Back in February, Sarah Fader, 37, the Brooklyn, New York-based founder of the mental health nonprofit Stigma Fighters, sent a tweet about the anxiety she feels while waiting for a text-message response, and she knew she couldn't be alone in experiencing this feeling.
Sarah, a mother of two who experienced her first anxiety-fueled panic attack at age 15, still struggles with it today and wanted people to understand her particular pain. She tacked on the hashtag, #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike, since "anxiety can feel debilitating to people who have it. I want people to understand this," she says. Next, she asked her followers to use the hashtag to share their own experiences with anxiety. Boy, did they respond:
Everything is too loud and bright and I'm too small to fight it but too big to hide from it #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike- Liz Lazzara (@LizLazzara) April 2, 2017
my brain: worry about it- kayden :): (@kaaydenn17) March 27, 2017
me: worry about what??
my brain: worry about everything for no reason at all#ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike
Spending 30 mins building the courage to make a 5 minute phone call. #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike- ParallelDichotomy (@paradichotomy) April 3, 2017
Always feeling like you are a bad friend although you did nothing wrong. #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike- Kaylee =^-^= (@5Selliana) March 18, 2017
Seriously debating if you shouldn't have liked a certain tweet, and how horrible you'll seem if you unlike it. #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike- Cimone Watson (@bachbunny) April 4, 2017
Since then, #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike has been used several hundred times, with people speaking out about their personal experiences with an ailment that so many suffer from in silence - even though anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental issue in the U.S.: They affect nearly 2 out of every 5 people, according to stats from the National Institute of Mental Health.
Still, Sarah says anxiety remains misunderstood. For instance, there's a difference between everyday stressors - like worrying for a hot second that it'll rain when you've forgotten your umbrella - and suffering from a chronic anxiety disorder, which can make it difficult to function, according to those who've shared their personal experiences on Twitter.
Sarah also wants people to know that you can't always control your anxiety naturally with methods like yoga and mediation, since some forms of anxiety can be traced to brain chemistry, and those who suffer from anxiety aren't "making it up" or "being dramatic" - so you should really lay off 'em.
Now that Sarah's campaign is making headlines, here's hoping those who've weighed in finally see that they're not alone.
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