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Living life with chronic anxiety feels like an uphill battle that you will never win. It feels so out of your control and like you will never win. Even when everything seems to be going as planned, your brain finds more to worry about and hones in on it. It is life filled with coping mechanisms, both good and poor, and pretending that life is good when in reality it feels like a water balloon with a leak that is slowly losing all of its contents. Anxiety comes in the form of needing to control people and things, setting high standards for yourself and becoming your worst critic, being scared to go out with people, being scared to go anywhere for that matter, having even the best things ruined by the little voice in your head, and constantly worrying.
Anxiety is the crippling fear that you are not good enough and that everyone around you will soon tire of you and your antics and leave. It seems to correlate with lack of self-worth, poor personal image, and codependency and fosters an ill environment to grow and thrive in. It is a black hole of emotions that is dangerous for your long-term health and mentality. It seems that the number of people suffering from anxiety grows and grows as more stressors are put on our lives such as changes in income, housing, relationships, and education. Nothing seems to stay consistent anymore and as someone with anxiety, consistency is all we crave.
We crave organization, control, relief from our thoughts, support, and love and want more than anything to just feel better.
"Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the US, affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1 percent of the population every year."
—The Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Many people suffer from anxiety and don’t even know that is what it is. It feels like a constant worry and like you always have to think about the next 500 things going on in your life. It is caring about the sake of others before caring about yourself, but then realizing that you have not spent enough time for yourself and you panic even more. Living with anxiety is like living with a small little monster on your shoulder that berates you at every turn. Makes you second guess all that you do, and reminds you about all the things that are to come even if they are years from now. The worst thing is that there is not just one kind of anxiety and you can suffer from more than just one kind at a time.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America also reports that there is generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder, and many other forms of anxiety and/or depression related illnesses. The hardest part of living with anxiety is the stigma. Some people assume anxiety is self-diagnosed for any kind of worrying or is just a label to give someone a reason to be different, but studies show that anxiety is real and it is hard. There is a huge difference between stressing out over finals as many would versus stressing out over every small detail in life and worrying about made up situations.
However, the light at the end of this piece is that you can get help. Find people in your life who want to support you and want you to succeed and hold onto them because they are valuable people who will help you through your darkest days. You are not alone in this and you are not weak for seeking help. The strongest people know when they reach their breaking point and can no longer go on by themselves—they reach to the people they know and love and they get the support that they need to make it through the storm. It gets better, I promise you.