I was recently diagnosed with severe anxiety stemming from PTSD, evident in the fact that I started having panic attacks after silly things, like if I would flirt with a cute guy and he would seem interested as well. And then the panic attacks started getting steadily worse and worse, until on the Sunday before Christmas of last year, I had a severe anxiety attack that lasted about two hours, nonstop, followed by three or four consecutively over Christmas break. They usually take a couple days to completely recover from, and they've happened at every time of day, from in the middle of a casual dinner, to the middle of the night. I think I've even had a couple while I was sleeping. I've started to go to a psychologist since then, which is why I know solidly that what I'm dealing with IS severe anxiety, and here is a little bit about what I have learned:
1) I have been dealing with anxiety for a very long time, even though I didn't know it. I didn't realize that rapid heart palpitations, major overanalyzing and sweating at random times wasn't normal (that last one is kind of gross... but it explains my constantly sweaty hands... sorry :/)
2) Anxiety takes everything good inside you and turns it against you. I am someone who has naturally been blessed with healthy self-esteem. But with this anxiety, I might not hate my outside, but I hate my insides sometimes, and I have a really hard time accepting or believing that people accept me and love me regardless of my freakouts. And the frustrating thing is, I'm usually a pretty level-headed person when it comes to relationships, so when the anxiety kicks in and I start freaking out, I get pretty ticked off at my interactive inadequacies. I've started to learn that I'm a pretty needy person, and sometimes people can't give me the verbal assurance or clarity that I sometime emotionally need, but at the same time, it's not necessarily fair for me to ask certain people to take on my baggage, and just because they are a little overwhelmed by the fact that sometimes I randomly start shaking and crying and gasping for air (i get overwhelmed by it too), it doesn't mean that they love me any less.
3) Anxiety makes it hard to make friendship/romantic relationships. I tend to get a little too clingy or a little too standoffish in relationships, because I love it when people make me feel special and needed, but if I get rejected too many times, or I feel like the amount that I am needed is a fluctuating variable, I'll just automatically assume that you don't want me in your life, and I will quietly remove myself to avoid being hurt again.
4) Anxiety is not me. I am not someone who becomes afraid easily. Anxiety is a completely different species than fear or stress. I don't freak out because I work too hard. Anxiety is a paralyzing kind of thing, and when it takes over, the only thing that you can focus on is breathing and shaking, and trying to keep your nose above the waves of anxiety so it doesn't end you.
I'm not really sure what I was trying to accomplish here, but I think that maybe if I stay as open as I can through fighting this thing, maybe I can help someone else recognize it in themselves before they get to the point of panic attacks, or at least voice some of the pain that people with really excruciating anxiety are too suffocated to express.