To the average non anxious person, this seems like a perfectly legitimate question. However, to a person who is suffering day in and day out with anxiety symptoms, it's questions like these that make you want to literally put your fist through a brick wall.
For those of you who experience crippling anxiety all the time - let me put your mind at rest. It is not all in your head - anxiety disorders do indeed exist. No, you are not over reacting and no, you are not insane.
For those of you who have never had the displeasure of experiencing an anxiety disorder, or quite simply, for those of you who do not understand what's it's like to have an anxiety disorder - let me also put something to rest - they do exist - and the constant denial and shaming from people who cannot understand mental illness is leading to suicide of illnesses that could very well have been treated.
To put this into perspective, let's look at some statistics:
It is estimated that 1 in 4 people are suffering with a mental health related issue currently.
In 2015 in the UK, the recorded number of deaths due to mental health related suicide was 6188. To put this into even more perspective: that is between 16 and 17 suicides a day!
Meanwhile in America, it is estimated that there are over 30 000 suicides every year.
These are scary statistics for something that supposedly doesn't exist!
Let me lay it out plain, simply and bluntly:
Firstly, anxiety disorders do exist and secondly an anxiety disorder is very different from anxiety or stress, and there have been quite a few times now where I have come across articles or videos which claim that these statements are not true.
Funny enough, the very people making these claims are people who have never experienced an anxiety disorder or a mental illness.
These are also the same people who insist that 'everyone gets sad sometimes' or 'we all get moments when we are stressed out'
While it is obviously true that everyone does get sad and/or stressed sometimes within their lives, the key word to bear in mind here is sometimes.
You see, while your average person may struggle with stress or anxious symptoms when under pressure, these symptoms will last short term.
A person suffering with anxiety disorder, depression or any other type of mental illness doesn't have the luxury of their symptoms appearing sometimes or appearing for the short term.
When a human being becomes afraid or nervous, their flight or fight response is activated, resulting in adrenaline being released, causing symptoms like increased heart rate, shakiness, sweating and what is commonly described as having the butterflies.
We have all experienced that, but once the scary scenario has passed, so does the flight or fight response.
Now imagine having your flight or fight mechanism permanently switched on!
That is what an anxiety disorder feels like!
It's crippling, it's over bearing and it's irrational - it's disordered fear - which is why it's called anxiety disorder. It's a distorted and dramatic feeling that never goes away and most of the time, you never know the reasons why you feel that way.
So I ask you again, do anxiety disorders really exist?
When we examine the suicide statistics due to mental illness, do we even reserve the right to be asking questions like this?
Are questions such as these perhaps showing genuine ignorance and that we need to create more awareness on mental illnesses?
Perhaps we need to flip the coin to the other side and start talking about the survivors of mental illness more, instead of only focusing on those who have succumb to suicide,
or maybe, just maybe, until we have actually experienced something ourselves, we need to ask, do we really have the right to pass judgement?