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By Caitlin Sullivan

Do you know what it's like to live with anxiety?

"Anxiety" is a word that everyone has heard; but not everyone knows how it feels. There are also many people who have a false sense of what anxiety is actually like. There are so many misconceptions about anxiety and mental health in general. As someone who suffers from it, I feel it is only right of me to clear up some of the details about what it is actually like to live with anxiety.

Most people think that anxiety is something that everyone deals with. They think that feeling anxious, like how you feel before a first date or an important day at work, is anxiety. But anxiety is something completely separate from that. Anxiety is constant, whereas feeling anxious is a temporary feeling.

Anxiety is waking up in the morning and being scared to leave your house. The only problem is that you have no idea why you're scared. It's a voice in the back of your head that never leaves you. It constantly makes you believe that something is wrong, but it never tells you what that something is.

Anxiety is breaking out in tears without having any idea as to why. It's shaking hands, sweaty palms and a racing heart. Anxiety is inexplicable fits of rage that can come and go in an instant. Anxiety makes you isolate yourself from the world because it makes you believe you are crazy and have no one to turn to.

Another misconception is that anxiety comes and goes; in reality, your anxiety is always there. Some days it is just louder than others. There are days when your anxiety is screaming at you and incapacitates you. Then there are good days, where your anxiety is more of a whisper – more of an afterthought that you can ignore.

That, in my opinion, is the scariest part of anxiety. It's unpredictable. You can go days where you feel almost normal and can keep it under control. Then suddenly you wake up one morning crying and shaking and you can't force yourself to leave your house. What's even scarier is you have no idea how long that feeling will last. It could go away in a few minutes or it can last for hours, and no matter what you do, you can't shake it.

I think that the stigma and misinformation spread about anxiety and mental illness in general needs to come to an end. In a time where we all have an endless source of information readily at our fingertips, we need to do a better job at understanding it. Understanding anxiety and having open and honest conversations about it will help make this world a better place for those who suffer from anxiety.

In general, I feel that our society tries to sweep mental illness under the rug and pretend it doesn't exist because it doesn't affect them. But to grow and be better as a society, we need to start understanding it and one another. To help future generations, we need to have open and honest conversations and do what we can to help our fellow man.

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