I have to admit that anxiety is something that I personally have struggled with during my entire life. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States 18 and older. This comes to roughly 18% of the U.S population. Uhm, wow!
The ADAA states that anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events. Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment.
I can relate on not wanting treatment. There are specific circumstances to which I am more likely to react negatively to. In fact, yesterday on the subway a man started up on a racist tirade, and he was screaming directly at me.
In NYC, most people can just brush this off as just another drunk man, but it makes me extremely anxious. I was trying to explain to my wife why I felt so agitated. She didn’t understand why my hands started to shake, why my heart began to race, why I started to get sweaty, and why I immediately enter into fight of flight mode.
Growing up, I was painfully shy, I often shut down in social settings and just picked a corner to hide in. Loud noises, like the door that was just slammed outside my home make me nervous.Crowds terrify me, and I get extremely anxious even when meeting up with friends.
As I have become older, I have learned to better cope. Thrusting myself into situations that force to me face my fears head on, over and over again. I’ve gone so far as going on television shows multiple times, performing my most vulnerable poetry pieces in front of perfect strangers, and delivering political speeches in front of hundreds of listeners. This is how I cope with my anxiety. Doesn’t make a lot of sense does it?
The following photographs are by Katie Crawford. Crawford, a 2015 Louisiana State University Fine Arts grad will take us on a visual journey illustrating what it is like to suffer from Anxiety and Depression.
Thankfully, I have never reached a point where the anxiety incapacitated me, and up until this point I have been able to overcome my episodes without any medical aids. However, for some people it can be a terrible and debilitating experience. Though I recognize that I have anxiety problems, mine are nowhere near as intense as what Katie illustrates here. Anxiety and depression are quite real disorders, and should be treated as such.
I’m so numb, that being numb has become a feeling.
Depression is when you can’t feel at all. Anxiety is when you feel too much. Having both is a constant war within your own mind. Having both means never winning.
Sleeping in the dark doesn’t scare me, the shadows created from the light in the dark do.
The anxiety and depression are ever present, ready to take over at a moment’s notice.
It feels like you are always holding a glass of water. Never letting go. Then one day you drop it, you let it fall and break.
You fear living, while fearing death. Trapped in existence.
The scars are deep and never healing.
My mind is my prison. There is no escape. I think, it’s worst. I don’t think, it’s worst. It will pass.
It lives in the pit of your stomach. It’s like reaching for the bottom of the pool with your toes, but realizing you are in too deep.
I know I’m breathing, I see my breath, but I can’t breathe.
Featured photo credit: Katie Crawford http://www.refinery29.com/2015/05/87447/photos-show-what-its-like-to-have-general-anxiety-disorder#slide via refinery29.comFollow @AngelRtalk
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The opinions and views expressed are solely those of the author.