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What does anxiety feel like? Sweaty palms, a loud heartbeat, and the swirl of nausea in the pit of your stomach? A pounding head, shaky hands, and an even shakier voice? It comes differently for everyone.
Last week, I had a bad day. It was no big deal, I just got triggered by something out of my control and was anxious. I had to reach out for help. It's hard reaching out for help sometimes, because you don't know who is available. When it comes to my support team, I'll take anyone I can get. But naturally, I gravitate more to the people who maybe understand what I'm going through. When you're having anxiety, it's hard to connect with someone who doesn't experience anxiety. I was trying to explain what anxiety feels like and what I was going through, and this is what I came up with:
Imagine you're in a room, and then you begin to hear knocking. It's no big deal at first, just a bit annoying. As time goes on, the knocking gets louder, and it's just not stopping. You want the knocking to end, so you try to find out where it's coming from. Think about how frustrated you would feel if you couldn't find the knocking, and you weren't able to stop hearing it all the time.
Finally, you open the door and let it in...
You want to face the knocking, so you open the door and try to let it in. Maybe it comes inside and sits down, quiet for a second, but then it starts knocking again. It's just become louder, because you've let it into your space and it's looking you right in the eye. Now you're terrified, intimidated, and having an even harder time dealing with the knocking than before.
So what do you do? Different people will deal with the knocking in different ways. Some people are able to drown it out immediately, and it never becomes a problem. Other people will confront it and find a solution, and the knocking will go away. Maybe you could try phoning a friend and asking them to come help you.
Even if your friend can't find a solution to the problem, they can sit with you and give you support as you try to deal with the knocking. And sometimes it's just so bad that you have no other options other than to sit and wait for the knocking to stop.
In the most tragic situations, some people go to extreme lengths to stop the knocking... stopping the sound of everything forever.
For me, this is what my anxiety feels like. The anxious and sad feelings resemble the knocking, something that I just can't stop noticing. When I'm having good days, I may not hear knocking at all. But the more I'm upset, the louder and louder the knocking becomes. Sometimes it's easy to deal with, and sometimes it's hard to handle. But I still carry on, and the next day can be much better than the first. Darkness is always followed by dawn.
If this resonates with you, you're not alone. I find it easier to heal and deal with things when I understand them, and I hope that this idea can help you to better understand what anxiety feels like. Don't be afraid to reach out to others when you feel down. If you have the words, try to explain to them what your anxiety feels like. Remember, they don't have to completely understand. Support is more important than understanding, but it does feel nice when someone can relate to you and say "yes, I totally get what you're saying." Don't let yourself get to the point where you feel desperate to stop the knocking, let other people keep you company and give you support.