Anxiety – what does it feel like?

Have you ever woken up to find your pet lying asleep on your chest? They’re heavy and uncomfortable. A dead weight reducing your breathing. To wake them and relieve yourself of the discomfort seems rude. So you let them be happy and you deal with the consequences. Anxiety is carrying that weight around all day everyday. Sometimes we wonder if the saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved,’ rings true. Most of the time though we bottle it up. We hold on to the weight to protect others, to keep them unburdened. Even though the prospect of our problems being ‘halved’ sounds amazing we don’t want spoil the happiness of others.

Living with anxiety can feel like there are two people battling in my head. There’s logic and there’s fear. Logic tells me people I’ve never met aren’t all talking about me. Fear, mangles their words, allowing me to pick up snippets of their conversation. It then creates a story with them in which I play the villain. No matter how hard logic fights back fear always wins.

Anxiety is always hiding in the back, but still wanting to be seen. Being short, it wasn’t an option to go to the back in group photographs, as much as I wanted to. Anytime I was lucky enough to get that opportunity I would obscure myself from view, but leaving just a small hint that I was there. A bodyless arm, a hat with no head seemingly floating in mid air. Just enough of me so I could prove I was there, but also enough that no one else would notice me.

Anxiety is taking out one earphone, for fear your breathing is too loud. It’s holding your breath up a hill so it doesn’t look like you’ve struggled. It’s writing a script for a phone call and panicking when things don’t go as planned. Anxiety influences every single thing that I do.

It feels like a sore, red, bloody thumb because you picked at it too much without noticing. It tastes like the wrong food at the restaurant, because you were too scared to complain. It smells like constantly fresh perfume and deodorant, because you’ve reapplied it ten times, scared incase you smell. It’s walking on tiptoes when shoes squeak. It’s spending your life on tiptoes, being cautious and being afraid.

Anxiety is at least one in ten people you encounter everyday, even if you don’t notice it, it is there.

*Based on my own experiences with anxiety*

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