Recently, I asked my audience on Facebook what does anxiety feels like. We all know what the definition of anxiety is, as per the dictionary; we all know it’s a feeling of intense fear but I wanted to  show the true depths of this mental illness. It’s more than fear and it’s more than something we can “just get over” despite being told this repeatedly by people who simply don’t understand.

“Being anxious about something you shouldn’t be anxious about and then being anxious because you’re anxious about something so stupid.”

— Chantal McCulligh, AnxietyGone

Anxiety is completely debilitating, exhausting, and downright terrifying. It’s a disease in the mind and something we can all overcome together as a team. You are not alone. As you’re about to see in the following responses, there’s someone else out there who understands.

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21 People Explain What Anxiety Feels Like

Thanks to my audience on Facebook, we can show the world what does anxiety feels like in hopes of breaking the stigma associated with mental illness. Here are some of the ways you explained your panic attacks.

 

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“We worry where and when [anxiety attacks] will happen which can cause more stress triggering them; making us feel weak and hopeless.”

Jacinta

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Like a never ending carnival ride with the big drops that switch your throat and stomach position. And no safety harness.”

—Stephanie

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“Terrible.”

Heidi

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Depends on the situation. I can break out into a full body sweat. I can feel nauseous. I can get the shakes. There is a tightness in my chest all the time but can get worse. It can take over my whole body and make things seem way worse than they really are. I can also get angry for no reason. Oh and the shortness of breath too. There is no rhyme or reason to mine.”

Delaney

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The tears the rage the sadness the loneliness.” 

Lee

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“My mind is constantly in motion. I can’t just relax and and be in the moment without thinking of needs to be done which creates anxiety for me and sometimes leads to panic attacks.”

Anonymous

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“One step seems like a mile, a second feels like forever.”

Crystal

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“It’s like a weight is being placed on me. Like someone just handed me a giant stone and I think the only relief will be to lay down with it but it just gets heavier and then I’m trapped.
I feel like if I go to sleep it’ll be gone when I wake up, but it’s still there. Often there are moments of panic (heart rate increase, palpitations, heavy breathing, etc.) that can set in but mostly just a feeling of “Shit, I’m stuck”. The weight is a physical reaction to all of the uncontrolled irrational thinking. The more irrational thinking the heavier the weight becomes making me need to lay down. The more laying down the more irrational thinking and sleep I think I need to escape it. Then the harder it is to do the smallest tasks… Enter depression!! Yay!”

—Adam

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It’s more of a “have to live it to believe it” kind of experience!”

—Melanie

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It’s the opposite of excited and not nervous. It’s a constant feeling of doom and minutes take forever to pass. Feel like I could faint, go crazy, die and just want a moment to breathe.” 

Jacinta

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“Immediate sweating, hot flashes and nausea that make you feel like the world is crashing in on you, but only on you as everyone else watches on with smiles on their faces. It’s a tingling sensations that rises up from your toes and doesn’t stop until your entire body is numb; you feel like you have lost all control; the room starts spinning, time slows down, and it feels like you’re watching life from the outside.”

Sean

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“Anxiety is a weird beast.”

Jonathan

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“There’s a misconception that anxious people are antisocial, short-fused or over-dramatic. But they’re most likely processing everything around them so intensely that they can’t handle a lot of questions, people or heavy information all at once. Anxiety is when you feel everything.”

— Katie Crawford, Huffington Post

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“Couldn’t get up to work..couldn’t eat.ended up in bed whole day.

Mhel

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“A burning desire to run; to escape reality, the situation – life. It’s like a rush of panic that is completely unexplainable combined with physical symptoms that make you panic more, and then the depression sets in. After the attack, you then have to deal with a bucket load of emotions because you don’t feel normal or worthy – or worthy of being normal. Then, set in the panic because you can’t do normal things. It’s a vicious cycle; like when someone jumps out from a corner to scare you… Only times a million and 24 hours a day.”

Nicole M. 

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“Torture.”

Heidi

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“What does anxiety feel like? Death. It feels like life is about to come to an end and not because of the attack per se, but because of the emotions that follow. Anxiety feels like you’ll never like a normal life, like you’ll always be a disappointment. The attacks are debilitating but nothing compared to the emotional turmoil sufferers deal with on a daily basis.

— Michael J. 

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“Like a clam wanting to withdrawal.”

— Ben J. 

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“Like the world is spinning around you; everyone is moving forward but you’re stuck in this one place, panicking.”

— Lucas

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“It starts of slowly, building anticipation as you near the peak of the attack. It’s like being on a rollercoaster, blind-folded and not strapped in as you rise up to the top; you know there’s about to be an explosion of feels erupting in your mind and body, and all you can do is hold on for dear life in hopes that you don’t fall apart as the coaster comes crashing down. But the rollercoaster never stops. It slows down but it never stops; it always goes back up that peak, and around and around you go, with absolutely no control. You’re just holding on.

— Becki 

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You can read every book that explains, what does anxiety feel like but you’ll never actually know until you know. Thank you to everyone who offered a look inside the most vulnerable part of their life. Together, we can break the stigma and overcome this terrible disease.