What is anxiety? If you’d asked me a few years ago you’d have been greeted with a half-hearted shrug and a smile, and a few vague words on one of my friends that might have anxiety – which she did. Ask me now and I can give you both the scientific and my personal recount of what it is, to me and to the world.
Anxiety consists of different disorders: Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Social Anxiety, Phobias, Panic Disorders: the list goes on. So what is it that has changed over the past years? For me, the answer is easy. I realised something wasn’t right, and after much deliberation and careful planning, I confided in a teacher I was comfortable with. It took a year, but he convinced me to bring it up with the in-school counsellor, and I did a 6-month course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. She told me I had GAD and social anxiety, and helped me through the course. I was lucky to be supported by her and the teacher I had told all the way through.
People sometimes ask me what therapy really is. It’s not as scary as it sounds, though it was possibly the hardest thing I have ever done. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) consists of a sheet of paper divided into columns: Thought; Setting; Anxiety rating out of 10; and alternative thought. After some time, this trains you to restructure your thinking to jump automatically to the arguably logical alternative thought instead of the often illogical anxious thought.
It sounds easy in theory. But as I said, possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s not easy to sit there and see your most intimate thoughts written on paper, and unravel them with someone who’s a stranger. I can’t sugarcoat it – it really isn’t easy. That being said, it’s one of the most beneficial things I’ve ever done, too. From not knowing I had anxiety to being able to manage it has improved my life by allowing me to talk to people more comfortably, enjoy parties and my friends more, realising my passion and finding the strength to pursue it.
So if you think you have anxiety; I plead to you to get it checked in any way you can. Even if you don’t think you do – I didn’t – don’t ever pass up an opportunity to learn about it. It doesn’t have to be a life sentence. The stigma needs to be overcome, and that’s what I’m working towards. Educate and share, speak up if you can. Don’t be afraid. Beat your illness, beat the stigma, reclaim your life as your own. Support your friends in their journeys. Don’t let anything get in your way, because if I can overcome this, I know that you can too. I am more than my anxiety.
From: Anonymous A
* This is a series of personal experiences of anxiety disorders collected from the audiences of MY Psychology. The author of this journey has given MY Psychology to publish his / her experience on social media to increase the awareness about anxiety disorder.