99.999% of the population encounters a certain amount of anxiety on a daily basis. Whether it’s fleeting worry about an upcoming exam, or debilitating health fears, everyone experiences varied levels of anxiety. To the mythical 0.0001% who have escaped anxiety’s clutches unscathed, I envy you! And no need to read further; you are good to go!
Now, to the rest of you fellow anxiety-havers, I’d like to talk about the recent de-stigmatization of anxiety discourse. I say “anxiety discourse” and not “mental health discourse” because LOTS of mental health disorders, such schizophrenia and BPD, are still super stigmatized. But that’s besides the point. You may have noticed a recent surge in anxiety-related graphics, Tik Toks, and general Internet content. These valuable tools (often see on @justgirlproject’s instagram) provide insight on how to cope with the daily impediments of anxiety. However, with that MAJOR benefit, comes a few unfortunate side effects that need to be addressed.
I’m so thrilled that anxiety discourse has been normalized, and I think the internet is generally headed in the right direction toward mental health discussions. However, it is critical that people with unhealthy levels of anxiety seek professional help in addition to valuable guidance from the internet. Now, this is a hard step to take for a lot of people. It’s easy to question yourself:
“Everyone has anxiety, so I should deal with it myself, too.”
“I’m strong, I don’t need help.”
“They don’t need help, so why should I?”
I’ve heard my friends who suffer with debilitating anxiety repeat these phrases to themselves, over and over again, as their mind utterly paralyzes them! The difference between a healthy level of anxiety, and an unhealthy level of anxiety, is NOT dependent on the experience of people around you. That’s why anxiety disorders are so difficult to spot and treat: sufferers can blend into the world; their anxiety-driven quirks appear like casual markers of stress. However, to the person with anxiety, these thought patterns weigh down their day, and make it difficult to function. Listed below is a (non-comprehensive) list of signs your anxiety may be reaching high levels:
1. Your anxiety prevents you from completing simple tasks.
2. You spend more time thinking than doing.
3. You constantly need to be moving a part of your body.
4. You never feel settled or relaxed.
5. You have trouble sleeping at night because your mind races.
Everyone is allowed to have anxiety. Everyone is allowed to feel stressed and anxious, to bite their nails, and obsess about the future. If you personally feel overwhelmed by this anxiety, then there is a way out. Suffering in silence isn’t a noble endeavor; getting yourself the help you need is brave. We are taught from a young age that independence is a golden virtue. And it’s great to be able to take care of yourself! But there are people in this world specifically trained to help you when times get tough. There is no harm in reaching out for assistance.
Once you do seek help, recognize that your mental health journey lies in your hands. Nobody is going to force you to take medication or see a therapist every week. You can take the reins on your life, and decide which options feel best suited to you.
If you feel your anxiety hinders your life, productivity, or happiness in any way, there is no harm in reaching out to a professional psychologist. With the shift to virtual medicine, you can choose from a vast network of global professionals to best suit your needs. You are worthy of clear thoughts, and a fresh outlook on life. Anxiety will never own you!
Written by: Brianna Rauchman