It is said that clinical depression is the “common cold” of mental illness. If this is true, I think that it is highly likely that anxiety is just as common, kind of like the flu. Every time I write a post about depression, mental illness, etc., it is just as common for me to hear from others who say they suffer from anxiety as from depression. Unfortunately, it is something that is often brushed aside by others, as in, “yeah, yeah, who doesn’t have it?”.
I think that this is because people confuse anxiety with stress. This is understandable, because stress usually accompanies anxiety, and vice versa. Anxiety, however, can truly be crippling. It can make an otherwise outgoing person paralyzed by social anxiety. A normally laid back person can become overwhelmed by fears. A decidedly care-free person can have thoughts that will not escape them (perseverative thoughts), no matter how hard they try.
I am someone who is very familiar with the effects of OCD. I know what it is like to be consumed by thoughts that you just can’t shake. Or to have routines that if not enacted, cause you to feel a sense of gloom and doom. I must say that as someone who has experienced both OCD and Mood Disorder, I think the OCD is just as emotionally debilitating.
It’s no joke.
Sometimes, the OCD or anxiety condition fuels the depression, and vice versa, compounding and augmenting one another. The synergistic effect is not pretty. I would not wish it on my worst enemy.
It is kind of ironic that our society views OCD as “cute”. People love to make jokes about it and say “I’m OCD like that” or “I’m so OCD”.
They obviously are not. Anyone who has ever suffered from the condition, and I do mean suffer, knows that there is nothing cute about it. I think that this notion that it is “cute” needs to change. It’s great that there is not as much stigma attached to it, don’t get me wrong. I just think people who have experienced it deserve more credit and respect. It is a war within your mind. When you go through it, it is truly emotionally and physically exhausting.
So, what can you do about clinical anxiety? The kind that is affecting your health, well-being, career, and relationships? There are some basic tips, like staying away from caffiene, increasing exercise, meditating, using essential oils, therapy, etc. I think, however, from my experience, that it is important to get to your doctor. There are medical conditions like thyroid disorder, hormonal imbalances, etc. that could be contributing, and that can be easily corrected. There are also psychiatric medications that can help. I am not saying that they are the answer for everything or for everyone, or that they are a solitary solution. Often treatment should combine a number of techniques and interventions that work as a team to fight the anxiety. I am, however, saying that your doctor should be consulted, without hesitation, if the anxiety is affecting your quality of life in any way.
If you are someone who has suffered from clinical anxiety (social anxiety, OCD, PTSD, etc.), look at yourself in the mirror. Gaze into your own eyes and say “thank you”. Beam with pride, because you are an emotional warrior. The admirably decorated kind.
You are a hero.