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Examining anxiety

By Jenny Filush-Glaze
Grief Relief

From an early age, everyone envisions having the “perfect” life. We strive to reach goals and work tirelessly to pursue our dreams, only stopping when something unexpected happens to throw a wrench into our hopes and dreams. Enter anxiety. Believe it or not, anxiety is extremely common and most of us can even say that we have experienced some high or low levels of angst at some point in our lives. The thing about anxiety, if not addressed, is that it can become debilitating and create unwanted chaos in a life that we once thought was “well ordered” but now feels as though it is careening out of control.

I’m writing about anxiety because I have met with countless numbers of individuals who are expressing profound sadness over something they feel has “taken over their lives.” And yes, there are many different levels of anxiety, but just the fact that it is there and they notice it impacting their lives makes them feel “set apart” from friends and family around them. In their words, “Nobody gets it. Nobody understands how I feel or what I am going through. In fact, they seem to shrug it off and can’t understand why I can’t just “get over it.” Point blank, anxiety is often triggered by environmental factors, people, places, sounds etc. The most cognizant person suffering from anxiety can tell you that they eventually can feel it “coming on” and they know situations to avoid if possible, but the truth is that anxiety often has a mind of its own and can blindside you without a moment’s notice.

Here’s the main thing that I wish for everyone to understand- those suffering from anxiety and those who are trying to support them: Anxiety is the real deal. And because it is real, we need to be focusing more on trying to understand its origins instead of brushing off how people feel or discounting their reactions to certain events. Some people express feeling “shame” about their anxiety because they think that this sets them apart from others and makes them “different.” They struggle to feel normal and then beat themselves up if they cannot function the way others want them to be. Now, when I say “normal,” I am referencing the unrealistic expectation that we are all living “perfect” lives and that anything seen as “less than” is simply “not enough.” People who suffer from anxiety place that burden upon themselves and it is only reinforced by the people who surround them because they don’t understand the debilitating power of anxiety. It wreaks havoc and causes doubt and uncertainty. 

If you or a loved one is experiencing anxiety, do your due diligence to attempt to understand it better. Read the information that is out there, speak with your personal physician or seek some counseling. Anxiety shouldn’t be a negative label that we grieve forever, especially if we adapt and discover ways to minimize the power it wields.