By Farah Radzuan
Being nervous before a big presentation is very common because it helps you to be alert and well prepared. But what’s uncommon, not to mention abnormal, is to sweat excessively, worrying too much of others’ expectations and feeling the burden of the world pushing against you when the issue is relatively small. These are the situations faced by people who have anxiety disorders.
Anxiety disorders involve excessive fear which differs from normal feeling of nervousness or anxiousness. For instance, after the examination ended, the stress does not go away and perhaps it is always there for no reason, so this is a situation considered as anxiety. Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders.
I happened to know one person who had experienced this disorder but had requested to remain anonymous when I interviewed her recently.
She is a smart student changing her programme from Economics to Usuluddin because of her tremendous passion towards philosophy. She first started to feel the struggles within herself five years ago during her high school years. Whenever she felt stressful or unhappy, she would suffer a strong chest pain, but it faded after completing her high school examination (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia). However, it did not just stop there because things started to turn for the worst when her father passed away during her days in matriculation studies.
“His death hit me and it was at the peak of everything. I started to sweat excessively, I lost my focus in class to the extent that I did not manage to submit my assignments on time. My hands were shaking unstoppably and I felt an unbearable chest pain,” she said.
At that moment, I looked deeply into the ocean of her eyes. Those two pools of her eyes described vividly the pain that she felt after losing her pillar of support.
In the midst of her condition, somehow, she survived her two undergraduate semesters without officially being diagnosed with what she suffered from. However, after enduring it for a long time, she decided to go for a check-up for mental health. Unfortunate for her, she was diagnosed with a high level of anxiety – higher than normal. Thus, she had to be referred to the specialist at Kuala Lumpur General Hospital for further treatment.
She is still relying on her medication and needs to go for monthly appointment until today.
Asked why she needed to be in this condition, she said that she never looked at it in a negative way.
“I feel grateful with what I have experienced. Even though I sometimes feel demotivated, having this symptoms of Generalised Anxiety Disorder makes me think about others even more – how they should be treated, and I become more concerned about how they actually feel. Because sometimes people treated me badly,” she said, rather disappointed.
People who suffer from this disorder really need support from us, the normal human beings. But for her, she did not put any sort of expectations for people to totally understand what she goes through because she knows, no one is capable of doing it.
“I am hyper sensitive, I especially get easily offended by the way people treat me. But until today, I feel grateful for having such a great support system which I never imagine to get, from my family and circles of friends,” she said with a smile.
Everyone has his or her own battle to win. They have their own anxieties towards something that may lead to depression but they appear normal because they know how to handle the pressure.
In contrast, people who are suffering from the disorder like Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Panic Disorder, they do not really know how to handle the situation because they do not have the skills to do so.
As members of society, we all hold a vital role to help these people by guiding them to handle their sadness. People like them sometimes feel too sad and demotivated that they could not cope with their own life, thus they would easily decide to give up. For them to survive, they are really in need of support. They really need respect and understanding from us. As we are not in their shoes, we do not really know what they are going through.
For those people who are suffering from any mental disorder, they need not have to worry so much, or be ashamed for being what they are because the things that they face can be treated. Help yourself out by seeking help from the counsellor, never skip your appointment, and if you are on medication, do take it on time.
Hopefully you would be fine one day. Have faith and keep your chin up!***