by Anantinee Mishra
There have been myths of a mystical demon with a name unknown. It is said that the cacodemon does not possess any specific or distinguishing characteristics; instead takes the shape and size of what we dread the most in this world; be it a devilish person or a horrifying situation. Such is the mighty scare of the succubus; after all, when you do not know what shape it may come across you as, how will you slaughter its head?
Isn’t anxiety the same thing?
It can come to you as sweaty palms, or ragged labored breaths; or tunneling of vision and the dance of black spots of perception. Or maybe all three together; or none at all.
It can hit you as you climb up the stage for a speech; it can slide up to you as you sit down in the examination hall; it can whack into your chest like a hurricane when you hear or encounter somebody you don’t want to.
You can get a premonition, intuition that an attack is just going to hit you; or you can be taken completely unaware and suddenly-BOOM-its there.
The point being, that anxiety in itself is that demon, that devil, that fiend who is a shapeshifting monster. It can differ for everyone, and there is no person, especially today, who remains protected and elusive from the onslaught of apprehension and disquietude.
The presence of this nagging little voice of doubt in our minds is what is usually the trigger for these bouts of inconvenience. While the same can be quite infrequent in occurrence and just a moment of once in a while weakness for some, it can also be the exact opposite i.e., quite extreme in its regularity as well as the intensity of the discomfort. Something, in medical and psychological terms, can be called as an anxiety disorder.
What really is important right now, is the paving of the road of acceptance and affirmation. Yes, people with hefty anxiety disorders exist. And no, it is absolutely not a thing to be ashamed of or frowned upon.
There is an interesting debate, that it’s high time we start ‘normalising’ anxiety attacks or panic attacks. However, demeaning people who suffer from these disorders, or degrading the intensity of the situation with off-hand remarks of how its very normal to experience these things, under the pretense of synthesizing these things is by far even more hurtful and insulting.
Such normalisation also shows a reluctance to accept. Because anxiety disorders are not merely ‘shyness’ or ‘introvertedness’. They are painful, difficult, and constant. Like the blade of a guillotine coming down at you, centimeter by centimeter. It can also lead people to hesitate in seeking help.
Normalisation threatens to undo all de-stigmatisation that has been accomplished. It’s necessary that people understand the difference between anxiety and anxiety disorders. The former is a part of life, the latter is a crippling disorder. A conscious effort needs to be made also to reduce the careless use of psychological terminology.
While it’s important that we extend our support and encouragement to people who suffer from this every day and make them feel comfortable in their own skin. That is important. However, if that is used as an excuse to downplay one’s problems as an overreaction, then it is us who need to change, before asking others to.
About the Author:
Anantinee ‘JHUMPA’ Mishra is a prodigy author, poet and TED speaker. She is twelve years old studying in std.8th at Apeejay School, Saket, New Delhi. She has published two books and many stories and articles in magazines and journals. At the age of ten, she published a 21,000 worded anthology of stories called ‘Treasure of Short Stories’. Last year her debut Novel ‘Manhattan to Munnar’ got released. Recently she has been conferred with a title ‘PRODIGY AUTHOR’ and an ‘HONORARY DIPLOMA’ by the Hon’ble Vice President of India Sh. M Venkaiah Naidu.