Saying you 'have anxiety' when you are simply nervous risks undermining those with actual anxiety disorder

It’s extremely normal to feel anxious and nervous sometimes. Ciara O’Loughlin talks about how you can use these feelings to better yourself and why we should be mindful about using the correct terminology.

The conversation around mental health has definitely gotten better, but there is still so much more that needs to be discussed. One of these being that the word 'anxiety' is overused in the wrong circumstances.

It's hard to get through an episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians without one of the sisters saying "I'm getting anxiety" or "I have anxiety" over something relatively small (organising a child's party, going to the dentist, having a difficult conversation with a friend).

Now, I don't know if this is why the term has slipped into many peoples everyday vernacular, but the word “anxiety’’ is being thrown around left, right and centre. Instead of saying “I feel anxious” or “I’m nervous” people are saying “I have anxiety”. The meaning of the word has been taken away, and people with an anxiety disorder are starting to feel betrayed. 


Feeling anxious sometimes is completely normal

Feeling anxious or nervous is completely normal. Everyone feels nervous for things like tests, dates or interviews. And in fact, it is actually a good thing, although it might not feel it at the time. These feelings push you to do things out of your comfort zone, usually leading to you feeling like you’ve accomplished something afterwards. I completely understand that some people get nervous more than others, but just remember that it is a normal feeling.

What makes us human is the vast amount of emotions we feel on a daily basis, and unfortunately, they are not all good. Often in life, we need to feel this anxiousness to make progress in life.

“If your dreams don’t scare you they’re not big enough”

As someone trying to pursue a job in journalism, I really had to accept that nerves and feeling anxious would be a part of the job. For me, it was anyway, and putting myself out there certainly wasn’t easy, but it was always worth it in the end. I always feel nervous when doing an interview; whether that be over the phone, in person or on live radio.I don’t think there will ever be a day where I am not at least a little bit nervous.

Even the best get nervous

Many people don’t admit to getting nervous, and I can assure you that even the people who look calm and collected all the time find themselves anxious in certain situations. Riannah and Adele are two huge stars who admit to feeling nervous every time they perform, despite their stardom and experience. In an interview with Rolling Stone Adele even said “I’m scared of audiences".


Anxiety disorder and feeling anxious are not the same

In all these situations it is completely normal to feel anxious. When this becomes more of an issue is when every-day tasks make someone feel extremely anxious. Anxiety disorder is extremely tough, and unfortunately, affects a lot of people. Having an anxiety disorder is being physically unable to carry out day to day tasks and activities due to feeling overwhelmed with anxious feelings and thoughts.

Like everything, everyone with an anxiety disorder experiences it differently and some more in a more severe way than others.

By discussing how it is normal to get anxious every now and again, and not throwing around the word ‘anxiety’, we kill two birds with one stone. We give support and recognition to those living with anxiety while also letting people know that it’s okay to be nervous sometimes.

So, cut yourself some slack, ride the waves of nervousness and lead yourself to your full potential.


Featured Image: Brooke Cagle via Unsplash


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