Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders in the U.S, affecting 40 million Americans over the age of 18.
Anxiety can strike anyone at any time, and is caused by anything from life events to genetics. However, the illness disproportionately affects women, who are twice as likely as men to report having some form of anxiety disorder that affects their daily lives.
It's unclear why anxiety hits women harder than men, but Emma Gray, the Huffington Post's executive women's editor, has a few ideas:
My struggle with anxiety has almost always been tied to my femaleness. It's closely linked to negative feelings about my body and physical attractiveness, dating and the irrational fear that I'm going to end up childless and alone. It's responsible for my tendency to feel like an impostor when I accomplish something professionally. Body image, love life, impostor syndrome — all characteristically feminine sources of worry. And I doubt that I'm the only one whose "issues" stem (at least in part) from the often-stifling pressure to be perfect.
In other words, all the pressure women have to live up to in all facets of life — in the workplace, in their own bodies, in their own homes as mothers or child-free — is taking a serious toll on our health.
The worst part about facing anxiety is that the disorder is hard to "see." It's basically invisible, and can feed into the "crazy" woman trope.
"Anxiety is both a spider's web and a hangman's noose. Once you're in, it's practically impossible to break free. If you struggle, it gets worse. Then there is the feeling of being the prey to some unseen monster from under your bed. Like a fly in a web; the fly can feel its doom creeping closer. It's that feeling that leaves you looking over your shoulder.. It makes you stop and scan the area as if something was about to strike. It's that shiver of choking distress that sends the shakes to every inch of your body. Just like the hangman's knot resting behind your ear, you can't ignore it. Just because you're standing there - just because you're still standing, breathing, hoping, waiting... even though the rope isn't tight, you still cant ignore the gentle bump of the knot against your skin while you smile and pretend it's not there. With the noose comes helplessness. The spiders web follows. There you are... On the edge of destruction, and you can't free yourself. But it's near impossible to find help near.
Anxiety is like a hangman's noose and a spider web...
Both can be undone with help."
In response, Redditors confirmed that this is what anxiety feels like to them, too. And Valient was extremely grateful for the support.
"Seeing how well this was received has helped her so much. You're all wonderful people. Thank you guys so much for taking the time to read this. It really means a ton," he wrote. "I would encourage every one of you that struggles with anxiety to write out a note like this and explain your anxiety in a way that everyone else can understand."