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Battling Anxiety (Brigid Hannon)

By: Brigid HannonI am nervous to write this article.
Maybe someone will read it that I’m trying to get a job from and they’ll think I’m crazy and can’t live up to my job expectation. Maybe someone will read it and think it’s garbage and leave a mean comment. Maybe no one will read it at all. This is how the brain of a person with anxiety works.Do you ever get anxious? Of course you do. It’s a totally natural human emotion that we all have. In my case, however, I occasionally become so anxious that I find myself physically paralyzed, unable to move from the spot I am stuck in. This is anxiety disorder.I was around nine years old when I first experienced anxiety, mostly in relation to school and interactions with my friends. It held steady for most of my youth, but hit a record high during my Freshman year of college. This is a time in life where many people feel an added level of stress, and tend to suffer from anxiety and panic for the first time. My sister, who unlike me has no emotional problems, even suffered from anxiety her Freshman year. Mine was compounded by depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Trichotillomania, which resulted in a massive emotional meltdown and me leaving school altogether.I started seeing a counselor, and after a while I went to a psychiatrist who diagnosed me with bipolar disorder, despite a near total lack of mania. It took many years before I was diagnosed with severe anxiety.I don’t like the word “severe,” but I guess it can apply. I really have been so upset I couldn’t move my muscles. I have had a panic attack that resembled a heart attack. I have had disproportionate reactions to small problems, and I have obsessed about everything, always. I have many irrational fears, I have many worries, and am always thinking of the worst-case scenario.I would say my anxiety is probably the most inconvenient of my issues, because despite taking my medication regularly, it can still get out and mess up my day. Once, I had a panic attack on the way to a cousin’s baby shower and threw up all over my dress. I don’t know why, just because my nerves felt like acting up a little. Another time I was out with some friends and suddenly became so overwhelmed I made my friend pull the car over to let me out, because I couldn’t breathe. These things happen every once in a while, and they leave their mark when they do. I spent a lot of time feeling ashamed that I could not control myself the way other people seem to. It took years before I accepted the fact that my brain works differently than others.A lot of people seem to claim they have anxiety these days, which I’m wary of, because I wonder if they have anxiety like me, or if they have normal everyday anxiety. However, the amount of people who claim to suffer from it is so high that the stigma associated with it is changing rapidly. For instance, despite the second line of this essay, I would not worry about a potential employer finding out that I have anxiety. If you think about it, that can be beneficial in a job position. I will constantly be worrying that my work is accomplished and meeting standards, which can be looked upon favorably. I think a lot of people identify with anxiety because it is a normal emotion. Most seem to understand that those diagnosed with it just live in an anxious state more than others, and that is true. I am always worried, and yes, it is exhausting, but I no longer have terrible panic attacks every few days. I see constant improvement in myself, and that makes me proud. Every day is a new one with new trials, and I try my hardest to face them all head on.Overall, I know that I am in charge of my anxiety now. Yes, it jumps up and surprises me, but more often than not I find myself winning the daily battles. I hope that this article inspires you to solider on in your war against your anxiety. Nothing is ever quite as bad as it seems, despite what we tell ourselves. Anxiety is a liar, and we must always be striving for the truth.

Brigid Hannon is a writer from Buffalo, NY. She can be found online at and on Twitter @stagequeen.

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