Whenever I start to explain the part of my mental illness diagnosis that includes severe anxiety, I always receive confused looks. They are usually followed by judgemental comments about how “everyone has problems and stress in their lives,” telling me that I need to “learn to cope and work through it all.”
I get told that I “shouldn’t let every little thing get to me” and that I’d be so much happier if I “stopped stressing over everything and just mellowed out.”
I have others that have gone so far as to make accusations about whether my anxiety is even real or just in my head. They’ll question how I could claim I’m “too anxious” to go somewhere to fill out paperwork yet am “perfectly comfortable attending things like farmer’s markets or street fairs.” I’ve tried to explain that it isn’t the same thing.
I don’t have social anxiety. People and crowds are not my issue.
My anxiety is situational and builds upon itself, making it harder to function in some situations than others.
I’ve tried to explain my anxiety again and again until I was blue in the face, yet I’ve been met with blank stares or judgements more often than not. I finally sat down and made an overly simplified chart, similar to the pain level chart used in doctor’s offices, in the hope that it might be more relatable and help others understand.
I know the chart I made is extremely simplified – anyone struggling with anxiety can testify that it is often so much worse, but I wanted to give examples that anyone could relate to, as well as providing a build up they might be able to imagine in their own lives.