My Life with Anxiety Disorder

I suffer from an anxiety disorder. Social Anxiety Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) to be quite specific.

I like to be alone, most times. I love to do things on my own. And think things through. All on my own.

There’s this peace I get from being on my own.

But on the other hand, I can’t stand to be alone most times. Contradictory, yes.

There are times I get so overwhelmed by anxiety, I have to be around people. I feel claustrophobic in my room and I want to be let out.

It’s like a cage most times.

I sit on my own and I feel anxiety coming on like a cloak. I run out of my room or wherever I am and seek human contact if only to keep the anxiety at bay.

One time, I was sitting with friends. We were talking and laughing and all that. I was in the middle of a deep discussion with one of the guys. I was trying to get my mind off things. Off my life.

All of a sudden, one of my girlfriends butted in and took over the conversation. I went mute.

Not only do I suffer from anxiety disorder, but I also suffer from low self-esteem and this feeling of martyrdom. I don’t know the real name for it. It’s a story for another day.

But as I sat and watched them talk, I got this huge feeling of anxiety. My palms were sweating. My heart was beating fast. I couldn’t breathe properly. It felt like the world was coming into me.

I wanted to come out of my skin. And thoughts were accompanying these feelings. Thoughts I can’t even remember. I just know there were lots of thoughts swirling in my mind.

I just wanted to leave. To where? I didn’t know.

But I was panicky. My chest was constricted and it hurt. My legs were vibrating.

But I couldn’t tell anyone what was happening to me right in front of them. They wouldn’t understand. I just stared unseeing in front of me.

My brain probably shut down but it was still working a mile a minute.

I was in the middle of an anxiety attack. And no one knew. I couldn’t even communicate what I was feeling for fear of being mocked and ridiculed.

Till today, I don’t know what caused the attack. It could have been because my friend butting into the conversation meant I had to think those thoughts I’d been hiding from.

It could have been because I felt I was no longer in control of the conversation. Or it could have been that I had repressed anger at my friend for intruding…

I don’t know. And I probably never will.

But what I do know is that these attacks come at the oddest of times. I get it most times. And I see myself through it.

Anxiety is hard to explain to a second party especially one who hasn’t dealt with it before.

There are different types of anxiety. And they are all characterized by the inability of the person suffering from it (I refused to call us victims) to communicate how or what they feel.

What also makes it hard to communicate with others is the fact that they may judge you before or after you try explaining to them.

I had a friend who always seemingly joked that I talked too much. That I was always with someone talking or doing something. That I couldn’t sit still.

I explained to her that funny enough, I like being on my own. But sometimes I just had to be around people. But instead of her understanding, I felt the judgement coming off of her in waves.

She didn’t believe me. And she said as much. Even went as far as slightly mocking me. Said I like to walk around and follow people too much.

I felt hurt. But it’s the life we live. We face things and people do not understand. They don’t even want to understand.

Most people assume anxiety is just a “phase”. That it would pass very soon. And then we get anxious waiting for anxiety to pass. An endless vicious cycle.

Anxiety disorder is different from stress.

Stress is sometimes caused by things happening in the external environment, like work. Once you’re out of the environment, the stress lessens.

But anxiety is different. It’s there whether there is a cause or not. It’s like an extreme worry for different relevant and sometimes irrelevant things. And it occurs continuously even after the cause has been tackled.

Social Anxiety disorder is characterized by the fact that the person feeling it fears humiliation in public. The thoughts of even being in public could cause an anxiety attack.

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is not shyness. Shyness is more like a reluctance to meet new people and converse. But SAD is much worse. It’s irrational anxiety that practically causes you to break out in sweats when you meet new people.

To be honest, it’s hard to write about anxiety disorders as someone who suffers from it. The simple act of researching on it causes bouts of anxiety. And writing about it is a somewhat gruelling process.

But I just wanted to put it out there. Anxiety is not stress. You can’t just tell someone suffering from it to “get over it”. It doesn’t work like that.

Just have it in mind that someone you know could be going through anxiety and not just normal stress. Try to reach out. You might save a life.

Because anxiety disorder survivors (that’s what we are, not victims) have suicidal tendencies.

But believe me. We don’t want to die. We just want to be loved and understood.

Writer: Uwagboe Efosa Dorcas
University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria

My Life with Anxiety Disorder

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emekaoguanyia
emekaoguanyia
9 months ago

As someone who has struggled with depression and anxiety for a long time, I can fully relate to your story. Like you , I’ve had difficulty explaining it to someone who has never suffered from anxiety disorder, more often than not I feel like all I’m doing is just like pouring water on stone and eventually they try to change the subject.
Anxiety disorder just leaves you feeling miserable after every episode, it’s definitely not something I would wish my worst enemy.

