard to breathe.

You’re always living and breathing in paralyzing fear.

Sometimes it goes away. Some nights, you sleep perfectly. And on those days and nights, you forget about it all. You forget about the tingling hands and the 3 am panic attacks.

But deep down you know those nights will always come back. The panic will always come back. No matter how long it’s been. No matter how happy you are. No matter how much you love your job. No matter how solid you have become.

Anxiety always comes back