Approximately 12 per cent of Canadians are affected by anxiety disorders. The mental illness can take various forms, from phobias to panic disorders to agoraphobia to obsessive-compulsive disorder and more, according to Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada.
Anxiety can affect anyone at any age and can be brought on by traumatic events and stress. For those affected by the condition, anxiety can be debilitating, overwhelming, heartbreaking, and can have a serious impact on the way a person goes about their life.
That’s exactly what Sarah Fader, founder of the mental health nonprofit Stigma Fighters, wants you to realize. In early February Fader, 37, tweeted at her followers asking them to share their anxiety stories using #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike.
Please join me using #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike hashtag with your anxious stories of being anxious.
— Sarah Fader (@TheSarahFader) February 11, 2017
Two months later, the hashtag is still going strong.
Always feeling like people you meet won’t like you and feeling like those you know don’t actually like you #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike
— Maggie O’Brien (@Maggie_OBrien5) April 4, 2017
— Joy Pearson (@JoyPearson) March 21, 2017
Being afraid to go to see the doctor because they think your “faking” very real physical symptoms. #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike
— Dr Javeed Sukhera (@javeedsukhera) February 12, 2017
Feeling like a caged animal is inside your chest trying to claw its way out #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike
— Linda K 🇨🇦 (@_theheadcabbage) February 12, 2017
— Ben e (@Ben_e_1) March 21, 2017
Like a suppressed scream, that is stuck in your chest. #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike
I don’t usually hashtag, but anxiety is my life.
— angela elizabeth (@moodyangela) February 12, 2017
Can’t physically get out of bed in the morning because even the thought of brushing your teeth is too stressful #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike
— Kat Guerin (@katguerin) February 12, 2017
Analyzing every conversation you had that day, looking for all the things you would’ve said if you were calm #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike
— Lenny Atfield (@gogglespizano33) February 12, 2017
Though the message is widespread, anxiety is still misunderstood, as responses show that some still mistake it for a general state of worry. True anxiety can last for long periods of time and cause serious distress.
Fortunately, anxiety can be treated through counselling, medication and even self-help techniques. If a loved one is suffering from anxiety, The Canadian Mental Health Association suggests supporting them by learning about the illness and helping patients practice new skills. In some cases, families may even want to seek family counselling to help.