Ephehx DhorCass
Ephehx DhorCass
Reply to  emekaoguanyia
9 months ago

Exactly, Emeka! It’s like the topic alone turns them off and the don’t even want to listen… And it’s a very hard topic to talk about in the first place.

Like you said, it’s not something I would wish my worse enemy too.

Bethylizzy
Bethylizzy
9 months ago

😥😥😥 sometimes I also feel uncomfortable sitting with others feeling if I say something I’ll be asked to shut up even if I have the extra vagant side of me I also have the side where I’ll just want to stay im my own shell

Ephehx DhorCass
Ephehx DhorCass
Reply to  Bethylizzy
9 months ago

Me too. And people don’t understand this. Some call you a snob when you want to just be on your own. Some say you’re just pretending to be a private person. Lots of criticism there.

And when you talk, ah! They say you’re a talkative. They just don’t understand. And although it’s hard to talk about, we need the world to be more away of this particular thing.

Thanks for your comment

Adeshola 54
Adeshola 54
9 months ago

I’m struggling with this…more reason why I try to take up roles in school that will make me active a little bit in public. Sometimes I want to be among people and I want to be just me at the same time

Ephehx DhorCass
Ephehx DhorCass
Reply to  Adeshola 54
9 months ago

You can do both, Adeshola. But please try not to overwork yourself. When this happens, you could get a panic attack.

Do things at your own pace. Take up responsibilities that make you active but do not mount too much pressure on you.

Your mental health matters a lot.

Thanks for the comment.

mimidoe
mimidoe
9 months ago

“Lol it’s funny how i thought it was normal to have this. I was always one who hated the crowd, yet I wished to be amongst the crowd. I enjoyed my company and loved staying alone. sometimes I even hated being alone. it got to a point where I thought I was depressed and needed help, so I asked my lord for help. it got better actually. some people thought I was just being foolish and no one bothered to ask why I was being that way, but the truth is the people around you are the ones who give you this anxiety, they instill this fear in you, a fear of being mocked, underestimated, downgraded and ridiculed. looking back at my life, I realized that all this had happened to me. I wanted to be like everyone else, but I wasn’t given that chance because I wasn’t the beautiful, classy, fair girl everyone wanted. I found peace in writing and escaping from negative thoughts that kept popping on my mind. I wanted someone to listen, I tried to stay away from my friends at times, because I realized some of them made me feel worthless. at home, I was always in my room, sometimes crying for a reason unfathomable to me. I always panicked whenever I was in a crowd or was the center of attention. I just want people to understand that there are people out there who are really sensitive to littlest action we make. they can tell when you don’t like them, or when you mock them and it goes deep into their souls, shattering their mindset. so please be careful what you say to people. if you have a family member that has this disorder, try to be there for them because it’s hard to explain, they only tell you they are okay, but they are not. so just support them, show them love never discriminate between your friends, kids, colleagues and everyone around you especially kids because they start to grow with a feeling of not belonging and finally the anxiety kicks in.”

_hkarage

Ephehx DhorCass
Ephehx DhorCass
Reply to  mimidoe
9 months ago

Wow. Just wow. I can even feel your pain from where I am.

True, some of this anxiety comes from the people around us. And then it becomes a part of us. Something we can’t shake off. But like you said, with the help of God, you can actually get better.

It’s funny how much impact friends and family have on our wellbeing and mental health.

Anxiety is not stress. It’s not normal. That’s not to say we are not normal. We are but the anxiety itself is a toxic thing.

Try to be among positive people. And the moment you begin to feel overwhelmed, just go to a place that calms you, even if it’s away from friends.

Together, we can make the world aware and also care about us, not just mocking and making jokes of us

mimidoe
mimidoe
Reply to  Ephehx DhorCass
9 months ago

Yes we can. I believe it mostly affects kids and as they grow it gets worse. Let’s try to keep our little siblings or children in a good and welcoming environment, it will help protect them from the negative thoughts.

Stellicose
Stellicose
9 months ago

One major thing I’ve learnt from this article is that stress is not the same as having SAD,nor is it equal to being shy. We need to run from the tendency of misjudging people and their situations.

Thank you for the enlightenment

Ephehx DhorCass
Ephehx DhorCass
Reply to  Stellicose
9 months ago

You’re welcome

stella D
stella D
9 months ago

I had lots of issues with people around me,my siblings even felt I was probably possessed or something,i just wish people would understand better.

Ephehx DhorCass
Ephehx DhorCass
Reply to  stella D
9 months ago

We can make them understand, Stella. This particular gospel isn’t preached enough. Depression awareness was preached by people. We could also make them know about anxiety too.

stella D
stella D
Reply to  Ephehx DhorCass
9 months ago

Thank you

christsp
christsp
6 months ago

I just felt like I was reading my own story.sadly, it’s hard to open up because so many people don’t even believe disorders like this exist.