Anxiety manifests itself in strange ways. Empathising with a person suffering from anxiety issues is one of the most difficult tasks on this planet. Let’s take a simple example of walking back home after college. Nothing challenging about it at all. It is part of our everyday routine and not even worth worrying our brains over it. I have tried to describe the same mundane activity from the perspective of a person dealing with anxiety issues:

As I return alone to my hostel after class, I can feel the bout of anxiety creeping in. It’s no use telling myself not to worry; the fear has already made itself at home. My pace quickens, my hands flay about, unable to continue their rhythmic motion. A group of friends pass by cracking jokes in a loud voice. For some reason, it makes even more anxious. I am now perspiring heavily. ‘Run! Start running or you will fall down’, my mind tells me. I walk as quickly as I can without actually running. On the way, I see some of my friends hanging around. The thought of facing them terrifies me to the extent that I am paralyzed with fear. Moving my legs forward requires a conscious effort. At that moment, my mind perceives them as threats with whom encounter will lead to disastrous consequences. In my panicky haste to take a different path, I end up bumping into someone. Stuttering a muffled apology, I propel myself forward.

Somehow, I reach my room. As soon as the door is closed, the tears come. I bowl my heart without even wondering about the reason. To tell the truth, there is no reason. When the entire tear stock has been used up, the swollen eyes find the knife next. As the blood oozes out from the numerous superficial cuts; a feeling of contentment washes through my entire body. I am transfixed by the red fluid. It feels like, with its every drop it carries my fears away. Even the thought of eliminating more fears with the flow of this mesmerizing fluid is ecstatic. Those fears have been in there so long, I can’t wait to be rid of them. At that moment all I desire is to make a cut so deep that all my fears are carried away with the fountain of blood. But fortunately or unfortunately, logical reasoning manages to find its feeble voice. “No, leave it for another day, “is all it can manage to get through the haze of pain and pleasure. Till date, I have managed to listen to it and stopped here. Not because I think it’s a sensible thing to do but because it is the ultimate pleasure. It is like the cherry on the cake that you save to eat at the end. Once I do it, all my fears and insecurities will be gone. I will no longer be able to enjoy driving them away one by one. Who knows for how long I will be able to resist the temptation.

Kayenat Khan

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