Inside the head

Confessions of a 17 year-old with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

"I suffer with chronic anxiety and I am always asked what anxiety is. Sometimes this question is better answered by describing what anxiety is not. Anxiety is not being scared to give a speech in front of hundreds of people. Anxiety is not being frightened of walking down a pitch-black alleyway at the middle of night. Anxiety is not staying up the night before exams in anticipation of your performance. Anxiety, as a human source of suffering, is much more than that. This is something parents overlook, so let me talk you through it. Anxiety is best expressed as being ‘fearful of fear’. You may be kept awake at nights worrying about whether you’ll become an insomniac. You may refrain from going out in public due to fear of fainting or having to interact with the public. You may even stop eating food in fear of choking. These anxiety cycles are different from what ordinary people perceive as anxiety because they are based on complete irrationality, but the mind perceives them as reality. Living with anxiety is more than rough, but this mental element is sometimes the best of it. What’s worse is when the physical manifestations of the disorder come through. Difficulties breathing. Failure to swallow. Throat muscles locking up. High blood pressure. Heart palpitations. Numbness in the hands and legs. Migraines. Visual hallucinations. The pain is incessant. No-one but you can feel it. You feel alone in the world. Countless hospital visits don’t reassure you because the next day something else will pop its head into your 'high-alert anxiety programme'. I do believe there is a way out. These things are always temporary. But what must be understood is that anxiety is more than butterflies in your stomach. It’s more than feeling unsafe at night. And it’s much more than what you think."