For this post, I want to move away from the objective, technical aspects of anxiety. It seems time to move into into the personal experience of anxiety and panic.
I spent a while trying to describe how it feels to have a problem with anxiety and panic. The results were dissatisfying; perhaps because I was presenting a secondhand account.
This is the list of emotions and thoughts that I have often observed in people with anxiety disorders:
•feeling fearful, angry, frozen in place
•experiencing physical weakness
•feeling emotionally vulnerable, weak
•a sense of personal failing
•being sure that one is flawed
•believing that you are inferior to others
•feeling out of control
•assuming that others are looking at/talking about you in a negative way
•one should, ought to be able to do better and to “be normal”
•being harshly self-critical
•having low self-confidence
•I’m gonna die
•I’m going crazy
•second guessing oneself
•feeling sick, nauseous
•the worst thing ever just happened or is about to happen
•being alone, uniquely stricken
•nobody understands, I’m all alone in this
What I wanted to present was the meaning that people take from their anxiety problems. Somebody with another medical problem, say the flu, would not so readily interpret it to hold importance for their view of themselves. But persons with anxiety, depression or other emotional/mental illness are quick to take their symptoms as unquestioned truths about themselves.
Then it occurred to me that there must be some first person accounts on the web.
A little searching revealed that YouTube has a number of videos submitted by persons with anxiety disorders. These people do a much better job of describing their experience than I can from a secondhand vantage point.
Please spend some time watching the video posts. It’s well worth your time. Perhaps one of the most remarkable things is how open these people are about their experiences. Yet, as many of them say themselves, they have trouble just being around other people. Somehow the Internet affords them a sense of comfort in talking about themselves that they don’t experience with many of their family and friends.
These are just a few of the videos available on this topic at YouTube. I think you will find these posts to be poignant and illuminating.
In future posts, I will talk more about the psychological meaning and impact of chronic anxiety and panic.