Nights are the toughest. Laying on a hard mattress in the hot summer is not easy when you have countless questions looming in your mind. The fatigue from sleep deprivation and the tension from popping pills gets the better of you even if you’re only 25 and supposedly in the prime of your life.
I’m an anxious person. Oxford dictionary defines anxiety as a ‘strong desire or concern to do something or for something to happen’. Although I would love to have this kind of ‘cool’ anxiety, that’s not what I’m referring to. I’m talking about the feeling that starts in the pit of your stomach and reaches your throat in a fit that you can neither ignore nor decipher. By the time it reaches your brain, your body has already started preparing you for a danger that isn’t even there, and your heart has started pumping oxygen to all corners of your body even when there is no need to do so. You can’t catch the ghost which is haunting you, and while you figure out the name of that ghost, your body is trying to become a shadow of itself. Feeling anxious yet?
Anxiety or in clinical terms Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a mental health condition identified as an actual disease (yeah, it’s not made up) in many countries, including the United States. It has physiological symptoms which make the daily life of people who suffer this condition a little more painful and awkward than usual. Still, Indian society continues to consider anxiety a taboo alongside hot topics like beef eating, gay marriage, and speaking against your nation’s undesirable qualities.
In a famous and memorable conversation -well it’s famous for me- I had with my mother, we discussed how people in India are not taken seriously for their mental health problems until they are clinically proven to be ‘mad’ or in simple terms until someone loses his sh*t. If we, as responsible adults, treat anxiety like any other disease and take medicines and preventive measures for it, maybe we can avoid reaching that gruesome stage.
My life with anxiety is a double-edged sword. Neither I can rest, nor can I do anything without a lot of effort. From the time I was quite young, I enjoyed basking in my laziness every now and then. Now, anxiety won’t allow me to sit still, and the meds won’t let me do anything but. It’s like there is a war brewing inside me every second. And no matter who wins, I lose.
That’s how I feel every day and every night. That’s what anxiety is for me. For anxious people, medication tends to make us a little less awkward and nervous around people. Just enough to fit into a supposedly normal society and not make fools out of ourselves due to our clumsiness. It’s not pleasant, nor is it sad. It is what it is.
I mean, I have my moments. I can solve an integration problem -however difficult- in my mind under 30 seconds. I can recite the names of all major and minor Gods of every prominent world religion. Not that it helps me socially or in conversations with girls. Nobody wants to discuss how the sun is not really yellow or how there is no such thing as a black cloud or why electricity is a wonder of nature. It might be cool but not good conversation material. What? What do you mean it’s nerdy?
Believe me, SSRIs (the medication used for treating anxiety) don’t slow you down. However, I believe that too much happiness eventually bores you. At least it does in my case. I have always been a firm believer in pessimism. Just like seeing only the shady side of a scenario is dumb, so is looking at the bright side every time. It’s not natural. The world is not perfect, and as such you need to observe and appreciate the imperfections as much as the perfections if you don’t want to be taken down by the cold hard truths of life. If I relate to the negative side more, that’s just how God made me. My meds, however, don’t allow me to to do that. That’s just torture.
On the plus side, I love when my doctor says I need medicines to slow my brain down. I feel like a superhuman who has an ultra-fast mind. However, I don’t want to be one. I just want to fit in, as do many people like me. We want to relate to you, go out, and tell scary stories by the campfire. We want to be taken seriously in our friend circles and be not seen as the shy people sitting in the corner. That is not possible until people around us realise that part of what we have to offer may come from a disease, but that doesn’t define us.
Reach us at our home because we won’t get out of our beds. Anxiety is widely believed to be an introvert disease. Though it could happen to an extrovert personality also, the likelihood of an introvert having anxiety is quite high simply because we are built that way. Overthinking, overindulging in fictional scenarios that literally won’t happen, and worrying about problems that haven’t even surfaced yet are the favourite past time of us introverts.
For me personally, the only semblance of peace is talking to my loved ones and writing. I don’t write because I’m good at it or anything -far from it- but because I have no other choice. I don’t like talking about my life problems with people who just want to listen to them out of some misplaced notion of curiosity. Instead, I discuss them with the only faithful companion I have had till date: my empty sheet of paper. Through our art, we anxious people can get our constant worries out of us and in return, get something productive done.
This is how us anxious people feel day in and day out. So if you think your life is hard, imagine walking in our trembling shoes and sweaty clothes. Ciao.