This is what anxiety feels like

I am wide awake but it feels like I am dreaming. I look around me, I feel like it is just a nightmare and I will be awake in a second. I pinch myself, I try to wake up but I realise I am already awake.

This is life. This is my reality right now.

It is so bad, it is so hard that it feels surreal that I can live like that every single day. Sometimes my mind just can’t take it anymore and travels to faraway places where everything is different, where everything is better. Strangely I feel like I am neither there nor here.

Later I learn that this is something called depersonalisation and a common symptom of an anxiety disorder.

This depersonalisation is both scary and nice. I feel strange – I am not myself. At the same time it helps me, it shuts down my brain and saves me from this nightmare. I feel like I can breathe again. I can fill my lungs with air once again. It feels so nice not to be drowning for a moment.

But then the moment is gone. I look around me – the nightmare is real, the demons around me, the demons in my head, they are all here and I start drowning again.

I ask God ‘How am I going to be able to survive? Am I going to be able to survive? When will it all end?’

The only response I hear is ‘You are strong enough to withstand the storm.’

Am I really? Am I going to be able to do it forever?

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The next day I have to go out. I have to travel by myself on the tube. My anxiety kicks in. I go out the door and the panic starts. I begin to sweat, I can’t catch my breath, my heart is racing, my hands are shaking, my stomach is hurting. I go into the train, it goes underground, I put my headphones on and pray that the music will help. It doesn’t. I hear every odd sound, I feel everything. It is hot and this makes my nausea worse. The train stops. It has to wait for another train in front of us. We have to wait for a mere minute. It seems like eternity to me. I finally arrive at my destination and can finally catch my breath again. I am still shaking, I am still a nervous wreck, but at least I am out. God was merciful once again.

Someone is talking to me. I can’t hear them, I don’t understand. My mind’s shut down. They don’t know that. I have to behave normal. How do I do this?

It is best if I stop talking to people altogether. They have too many questions I can’t answer. Anxiety says it’s safe to hide and pretend nothing’s wrong.

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Today I have to shower, I have to prepare something to eat, I have to do some work. But the mighty anxiety has other plans. Today in reality I will be tired beyond compare, I will be full of emotions and I will have to spend the day in bed crying.

Another day comes. I wake up tired, I feel like I haven’t slept at all. The day starts with the same body aches, nausea and fatigue. I have been battling anxiety for so long now that I have forgotten what it was really like to feel healthy most of the days. I used to love food, now I hate it, because my anxiety destroyed my stomach and I feel sick after every meal. Thank you, anxiety.

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My family wants to make plans for our summer holiday but I am afraid. How can I make plans when I don’t know what my anxiety will bring on these days? Am I going to be strong enough to deal with the panic and the pain again? Is it going to be alright if I am not? Are they going to love me anyway?

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