The news that Zayn Malik pulled out of a recent gig due to anxiety arrived at an appropriate time for me — over the weekend, my anxiety had taken a sideswipe at me. I managed to go to an open day held by a writing group I would like to join, a prospect which would have been beyond my consideration a few months ago, since it involved walking into a room full of strangers and talking to them. I was pleased with how it went; despite feeling too nervous to approach people, I talked to those who approached me and enjoyed myself. A couple of hours later, my anxiety prevented me from doing something which should have been relatively easy.
I had arranged to meet a friend for her birthday drinks in a pub I have frequented since I was 16. Sure, it was bound to be busy (there was football on, don’t you know), but I was familiar with the place and knew at least a few of the people who would be attending. Then, as I was reading and waiting for the time of my friends’ arrival, everything got on top of me and I freaked out.
I was overwhelmed by anxiety. I wanted to go home, to run away, to get out of there. I tried to calm myself down, but it didn’t work. I was drowning in a sea of fear and dread.
I did all I could do in that situation — phoned my dad and asked him to come and get me ASAP, then waited and tried to hold it together enough to disguise the fact that I was crying. I think I did quite well, especially considering I wanted to sob very loudly.
When I got home, I felt better anxiety-wise. I was safe. However, when anxiety prevents you from participating in an activity, especially one as important to you as celebrating a friend’s birthday, it is followed by the gamut of associated negative emotions: guilt, frustration, anger, sadness, loneliness…
Given this, it shows how ridiculous are the opinions of people who criticise Zayn Malik and others who suffer from anxiety. No matter what these ignorant idiots say, you can bet that the person suffering with anxiety has told themselves the same — and worse. You can bet that we are kicking ourselves for “letting” anxiety get the better of us. You can bet that we are astounded by the sheer illogicality of anxiety preventing us from doing something similar to what we have done many times before.
Yet anxiety is illogical. I have observed this many times throughout my life, yet the senselessness of this fact still confounds me.
Whether anxiety stops you from meeting your friends, performing onstage or leaving the house, it feels the same. There is still the overwhelming fear — it might be fear of looking stupid, fear of getting hurt or simply an unidentifiable fear.
Because of the vague nature of anxiety, it is difficult to explain to those who have never experienced anxiety. How can I explain that I’m afraid to enter a shop alone when I don’t know what precisely I am afraid of? How can I explain that I fear something worse than anything that can be pinpointed, even death?
I’m glad that Zayn Malik was courageous enough to be honest about his anxiety, because we need to talk about it a lot more. I haven’t read any of the comments about Zayn Malik on social media, but from what I have heard about some of these comments, there are a lot of people who need to be educated about anxiety and its effects.
Anxiety isn’t something sufferers use as a convenient excuse not to do something — it’s a debilitating condition which often prevents us from doing things we want to do. Regardless of whether or not we have done those things in the past.