I have to be honest: On a personal level, I’m really lucky. My struggles over the past few years have more been with depression than anxiety. Honestly? I’d prefer it that way. When my anxiety was at its worst – when it was worse than the depression, worse than any physical pain I’d ever really experienced – I struggled. Panic attacks could come anytime, any place, for no reason, and they felt like a snowball rolling downhill – once they started, they simply could not be stopped. That was absolutely terrifying and a pain I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
Fortunately, I cannot remember the last time I had a real anxiety attack, and I am beyond grateful for that. My anxiety has morphed into something more generalized; a constant, gnawing worry that searches for something to be worried about. I have a really difficult time relaxing. That sort of thing. To be clear, I’d take this over anxiety attacks in a millisecond, but it doesn’t mean I’m without the scars from those battles.
That’s something I think about frequently: What ways are my own mental health affecting my life, even if I don’t still actively suffer from certain components of it? Here are some answers to this important question: How does anxiety affect your life in ways you don’t even realize?
You become less adventurous: Anxiety makes you afraid. And fear makes you less willing to try new things or explore different facets of life. One of the many, many reasons anxiety sucks so much is because that fear places your life into a little box that seems to squeeze in. You only go to familiar places. Talk to familiar people. Engage in familiar activities. Why? Because doing something new is scary. And that may lead to an anxiety attack. Unfortunately, I’ve found that those scars remain.
Worry becomes the default state: In those moments where you have nothing to worry about, you find something anyway. You find something to take all your nebulous fear and latch it there, because it makes you feel better. Yes, you read that right. A personal equilibrium becomes a fearful state.
The moments of peace are few and far between: This is related to the above, but honest to God, I don’t remember the last time I felt really, truly at peace and relaxed. There is ALWAYS something to stress about, to be worried about. It’s always there, like a predator and a prey. Is that just being an adult? I’m not sure. Which leads me to…..
You don’t know what is normal: This is one of the strangest questions, and it’s more a philosophical one, I’d argue: What is normal? How much anxiety/depression/fear is “okay” – how much is “acceptable” – and how much isn’t? It’s a strange, esoteric question, but a vitally important one, because how you answer it will greatly alter the level of treatment you get. I don’t know what normal is, because I don’t think I’ve been there in decades. If ever.
Anything to add? As always, I’d love your thoughts. How else has anxiety hurt you in ways you haven’t thought about? Let us know in the comments below.