I suppose I was always a bit of a worrier growing up. I was always nervous about going back to school after the holidays or how I was going to perform in the end-of-term exams. But as uneasy as those events often made me, any worry I felt about them was gone once they passed. I settled back into the daily school routine and I finished my exams and I could breathe easy again as if nothing had happened in the first place.
Anxiety however, is much more than that. According to Medical News Today, "Anxiety disorders form a category of mental health diagnoses that lead to excessive nervousness, fear, apprehension and worry." Applying this definition to my daily life, it is easy for me to see just how pervading anxiety has become. Exams are no longer merely a source of panic building up to the day. Worry and unease torture me to the point of perspiration as the supervisor hands me my paper, I open it up and I lose my sense of self-belief that I can get a good score. Even afterwards, anxiety continues to rear its ugly, monstrous head. I think to myself, "Did I write enough for that answer?" Did I calculate those figures correctly?" "Will the examiner be able to read my writing?" As unhelpful as I know deep down this process of post-mortem analysis to be, there is just something in my very core that is preventing that rational response and is fostering the most irrational one instead.
Academics aside, I would say that anxiety has also affected my working life as well. It causes me to believe that I am doing a bad job, even if my supervisors have assured me otherwise. Every little mistake gets built up to Olympian levels in my mind. Every time I see a hanger turned the wrong way around; anxiety. Every time I see a customer complaining to my superior; anxiety. It also results in me asking "silly" questions that I ought to know the answer to; in fact, I have probably already heard this answer multiple times before I ask again. But anxiety has implanted in my brain that I must ask these questions. I just have to be sure; I need that reassurance that I'm doing the right thing. Of course, this mentality usually leads to my supervisor questioning why I'm taking so long to learn a new task; I learned it, I know it I just don't believe I can do it.
Finally, I must briefly acknowledge how anxiety has affected my social life. I recently turned 24 and (as they often do) societal norms would have me believe that I must attend nightclubs and festivals to be happy. But this is far from the case. I have come to associate these stimuli with fear, panic attacks and just a general feeling of not wanting to be there. Locations like gyms, cafes, bars and even my once beloved library have become emotional prisons; places where I want to be comfortable, but I can't. For if I try to, there will be a nagging voice in my head telling me how to react. Comfort will become panic, happiness will become sadness, and determination will become fear.
And at the back of it all, anxiety remains.
A Moodscope member.