It’s a bright, sunny day. You had a wonderful weekend; you went out with friends and family; you ended up going to the movies with your partner, you went to your favourite restaurant. You also made out the time to read your favourite book while sitting in the warm sun with the cold wind blowing on your face. The weekend couldn’t have been better. Everything is fine, everything is good. The world has got you. But then you wake up the next day, with your heart beating so loud and fast, it’s threatening to beat out of your chest. You are in a pool of sweat, you’re unable to move while your mind is working in overdrive, searching for reasons why this could be happening. Are you dying? Are you on the verge of a nervous breakdown? Is there something wrong with you? This is what anxiety is, and this is what anxiety does. Even when everything is going perfectly for you, your brain thinks that there is something that is not right. But what’s not right? That it can’t figure out. So you spend your minutes, hours, days and weeks trying, but failing, to calm yourself down, to tell yourself that everything is ok even when it feels that nothing is. You try breathing exercises to force the anxiety out of you. You try to meditate or do yoga. You try picking up a hobby (if you even have the strength to do so) to distract yourself. Unsuccessfully. You try making plans with friends only to back out at the last minute because you can’t even think of going out on a social visit. You skip work. You start skipping meals. You stop sleeping. And in a matter of days, your life has become an actual mess. Anxiety is an illness like no other. It does not only affect you when a tragedy takes place as the death of a loved one, or termination from a job you love, or when you have a fight with your best friend. It also affects you when you can’t find the black jeans that you were supposed to wear to work, or when you are supposed to have an impromptu meeting with your colleagues, or when you are about to finish your favourite TV show because then what will you watch? What will you do when you need to wake up at 8.30 AM for work but you can’t fall asleep? How will you face people when you’ve gained weight, something that people will probably not even notice, but you’re worried sick about the comments they may or may not make? How will you ever get past this constant worrying, this consistent anxiety that gnaws at you every second of every day telling you that you need to worry or you’ll die? Anxiety is a disorder. Hundreds of thousands of people go through it every day; some with reason, some without. But it is a disorder that haunts countless people every day. It is not a “state of mind”, it is not “a fashionable disease”. It is an uncontrollable one. Talk to someone who frequently goes through a panic attack and they’ll tell you how much they’d want not to be this anxious, not to worry about things little and big, not to think the world around them is going to crash down. Talk to a group of people with anxiety disorders; not one of them wants to feel this way. Think of it as an illness, much like cancer or AIDs or hepatitis. An illness that needs professional help to be treated. As a person who has a severe anxiety disorder, I’ve ruined a lot of my relationships, personal and professional because of my anxiety. I’ve ruined a lot of memorable events in my life because I was curled up into a ball in a corner, not understanding what was happening to me. I’ve ruined friendships when I would cancel on plans at the last minute because I couldn’t imagine the thought of going out; even the thought of getting out of bed made me panic even more. And as a person who is trying to get her life back on track, one day at a time, I would definitely say that professional treatment and therapy helps. It helps because a professional would never tell you to “chill”. They’d never tell you to “relax and try not to make a big deal out things”. They’ll try to figure out the source of your anxiety; they’ll help you with figuring out the ways of resolving it. They’ll help you look at the bigger picture. Most importantly, they’ll realise that you have a problem and they’ll help you fix it. For anyone and everyone who is going through anxiety, with or without reason, do not think it’ll go away on its own unless you have proper solutions for fixing it. Do not think it’s not a big deal. Do not take it lightly. Talking to friends and family does help but since they’re not professionals, they will not be able to cure you. Seek professional help. It will help you as nothing else can. Remove toxic people from your life, no matter how hard it is. Eat healthily. Exercise. Sleep timely. Meditate. Pick up a hobby. Go out for a walk. Look at the birds chirping, look at the flowers blooming. And see for yourself that the world is not crashing down; in fact, life has just begun to feel ever so beautiful. Don’t let anxiety ruin your life. Don’t let anxiety rule you. You’re not alone. You’ve got this. We’re all in this together. The writer is a feminist, a bookworm who wants to save the world, one person at a time.