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Erin Whitten Headshot

Awake in a Nightmare

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Everyone has those days where they are stressed over something, whether it is a test, confrontation or even learning something new. But imagine living with that stress every single day. Anxiety is more than what meets the eye, where some people can easily mask it and others have it control their lives.

Recently, I have been in the position of helping somebody close to me who has severe anxiety problems, and I see the true terrors of what without a doubt goes on. I used to think it was just being nervous over something, but in reality it is so much more atrocious. Some days they cannot even leave the house, or even their own beds. They get more than stressed out, with panic attacks lasting for over an hour of barely breathing and tears. So many meaningful lives around me have been impacted by this horrid disorder, and I see the every day realities of their day. Waking up is a chore, trying to do everything so precisely without having a major panic attack, then their pure endeavor just to even get into school, if they can that day.

As a close friend to a sufferer to this awful disorder, I thought to myself "Well, maybe I can help him with his anxiety," but boy I was wrong. If you know somebody suffering, you can only help so much, without you focusing on yourself. As a friend, be there for them, and do not give up on them, because as a friend you need to see it's not the person's fault. For many people it can become overwhelming, but do not forget YOU DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE! Although they may not seem too enthused about it, in the long-run, it makes a huge improvement in the person's attitude. It pushes them to be stronger every single day. Watching somebody go through this can be emotionally draining and even physically draining, which is completely normal, and you should not feel guilty over it.

Never just give up on a person with anxiety. At times you will feel hopeless, and just plainly terrible about the situation, but just remember you are an asset, not just a friend. With anxiety can bring tears, a lot of tears, but some of the most passionate and truthful conversations you could ever remember having with a person. A person opens up the most, when they are going through a lot, so you can only imagine how broad these conversations can get. Loving somebody is the biggest difference, and the impact will inevitably make you feel so great about yourself

Sometimes with society, they end up thinking anxiety is a big joke, and you can just "get over it," and at a point I even thought that, but than realized it causes pure catastrophic effects to a person's life. My hope is for the future, more people will become aware of the damage it can cause to a colleague, friend, lover, or even family, without the person saying its no big deal.