Do I Have Anxiety?
Anxiety attacks at any time, often messy, and physically and mentally overpowering. Yet, most often, people living with anxiety are at a loss for words in describing how it feels.
Approximately 1 in 6 people struggle with different degrees of anxiety, from single events to chronic anxiety. Living with anxiety can impact your personal relationships, education, career, and daily activities.
Understanding life with anxiety, such as identifying triggers and developing coping strategies, is critical to successfully managing this common condition.
- Anxiety feels like someone with a knife is stabbing you in the chest every time you take a breath
- Anxiety feels like your thoughts overpower you with negativity that a heavy cloud takes over your body leaving you debilitated or incapacitated.
- Anxiety can result in an out-of-body experience where your mind is no longer in your body and your body is acting independently of your mind as you see yourself from an external perspective.
- Anxiety can take over your whole brain that you feel light-headed and non-existent in time and space and you can't do anything but curl up in a ball and hide.
Anxiety can be triggered by anything, sometimes just by the thought of a stress-inducing event. By definition, anxiety is our body's natural response to stress; it is a feeling of fear or apprehension for what is about to come such as a job interview, facing a tough situation, or relationship problems. While anxiety can stress-induced, chronic anxiety can go beyond a single, individual event.
Common Symptoms of Anxiety :
- Feeling nervous, restless, or tense;
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic, or doom;
- Having an increased heart rate;
- Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation);
- Sharp Chest Pains;
- Shortness of Breath;
- Feeling weak or tired;
- Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry;
- Having trouble sleeping;
- Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems;
- Having difficulty controlling worry;
- Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety
Anxiety can make everyday tasks more challenging due to the fear and stress of anxiety. While the examples below will describe some of the experiences of anxiety, every individuals' experience can differ. Some other examples of how anxiety affects your life include:
- Difficulty getting out of bed to attend school or work;
- Excessive fear of meeting new people;
- Trouble running routine errands;
- Inability to participate in a child’s school functions;
- Difficulty falling asleep;
- Struggling to focus on work tasks;
- Failure to make important decisions;
- Excessive fear of attending group gatherings;
- Trouble maintaining relationships;
- Inability to drive or fly on a plane
In conversation with people experiencing anxiety, you will often find one form of verbalization of such feelings:
Anxiety feels like someone with a knife is stabbing you in the chest every time you take a breath
Anxiety can be expressed through intense physical symptoms as a result of difficulty breathing; the brain sends nerve signals which run tension through the body and impact different muscles causing the feeling of tightness in areas of the body. It feels as though every breath is accompanied by a sharp pain being pressured against a part of your body.
When you hold your breath under water and struggle to reach the surface. Burning lungs and desperation. #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike
— Ryan Darani (@SearchForRyan) March 19, 2017
Sometimes the pain is so excruciating, you try to moderate your breathing, which in turn causes you to feel shortness of breath despite excessive breathing.
#ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike when your chair tips back and you almost fall but catch yourself- that sensation- for no reason and for hours
— Fenton! Jesus Christ (@LaLaLaRuex) February 11, 2017
Often the degree of muscle tightening is directly correlated to the level of anxiety you are feeling at a given moment. Sometimes these feelings can last a few minutes, and other times, a few hours.
Anxiety feels like your thoughts overpower you with negativity that a heavy cloud takes over your body leaving you debilitated or incapacitated.
Sometimes anxiety can convince you of failure well before you even get started. The train of negative thought begins to overpower you, creating a cloud of negative doubt with every single subsequent thought, one after another. Some people describe this 'as being trapped in their own mind'.
My brain is always buzzing too fast and won't be quiet. Ever. It just keeps going like an engine in my head#thisiswhatanxietyfeelslike
— veronica (@vron_h) April 5, 2017
The crippling and debilitating experience usually occurs unexpectedly and stems from a future or past stressful experience as the anchor of the present condition.
— Kelsey (@helloitskr) March 20, 2017
While the answer may be obvious -think positively, breaking the cycle is sometimes extremely difficult, it requires a large, thought-altering shock.
Sometimes, journaling works to reduce the impact. If we consider the mind as a glass when the glass is filled up, we must empty the container to allow new space for other liquids to be poured in; journaling on paper helps empty the glass. In contrast, speaking out loud, although sometimes helpful, can also cause you to spiral even deeper into negative thoughts.
Anxiety can result in an out-of-body experience where your mind is no longer in your body and your body is acting independently of your mind as you see yourself from an external perspective.
What it feels like is a weird, inverse lucid dream, where you feel like your awake when you are actually sleeping. Anxiety can often cause us to feel like we are going physically through the motions but not actually being mentally present.
My brain is a TV and someone else had the remote #thisiswhatanxietyfeelslike
— Robin Tillera (@celebs_rnt_news) April 5, 2017
It can manifest itself to make you feel like a stranger to yourself. To feel mentally disconnected from your physical being and actions. As though someone else, not you, is using your physical body without your permission and you do not know how to stop it.
Bored to death but not having the energy to do a damn thing!!#ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike
— Twïstëd Up Inside (@twistedup_Nside) April 2, 2017
While being very difficult, forcing your physical body to do things that you are mentally present in is extremely important. Selective activity to realign your mind and body will help you regain the feeling of control of your actions and ultimately your mind.
Anxiety can take over your whole brain that you feel light-headed and non-existent in time and space and you can't do anything but curl up in a ball and hide.
A friend once told me, every time he has to deal with big problems (not emergencies), he takes a nap, so he does not have to deal with it for another 15 minutes. But more importantly, it allows him to take on the problem with a fresh mind
Anxiety can feel like your sailing into the middle of the ocean laden with ocean fog. The clouded brain ultimately causes your mind to want to completely shut down, leaving you with a thought explosion with thoughts broken into a thousand non-coherent pieces.
Anxiety is feeling like you forgot to do something important. All. The. Time. #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike
— Cassidy Shannon (@porterchic0939) April 5, 2017
To some “thoughts can feel so out of reach that I avoid social interactions entirely, to spare others from having to interact with the emptiness of my anxiety brain." This can cause you to become severely frustrated with yourself, but that disappointment can lead to an even deeper crippling of the mind.
— Anxyz (@Anxyz_ai) September 5, 2019
Carrying out simple activities that require no thought can help give you the necessary space, time, and patience to recollect yourself and get a fresher take. Often speaking to a trusted person can also help bring perspective.