What Anxiety Actually Is And What It Isn’t


It seems like every time I open my Facebook app to check up on friends and family, I see another blog post or journal article about anxiety.

As I read through them I start to relate my own struggles to everyone else’s. If my experiences don’t seem to match up with an article says, I feel that I’m not ‘normal’. The truth is that there is no universal normal for how you and I experience our anxiety.

1. My anxiety is a mental disorder.

I am not making it up. I am not pretending to be sick to get out of doing things. It is a very real, mental and physical disorder. Medical news today states that “when neurotransmitters are not working properly, the brain’s internal communication network breaks down, and the brain may react in an inappropriate way in some situations”(2015).

Anxiety isn’t being crazy or annoying, it is a real biological disorder. I can’t stress enough that you are not alone. There are so many resources and tools out there to manage anxiety in a healthy way. It is not being crazy, it is something that should get medical attention if it gets too severe or unmanageable.

2. My anxiety is exhausting.

Most days I want to curl up in bed and sleep away my anxiety. It is mentally and physically exhausting. My mind never stops. If I’m not thinking about the family I’m probably thinking about work.

If I’m not thinking about work I’m probably thinking about made up scenarios that have no truth.

And if I’m not thinking at all, I’m probably counting. It’s a nonstop cycle that is absolutely exhausting.

3. My anxiety is looked down upon.

I can’t even begin to tell you how any times I have felt looked down upon because I have anxiety.

I specifically remember sitting in the doctor’s office telling him about how I had started counting. I counted steps, objects, and features. I counted when I had down time with nothing to fill the space. It took a lot for me to explain that to anyone, and it’s still hard for me now.

The doctor looked at me like I was crazy and said ‘you really need to relax.’

I could not believe what I was hearing. Anyone could have told me that, and I have said that to myself over and over for years.

After that day I have found peace in the fact that I cannot control the actions or reactions of others. Don’t let the options of the world hinder you from getting help and working through your struggles.

People may not understand what you are going through, but there is a support system out there for you if you truly seek it.

4. My anxiety is a blessing.

As much as I hate all of the things that go on because of my anxiety, I have learned so much about who I am. I am strong. I am capable of overcoming. I am loved. I am confident in those statements because of my anxiety and the toll that it takes on me.

Despite the counting, illness, and exhaustion, I still keep going. I would never have learned to push through my struggles if it weren’t for my anxiety. It is a blessing in disguise at times, but it truly has changed me for the better.

5. My anxiety isn’t who I am.

I am not my bad days.

I am not counting or shaking, or panic attacks. I am a young woman who has a wonderful boyfriend, a loving family, a stable job, and supportive friends. I am not defined by my anxiety.

I am so much more than how I feel on my bad days.

I will not let one bad day turn into one bad week, month, or year.

I will be gentle and patient with myself, and learn to grow day in and day out. My anxiety is not who I am.

6. My anxiety isn’t an excuse.

I will be the first person to admit it, I am extremely hard on myself. I have worked very hard to find ways to push past the daily struggles I face.

I try my best not to blame everything on my anxiety.

I try to stay strong despite the battles going on in my mind. But, some days I really cannot keep going.

Please keep in mind that on these days, my anxiety is not an excuse. It has been become too much to handle. I truly do need to be where I am comfortable and able to rest.

7. My anxiety isn’t going away.

This is such an important thing to remember. I have had my anxiety for 8 years now. It is not going away. I have to find ways to cope, learn, and grow into a successful person despite all of my struggles.

Finding these outlets will help me to stay healthy and strong. Check out my next post for ways to handle anxiety in productive and healthy ways!