I'm a pretty anxious person, and I didn't realize this until a friend told me about her anxiety. Up until that point I'd always thought that I was just a freak, that no one else had these thoughts and feelings.
Anxiety comes in different forms and can vary from mild to severe, usual characteristics are excessive worrying, irrational fear, muscle tension, chronic indigestion, stage fright, self consciousness, panic attacks, self doubt and compulsive behaviors - but not necessarily in an obsessive way.
For me, Anxiety is sitting on the tube, arm and leg muscles tensed to the point of pain for an entire journey because I'm afraid I'll accidentally touch the person next to me. Its not being able to breathe properly if someone gets too close, I start to shake, get fidgety, paranoia, clenching my teeth. I also hate the feeling of someone watching me, its not a problem if they are looking at me and I'm looking back, but if I can't see them and I feel like their eyes are on me then I can't handle it.
I even (often) feel uneasy around my family, but less so than other people. I think I realized just how bad it was in University, when I had to perform a presentation in class. On the day I was so nervous I felt sick. Stood in front of 30 students, I couldn't look at the crowd, my voice shook as I spoke, I stammered, my heart was beating so fast it hurt and I could literally feel my knees shaking. And when it was over I had to try incredibly hard not to cry.
Thinking back to when I was a child, I was so shy of everyone, so nervous all of the time. I remember a friend telling me that when we were in primary school together and I didn't know him that well, that I would look down and whisper when we talked. And ten years later, a different friend who I met at uni, told me the first time I met her I introduced myself to her in a whisper too.
I've only ever had one panic attack, thankfully, so I'm not an authority on that subject. But I just watched Zoella from YouTube's absolutely brilliant video on Panic Attacks, its very helpful - watch here.
Anxiety is one of those things that is kind of swept under the rug, people find it embarrassing, but they shouldn't. If you're reading this and you have anxiety too, you are not alone, its a lot more common than people realize. If you can, try to talk about it. Its only my friend having mentioned hers that made me realize I even had it.
Thank you for reading, xoxo