What is it like to live with anxiety? It is a constant fear – a constant feeling of apprehension. For some, it is a variable emotion but for people like me, anxiety is a constant state in life. No matter where I go or what I do, my anxiety follows me. It is my biggest ‘frenemy’. The fear of losing control has terrorised me but it also has given me the strength to overcome these terrors.
My anxiety doesn’t take a day off, there are days when it is euphoric, and is manipulating every thought I have. On other days, it only slides into a few thoughts. My anxiety is a prison, my mind its most fragile inmate. But I couldn’t live with this constant fear. So, how did I escape the prison of my anxiety?
I began with accepting my condition. Generalized anxiety is very common in India, there are millions of cases per year and it is most common in ages between 14 to 19. So, I wasn’t as unique as I thought I was. It was comforting to know that I was not the only one and that there were others like me.
Second, accepting you have a problem is not enough. I knew what I had and I needed to resolve my problem. So, I decided to confess. The biggest problem regarding mental health is the stigma that surrounds it. The general stigma around mental health hyperventilates the condition and focuses on what others may think instead of focusing on the victim. Hence, I expressed my struggle with anxiety and how it was affecting my ability to deal with daily life. Some understood and some thought I was exaggerating things. But at least now, I wasn’t carrying a heavy secret. I felt lighter.
Third, now that I wasn’t hiding a secret like Superman, it was time to get help. Anxiety doesn’t resolve itself, nor does it fly away with time. The longer you deny it, the more intense it gets. So, I decided to get professional help. It was difficult to open up and share my fears with a stranger. Confronting my fears made me vulnerable but at least I was taking control of my emotions. I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by people who understood and accepted my troubles. I was also fortunate enough to receive the help I needed but I realise most people aren’t. That brings me to my final step.
Fourth, recovery never takes off. Every day, I have to make decisions that are good for me, I have to take care of myself before anyone else does. I can’t depend on a stranger to help me every time I feel anxious; instead, I have to do it myself. So, I started with basic breathing exercises followed by meditation and later I discovered writing.
Writing was my breakthrough. Each time I wrote how I felt, it was cathartic; it was an experience of bonding with myself. After I had built a relationship with myself, I decided to shift my focus to others.
I started writing online. My favourite app was throb because I could directly voice my opinion objectively and find people like me. It was more than just writing, it was building a community, a community of people who understood. All of us had similar problems and decided to voice our opinion to be heard. I also maintained a personal diary, which I could sink in and vent my heart out without bothering about who was reading it.
Anxiety was consuming me; it would hold me back from different opportunities and would make me question every choice I made. My anxiety is still my prison but at least now, I have the key to break out of my prison. If you understand how I feel, please express yourself. Liberate your mind and your anxiety will bow down to you commands. Take control!