I’m not going to go into the medical side of anxiety. I’m here to talk more to the emotional experience that comes with this disorder.
I like to talk from my own experience and while everyone’s experience is different, I think we can all agree it can be equally debilitating.
It didn’t hit me how bad my anxiety was until around 2016, when I woke up one morning with a sense of dread, my chest feeling heavy and this intense fear of going into work.
I remember lying in bed crying about the fact that I had to get up. My husband was so worried. Was I sick? What was wrong with me?
It felt like my whole body was screaming at me, “I don’t want to move!” I wasn’t in any physical pain, but the sense of lethargy was overwhelming. I had had a terrible sleep the night before, the type where all you do is think all night long and you spend the whole evening only half asleep.
For me, those sleeps end up in strong headaches that can eventually become migraines.
So I woke up that morning and after an internal battle over getting up and going to work, I called in sick. I spent two entire days lying in bed, crying about the fact that I couldn’t understand why I felt this way and feeling guilty for missing work.
I just kept thinking, if I told work the reason I couldn’t go in, no one would ever understand, I had no big deadlines, no negative feedback, I just didn’t want to go – but that’s a conversation for another day.
It was after this that my husband suggested I get professional help. I refused for quite some time but when I considered the toll it was taking on him and how I wished the anxiety and depression would just stop, I figured it was time to get help. Of course anxiety can come on in different waves. For some people it’s a lot worse and for others it’s not so bad.
A normal level of anxiety for me involves constant worrying over things I can’t control, a tightness in my chest, shallow breathing and sweaty palms. It normally takes me at least an hour to fall asleep and if I’m extremely anxious, sleep never arrives. (Cont in comments)