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What Not To Say To Someone With Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Wellness

I've personally struggled with anxiety for most of my adult life.

I've also suffered from bouts of depression.


I first noticed it during my senior year of college. I was anxious about everything from my classes, the retail job I hated, my apparent inability to maintain healthy relationships, and anything else you could think of. While all of that was racking my brain, just the thought of taking the next steps into adulthood would leave me clutching my knees in defeat on my apartment floor. I never really talked about it with anyone back then. I just concluded I was a sorry excuse for an adult and I dropped out during the second trimester of my senior year thinking this would alleviate some of my mental anguish.

I was wrong. It only added to list I had created about how I was failing at life and my anxiety was at an all-time high. I say all this to say that you never truly know the severity of what people are going through, especially as it relates to mental health. Anyone who has struggled with mental health issues, be it short-lived or a lasting condition, has probably had someone express doubt or indifference to their condition. Below are just a few of the unfair generalizations people with mental health issues experience.

"You're Being Dramatic"

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I had a friend in high school who used to have anxiety attacks. I always thought she was a little on the dramatic side, so I figured this was just a part of the package. I'd eventually realize how judgmental I was being. Fast forward to my 20's, life was happening, and not how I planned. Eventually, my circumstances overwhelmed me and I had my first anxiety attack.

It started out as a normal day. I was standing at the sink washing dishes, quietly fighting with my ruminating thoughts. From time to time, I'd glance at my two little ones playing in the hall. They had such a pure, happy and worry-free existence. I felt unworthy to be in their presence. "I'm such a sh**ty mom," I said to myself. In an effort to calm myself, I attempted to take a deep breath.

Nothing.

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I tried to take another breath. Nothing. It was like I had a cap on how much oxygen my lungs could take in. I started getting dizzy. I rushed past my toddlers, oblivious to my condition, grabbing at my legs for hugs. I clambered to sit down on my living room couch. Tears began to stream as I hurried to call my mom. In a defeated breath, I struggled to explain what was happening. My parents quickly arrived and my dad whisked me to the ER while my mom stayed home with my little ones.

It was terrifying. I felt like I couldn't breathe, and every time I fought to take a breath, I felt like I was draining what little energy I had left. I was super lightheaded and I just felt (as dramatic as it sounds) this sense of doom. After a trip to the ER, I was given a clean slate of physical health. After another visit to the same ER for the same symptoms, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and was told to follow up with my regular doctor and a therapist/counselor.

Although I didn't do it right away, I noticed the benefits of talking to someone immediately.

"Pray It Away"

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I can't remember the last time I set foot in a church, but my relationship with God has done nothing less than thrive. I won't say it has been a perfect road but it has made me seek my own relationship with God on my terms. I understand wanting to congregate with like-minded souls. That's beautiful. But the hypocrisy and judgemental air that exists in a lot of congregations makes me less than enthused to wake up early Sunday morning, drape myself in my Sunday's best and head on to church. I realized I could find solace in singing my favorite spiritual songs, reading from my devotionals and having a one-on-one time with God.

This has made me view myself as more spiritual than religious. I will say I am a believer in the power of pray. I understand that a talk with God can do wonders. But I also believe that some people want another human being to talk to. Someone that walks this earth and sees and experiences the surroundings like they do. I believe that God places people in our lives for a reason.

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Some people are blessed with an exceptional ability to understand, sympathize, and help us find solutions to our mental, emotional, and physical struggles.

I've been in a place before where the thoughts are so loud that you need to see, hear and feel someone physically. Whether it be a hug while you cry. An empathetic ear to listen to your troubles. A human gaze to see your pain. Rather than saying, "God will fix it, they'll be fine," ask God how you can help someone. Take the time to let someone know you are there should they need you.

"It Will Pass"

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True. To an extent.

An event or moment will pass because technically you can't live in a moment forever. Moments end. Some of those endings feel like a defeat. Some of those endings are traumatizing. Some of those endings bring about lingering negative side effects that need to be addressed and worked out. This takes time.

While some people can do this without assistance, others may need to seek help. There is absolutely no shame in that.

I expressed all that to say this: don't judge. You never know what someone is dealing with. You never know what someone has been through. Brave faces can hide a tortured mind. If you are struggling with mental health issues, please take the time to talk to someone. Whether it be a trusted close friend, family member, a doctor, therapist, or counselor. Show up for yourself and your mental well-being.

Your life is too precious.

If you are someone you know is suicidal please reach out to someone you trust or The National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. They also have a chat-room you can use to speak with someone.

Featured image by Shutterstock

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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