Do I Have an anxiety disorder?

Woman clutching her chest on the floor

I hate feeling anxious but do I really have a problem with anxiety?

POV: You’re me sitting in my book nook, enjoying the sun, when suddenly your chest feels a little heavy and your breathing starts to feel short. So, you take long breaths and put a hand over your heart – ok, it’s still beating fine. Your legs feel a little weak, so you walk around the room to make sure they’re not giving up on you yet. It goes on for a couple of hours. Funny thing is, you have no idea why you felt that way. Nothing is really bothering you but your brain decided that you should worry about… something. 

I first felt that odd and terrifying sensation when I was in high school. I know now that it was a panic attack or wait, maybe it was an anxiety attack? I’ve always felt weird about telling people what it was. Not because the thought of having anxiety embarrasses me (we all feel anxious more often than we think we do) but I tend to feel that since I’ve never been clinically diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, it’s unfair for me to say that I’ve gone through those attacks. Especially when it comes to sharing those moments with friends who have had therapists tell them that they do have anxiety disorders.

It’s hard to exactly pinpoint whether you have anxiety that’s problematic, at least that’s how I feel. It’s not like a big scratch that you can put a band-aid over or a sore throat that you can get rid of with warm tea and honey. Sometimes the thought of finding an empty seat at a busy café scares me but other times, I can burst through that very same café door and chat with the waiter like we’re old pals. It’s confusing and makes me wonder if I really have a problem with anxiety?

I know it comes in many levels. My college psychology teacher once told the class that it’s not a disorder unless it prevents you from doing things. My ‘anxiety’ has never stopped me from doing anything major, certainly not when it comes to the things that I want. I was nervous and anxious about applying for this blogger position and going to law school but hey, I did it anyway and here I am doing what I love! Or that one time I was so anxious about my mooting assignment that my nails were bitten down so bad and my legs couldn’t stop bouncing but I went through with it and ended up scoring a good grade anyway. It has never stripped me of any big opportunities that come my way, no matter how scary my brain made it out to be.  

So, I continue to wonder if I have an anxiety disorder. Come to think of it, 8/10 times, those anxious moments have actually pushed me to outperform my own expectations. Had my brain not told me that I wouldl fail and be the laughingstock of law school if I didn’t practice my mooting script, I probably wouldn’t have done better than I expected myself to. I guess my deal with anxiety is not to the degree of it being a clinical diagnosis then, but it’s definitely a funny (and horrible) feeling that continues to lurk in my shadows. One that I wish I would never have to feel, even if it drives me to try my best in the things I do.


If you are worried about anxiety, remember, the Counselling Service are there to help or check out the resources on the Wellbeing Hub.

Tagged in What messes with your head, anxiety, mental health