Most people don’t realize that anxiety is a natural and protective instinct that everyone experiences. But there is definitely a big difference between experiencing normal anxiety and having an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is considered normal when you have it in small amounts. Anxiety is a future oriented mood state that prepares humans to take action. Anxiety becomes clinical when you experience it in excessive amounts. When your anxiety starts to interfere with they way that you live your life and the activities that you enjoy it starts to become a problem. It is important to understand that the official definition of anxiety is a mood state characterized by marked negative effects and somatic symptoms of tensions in which a person apprehensively anticipates future danger or misfortune. In other words, people with anxiety are stressed about EVERYTHING. ALL OF THE TIME. Even minor things like going to the supermarket or going to exercise can cause significant anxiety if someone has a anxiety disorder.
I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder when I was in early elementary school. Though I don’t have social anxiety it was hard for me to get up the nerve to speak up and talk to kids my own age. Don’t get me wrong I still had besties that I remain friends with to this day. But things were difficult; my anxiety stopped me from taking advantage of so many cool opportunities. When I would learn that I was going to be in a environment that made me uncomfortable, I would start to panic. All I could think about is everything that could go wrong and how I think people will dislike me.
I am now in my senior year of high school and am here to tell you that my anxiety hasn’t gone away but I have learned how to handle it. Taking deep breaths, staying positive, and having a good support team are just some of the strategies that I use on a daily basis. A major thing I have to do on a daily basis is just walking away from a task for a few minutes to relax. When I go back to the task, I come in with a open mind and am ready to work without being overwhelmed. My psychologist has been more of a life coach to me. I discuss current conflicts or upcoming assignments or events that I know will be challenging. She has helped me by teaching me this strategy and by believing in me.
I would have never been able to spend two summers in Spain at a young age not knowing anyone, or changed schools my sophomore year, if I had let my anxiety get the best of me. Here is my advice to the many people out there who like me struggle with anxiety. 40 million Americans over the age of 18 have an anxiety disorder, which is about 18% of Americans- (just in case you were wondering.) Don’t be afraid of everything. Try new things. Accept that situations will be harder for you than for others. I am not afraid to flaunt and talk about my anxiety disorder because I have made a lot of progress in being able to handle my daily struggles. I’m not worried about what could go wrong when I post this flaunt. If I can do it, so can you.