August 3, 2016 Erica 1 Comment
The first time I heard of an Anxiety Disorder, my first thought was “Wait, that’s a thing?” I think it was my freshman year of high school, so I already knew that I was a lot more anxious and paranoid than my friends, and I knew it was problematic. I thought though that it was just a personality trait. Some people are tidier than others, some are sportier, I must just be more anxious than other people.
The article probably would have helped me get treatment a lot sooner, but unfortunately I fell pray to the true killer: comparison. The man who wrote the article described how he had a sudden-onset panic attack for no reason in which he couldn’t breathe and his heart was racing but he didn’t know why. I had never experienced something like that. My freshman year of high school I hadn’t even had my first panic attack, just a myriad of nervous breakdowns and anxiety attacks. My anxiety always seemed to have a reason.
So I read this article and my reaction was “I must be fine because I’m not as bad as that guy, and if I’m not as bad as that guy, my anxiety can’t be at a medical level. I guess I shouldn’t be complaining”. I’m here to tell you friends:
That’s not how it works.
So what if your symptoms aren’t as bad as the person next to you? So what if you have symptoms another person with the same thing doesn’t have? Your health is not a competition. Your illness is perfectly valid regardless of whether or not it’s “as bad” as someone else’s. I wasn’t diagnosed with anxiety disorders I clearly had for years until my freshman year of college when I literally could not function, and why? Because I thought I had no right to complain when someone else had it worse. I thought I couldn’t have this same diagnosis because someone else experienced different symptoms than me. That makes me pretty mad, honestly.
So I’m warning you right now. Don’t compare yourself to the person sitting next to you. Or the person on the internet with the same diagnosis who seems to suffer from glass bones and paper skin. You are you and they are they. If you think you have a problem, if you feel like something is wrong, go see a doctor. Maybe you’ll end up wasting a visit, but take it from me: time is just as efficient at making things worse as it is at making them better. The difference is you.
Originally Written: January 22, 2016