"I'm terrified of speaking in front of people." "I cringe when my mother does my laundry, and I have to wash my clothes all over again just to undo what she did."
"Please don't breathe in my space. I can't stand other people's germs."
If you struggle with anxiety and/or OCD symptoms, these statements are probably familiar to you. OCD symptoms mean you have some symptoms consistent with obsessive compulsive disorder (a severe type of anxiety), but not the full range of symptoms that would qualify you for the disorder. In other words, you can still function but it's complicated. And if you've thought these statements, you probably wouldn't dare say them out loud. In fact, you probably seem pretty "normal" to other people, but the internal anguish you experience is so unbearable that you feel anything but. So does this mean you're weird? Perhaps. But we're ALL a little bit weird. And what you're experiencing is problematic but not impossible to deal with.Let me give you some perspective. Everyone has anxiety— we need it to survive. If we didn't have it, we'd all be like couch potatoes with little motivation to do anything. The problem becomes when we have so much anxiety that we can't tolerate the slightest discomfort, or be happy, or just at peace. Our bodies react to fear with a fight or flight mechanism that allows us to react to danger quickly and without much thought. All unnecessary bodily functions shut down, and we either fight or run away. It's the body's way of preserving itself during emergency situations. But if you're struggling with anxiety, your body is in flight or fight mode all too often, even when there is no life-threatening danger. This is taxing on the body and has been known to be the cause of a number of physical ailments.
So why would we be so afraid when there is no real threat? The mind is very powerful, and if you learned to associate an event, place, or behavior with fear then that association gets strengthened each time you avoid it. This is why it's important not to make anxiety-based decisions. But even if you've had a moment of weakness and gave in to anxiety, a little self-compassion can diminish anxiety's power over you. So what you did something goofy. It's probably a bigger deal to you then to other people. Self-defeating thoughts and sore feelings may creep in, but you can change your thoughts and your feelings will follow.
It's important to know that you are not your anxiety. Think of it as this "thing" that tries to suppress our potential. It's like a selfish little scoundrel, and prevents us from giving to others the God-given gifts we were meant to share with the world. So where does this "thing" come from? It can be explained by a number of factors, some of which are outside of our control. For instance, biological factors may make you more predisposed to experiencing anxiety than others, and you may have to work a little harder to fight it than the next guy. But we all have to fight something in our lives and you may find that afterwards you come out much stronger than you would have been had you not had to give anxiety a swift kick in the pants over and over again. The more you fight, the more anxiety loses its sting, and you can spend more time focusing on being the best you, weirdness and all. ♥
*The information in this post is not meant to take the place of mental health treatment. If you are in fact dealing with anxiety and /or OCD symptoms, please seek the help of a treating professional.*