anxietynouna feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.“he felt a surge of anxiety”
The definition for anxiety will always consist of words such as nervousness, unease, and fear… there is no definition out there that is able to explain without the use of negativity and yes, there isn’t anything positive about anxiety but how can you limit a definition to only a set amount of words, as if a dictionary will be able to explain the spontaneous sadness sitting on my chest at 2am causing me to gasp for air and the lingering thought that the sun hates me so much that he decides to hide behind grey clouds?
I live in a society that has offered us a set list of symptoms, the common things that indicate a problem, romanticized in all the songs and movies. They have played it out as if it were a scavenger hunt, clues to find the anxiety stricken individual in a crowd of wannabes and conformers.
Are her hands trembling? Does she break a sweat at the sight of you? Can you hear the thumping of her heart when you approach? Are her palms sweaty? Is she always tired? Are her eyes dilated?… These are the questions you are taught to ask, clear signs of anxiety forced onto us but we experience it in different forms, shapes and it breaks us differently. We are criticized because we band together but we are the people who have the open minds, we do not limit pain to an arm cast in a sling, or a band-aid wrapped around a finger… we experience pain silently and therefore we do not search for scars to pick at and hope to see blood. You see it as “misery loves company” but we believe in “there is strength in numbers”. We live with the beast but contrary to what hollywood has portrayed, beauty does not accompany him.
My anxiety is an agoraphobic, it hides in plain sight but I belong to a generation blinded by aesthetics so my red lips and winged eyeliner is an indication that everything is perfect, that my life is going as well as my makeup today. My anxiety is a parasitic bond that is unshakeable, dancing in the crevices of my mind, in spaces it does not belong in. My anxiety sits on my shoulder whispering words I am not ready to hear, a manifestation of emotions I am unable to comprehend. You ask me to explain feelings I did not choose to unravel, how am I to paint you a picture when I am not the artist, I am only the canvas. Why must I frustrate my already frustrated self only to be fed generic responses to an affliction you have only experienced through a song or a book?.
We are taught from an early age to keep our ghosts hidden in the attic and keep the monsters under the bed because all those bad things weren’t allowed out of the house. Naturally, we take the beast that is anxiety and hide him in the only place we know he’ll stay a secret… in the body we refer to as a temple. We take the thing that unsettles our souls and bury it in holy territory, then wonder why we keep feeding our inner selves yet never get full.
It’s the thing that keeps us up at night, the thing that makes our conversational skills barely existent… Anxiety is the reason why you have never spoken to your crush because the word hello feels like hell fire shooting from your chest to the tip of your tongue and even if you manage to withstand the pain of a greeting, your mind will convince you that his response meant anything but hello. You spend hours a day trying to figure out what triggers your irrational fears because there are 5 major forms of anxiety and some days you are experiencing them all at once.
You are completely baffled as to why crowds make you claustrophobic but you’re content sitting in a dark corner of your bedroom and don’t get me started on surprises, we all like nice things but can you tell me I’m about to walk into a room full of people waiting to yell happy birthday about 3 days in advance so I can schedule my hyperventilation for when all the guests have gone home. Don’t tell me “we need to talk”, that phrase makes me want to puke and faint at the same and don’t you dare move the piece of paper perfectly aligned with the corner of my desk because that will ruin my entire day and I will have no explanation for my anger over trash you only wished to throw away because you thought you were doing a nice thing, it was not nice, this is my space, my OCD would love for you to get out!
My anxiety is like living in a carnival, some days I get to win the giant bear and sip on a cherry slurpie and other days I’m force strapped on the roller coaster plummeting straight into a dark abyss of emotions I don’t know how to shake off. There are times when I don’t realize that I’m gritting my teeth until I have a horrid headache or that I’ve been staring at the floor during our conversation because I’m trying to focus on keeping my voice from breaking.
Days become a blur when you’re trying hard not to let insecurities seep through big smiles and small talk. It’s being afraid to talk about the deep stuff because it comes across as weakness or just another romanticized ploy to attract attention. It’s not divulging the secrets you were forced into hiding because anxiety is a synonym for sadness, so the moment I make a joke with a friend or post a cute selfie that is an indication that I’ve been cured. No one believes in the ups and the downs of my madness… not everyday is bad, but not everyday can be great. It’s having so much to say but the words are rushing through my veins and I have convinced myself that to get them out I need to cut through flesh so that you can understand my spirit.
Contrary to the beliefs of society…
anxiety is not one size fits all.
Sometimes talking is hard but there are times when a little conversation takes the weight off just a little… if you or a loved one needs help please reach out to someone.
SADAG: To contact a counsellor between 8am-8pm Monday to Sunday,
Call: 011 234 4837