Anxiety does not have a singular form.

Growing up, my brother and mom both suffered from intense depression and anxiety. I saw how it kept them from doing things they wanted to do. I notice my brother become more and more anxious about every little thing. At times he even turned on his medicine. I was always told I had to be sympathetic and understanding, and I always did. But as I grew up, I started noticing how moments of personal anxiety. The anxiety I feel within myself was chopped up to me being “dramatic,” “type A,” “uptight,” “wound-up”. My anxiety looked different. My anxiety was not the anxiety that was normative in my family. See, I would power through most of my anxiety despite not being able to breathe at times. Some days I would get so anxious the world started to blackout, and I would lose my hearing. But I never said anything because I was the “rock” in my family. However, this is not the point of the rant, and I do plan to dive deeper into this idea telling a child that she is the reason your family is holding together. That deserves its own moment. Right now, I want to focus on a feeling that I have been trying to understand and uncover for quite some time now. A feeling that while taking an hour-long shower today, I was able to summarize in one sentence. “My anxiety is still valid even if it doesn’t look like yours.” I express my anxiety through constantly asking “Is this okay,” “are you mad,” “do you like this,” “do I look good in this,” “Am I pretty,” “Does this sound smart,” “Is this a smart idea”. The list can go on forever. Every action I take, I question, and I torment those around me with these never-ending inquires. I will ask the same question 20 times before I realize I need to “stop being dramatic”. I worry people lie to me about what they like that I have done and will ask a thousand times. This is not me “fishing for compliments” as I have been told in the past by loved ones. No. I do not want “compliments” I just truly do not believe you and worry you are lying to me. I get stressed about wanting things a certain way, not because I am “type A”. No. It is because in my head, if things do not go as the plan I have created states, then the world around me will unravel. A thought I know is invalid and “dramatic,” yet it is extremely real and vivid. I get so stress and anxious that everything is falling apart, and I cannot help but cry. I do not think I will ever forget moving into my first ever apartment. My parents were helping me out and moving my stuff into my room. All summer, I had planned on where I would put my desk. However, when we got here and unloaded the moving van, I noticed the desk was too big for my “perfect” spot. In my head, my anxiety, having already been high about moving into a new place, with new people, saw this as a sign that this entire thing was a mistake. That I made a mistake. This would lead to me not getting into nursing school, not being happy, and more. It was a spiral of thoughts I started to cry. My parents, with no ill intent, started to mock me. They said I needed to calm down and that I was being “dramatic”, “it is just a desk”. Later at dinner with my new roommates and their family, my parents told them of my meltdown. Granted, everyone else was talking about how difficult the move was. But it hurt. It hurt because had my anxiety showed the way my parents were used to, the way my brothers did. They would have understood. They would have recognized that this was not “normal”, it was not a “dramatic meltdown”. They would have understood. Instead, I looked like a child throwing a tantrum because her desk didn’t fit in the exact spot she wanted. Once again, my parents did not mean this in a bad way. They just hadn’t recognized it as anxiety. Which brings my back to my main point before the rambling began. Anxiety does not have a singular form. It is not something that once you have seen it, you can always recognize it. My brother shows anxiety by shutting down, overthinking, overcontrolling. I show anxiety by asking a million repetitive questions, crying over inappropriate inconveniences, having to finish a project in one day, obsessing over every detail. In clinicals, I have seen anxiety manifested in ways that I would never have imagined. All of this boiled down is me just trying to say, do not ever invalidate someone’s emotions. The person may seem to be dramatic, extra, annoying, loner, or whatever the case may be to you, but this just might be their way of coping with emotions they do not know how to handle. Emotions that to them scare them and consume them. Your experience with anxiety is not the only experience possible.

Published by Kathrine

Emergency Room Nurse spends too much time thinking, reflecting, and over-analyzing every detail of life. Hoping to one day figure it all out.

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