As a secretary, I did my job, added added another person’s job, computerized the office (this was in the 80s), had congenial relationships with the 112 students I oversaw, and was responsible for a bunch of organizational tasks. I was the Energizer bunny. But I was so anxious that about twice a week I left my desk to gasp for breath, doubled over in the hall, shaking, nauseous, with stars spinning in my eyes. My whole life was about getting up in the morning, throwing up, getting myself to work, surviving deep anxiety, then going home and having a cappuccino. I went to see psychology people; they advised me not to be anxious because everything was going fine.
I guess you could compare worry to thinking about bungee jumping, and anxiety to the feeling after you step off the bridge.
I proved that I could work under these circumstances, decade after decade. But I can’t teach like I just stepped off a bridge. Jump off a bridge, then see a group of smart graduate students, and try to lecture and answer questions from left field. Other mental issues rush in to help, and suddenly you’re looking through the wrong end of a telescope, and fog is pouring in from the back wall.
Now I’m considered treatment resistant. They have tried all the medications in all the combinations they can think of, and nothing works. So Paxil no longer works, or Ativan or Latuda or Wellbutrin or Cymbalta or Effexor or Abilify or anything that used to work. I just have to deal with it.
When someone asks ‘what are you anxious about?’ they miss the whole concept of anxiety. Forcing someone to admit that their anxiety is ridiculous, unnecessary, illogical or what have you does not relieve anxiety.