Last year, I posted this and it details how my anxiety manifests itself in outwardly “positive” ways. I’m super punctual because I get terrible stomach cramps when I’m late. I’m a really hard worker because god forbid I ever make a mistake because then it’s the end of the world, and I’m a great planner (because I’m sure I’m one step away from doom and have to have plans b-z as backup).
And sometimes I’m thankful for having anxiety because it does push me, but 95% of the time I’d rather do without it.
That post resonated with a lot of people who feel like the world praises them for being “so put together” when behind the veil it doesn’t feel like that. It’s like having this huge case of imposter syndrome.
For others, it didn’t resonate at all. In fact, they have the opposite experience with their anxiety.
Which is completely valid. My anxiety looks vastly different from the way that it did when I first started experiencing it at 15. Part of that is I’ve learned a lot of coping skills, part of it is growing older and life experience, and part of it is just learning to work around what makes me anxious.
But because that post went viral, a lot of people were finding me for the first time, and the only thing they had to judge me on was a post that amounted to “I don’t like being late so I must have anxiety.”
They told me I wasn’t anxious, I was just a Type A personality. “Real” anxiety means being too anxious to go to work or showing up late because anxiety made it so hard to leave the house.
I had the “cute” anxiety people make memes about. I was harming the mental health community by portraying anxiety the way that I did in that post.
Anxiety presents itself in so many ways.
What I want people to understand is that we are all so different and I can only ever speak from my personal experiences or what I am experiencing in the moment. It’s so important that we all understand and respect the differences of each other’s experiences.
Let’s talk about the Biopsychosocial Model for Mental Health.
I found the Biopsychosocial Model for Mental Health while I was reading about mental health and it really put it into perspective how much goes into making us who we are and how many things can influence our mental health.
Some people suffer from depression because of their brain chemistry, others because of a traumatic event, and others as a side effect of medication. That’s why there is no one-size-fits-all approach to mental health.
Mental health is just as multilayered as physical health. When someone says “I’m having knee pain.” We find out *why*. We find out what things are affecting that knee pain. Maybe they injured it during a hike, maybe they’re wearing the wrong shoes, or maybe they have arthritis – and if we give each of them the same treatment we might help one of them but what about the other two? And maybe one person’s knee pain only acts up sometimes and another person is in too much pain to walk. They both still have knee pain.
Not only is it important to realize that what works for us won’t work for everyone (try not to be that person that says “well if you just did xyz. Unless you’re asked!”), we also have to learn that not every tip, suggestion, or treatment will work for/apply to us and that’s totally okay too.
Our pain is different. The treatment is different. However you experience what you’re going through is valid. Your anxiety doesn’t have to look like mine to still be anxiety.