I have always been an anxious person. If we were to gauge a person’s anxiety levels on a typical day, with a score out of 100, with 0 being totally calm and 100 at the point of nervous break down, an average person would fluctuate between 0 and 10. My levels would fluctuate between 10 and 40. I am never at 0, even on my best days.
If public speaking adds 30 to a person’s anxiety level, my level will be at a minimum 40, and could reach as high as 70.
After living with anxiety for my entire life, I have come to the conclusion that those with anxiety are the most courageous people on the planet.
In war, only the stupid are not fearful before battle. The bravest soldiers are actually the ones who are the most scared. Despite their fears, they stand up and perform their duty, no matter how much their mind is telling them to run far away. That is true bravery.
For those with anxiety, every day is a battle, sometimes several. During my worst period, each morning before work I would be sick while walking to my car. Any day that I reached the driver’s seat with my breakfast still intact was a great day.
You’re probably thinking that I was just stressed due to some problems in the office, but no, work was in-fact great. My being sick each morning was due to being in what I refer to as an anxiety trap.
Anxiety traps are what I find myself in after a 100 out of 100 level panic attack. They are a significant part of the anxiety story and as such have their own dedicated post, which you must read if you live with or want to learn about anxiety.
For me, 100 out of 100 level anxiety attacks are rare. In my life I have experienced two attacks of this magnitude, during which there is a feeling of both mass hysteria, and impending doom. If you have never experienced a serious panic attack, think of the most scared you have ever been in your life, multiply that by one thousand, and at the same time, imagine a gun is being held to your head and you’re about to die.
Attacks of this magnitude are irrational of course. It makes no sense to have a feeling of doom and despair when you are perfectly healthy and will wake up tomorrow in a warm bed, with breakfast prepared by your loving partner.
Anxiety for me is something that I learned will always be there. I need to be conscious of it, and acknowledge its existence. It is a spoilt brat, quick to temper, that requires babysitting. If it misbehaves, it needs to be disciplined. If discipline fails then it is imperative that a distraction is found, else the brat will create a mess so large it will take months to clean up.