Imagine sitting on a train when suddenly, you feel it crashing. This is real. This is happening. Only it is not. It is happening to you, thus it is your reality. In no way, shape, or form is it unreal, fake, or made up. You look next to you in pain. You see that the train has not crashed for the person sitting beside you. Her train is riding smoothly along the tracks. You grab her arm and ask her for help. She sees you bleeding but does not see the wound. She tries to help, but it comes in the form of useless gestures. She’s unintentionally only made matters worse by drawing attention to the wound.
On the other side of you towards the front of the train, a young boy grasps a teddy bear, which looks to be loved to pieces. The boy’s eyes dart from tree to tree, cloud to cloud as the train whips by each object. His thoughts swirl so obviously and mix in his brownish-green eyes. He worries life will pass him by. He worries he will be forgotten just as he forgets each and every tree. He worries he is only a pine needle on a twig on a stick on a branch on a tree. After being in therapy for years and being told that worrying is senseless, he knows he should not worry. But knowing not to worry does not make it any easier not to worry. He hides his worries well. Others on the train do not seem to notice his worries. But you do. Perhaps it is a bond between worriers.
The lady on your other side, trying desperately assist you, goes to get more help. You know she means well, but help will only draw attention to the problem. Help comes, and to no surprise, doesn’t help. They stop the train at the nearest station, and you and the boy exchange horrified looks. The only thing worse than being mentally pained is people knowing you are mentally pained. Quickly you try to erase all evidence of any mental instability. But trying to hide the problem only causes an even bigger problem, thus drawing more attention to your situation. You are carried off the train on a gurney. All of your senses are heightened. Everything is bigger, brighter, and more real — even the unreal.
This is anxiety. This is how it feels to be worried about things relentlessly for no reason. This is how it feels to have a reality where even when there is no danger, you see every possible dangerous outcome. Your train crashes. Your plane plummets. Your life stops. Everyone is built with anxiety. Everyone is built to worry about some things. But anxiety disorders can be debilitating.
I think one of the hardest things about having a mental condition (severe or not) is explaining it to others so they know you work differently than they probably do. You aren’t defected. You aren’t superior. You work just as efficiently as anyone else. Also, after explaining your condition(s), people tend to treat you with delicacy like they would a porcelain doll. Feeling only more different, your anxiety spirals until it finally gets to the point where you keep all of your feelings inside to stop the poking and prodding.
Finally you wake up in the hospital. You are familiar with this scene. It appears after every few train crashes. Within a few hours you are being wheeled out to your car in a wheelchair. You don’t own a car, so they wheel you to the train station and board you on a train. This time you try to hide your crash.
Follow this journey on KatherynGreenberg.wordpress.com.
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