From the outside, as a person with anxiety, I, for the most part, always seem content in my ways. On paper, I have nothing to worry about. I always appear to be on top of things, surrounded by people who care about me, ready to take on the day with full force. There are other sides of me, however, that aren’t always visible to the naked eye.
It’s the crying to sleep at night, worrying over something that cannot be fixed.
It’s the panic of not getting a reply to a text message.
It’s the misery of misinterpreting one question on an exam.
It’s letting the small things that can go wrong take over the bigger picture.
It’s the constant fear of being called “needy” or “fake” if I ask for additional support.
It’s the constant paranoia of other people’s opinions of me.
It’s being told not to worry when my mind will not stop.
It’s being told not to care about what other people may think of me, while my mind is focused on the opposite.
It’s the difficulty I have in trusting anyone with my true self.
It’s the thought of someone bringing up a past event that I don’t want to think about.
It’s having to leave a college class to cry in the bathroom for not understanding one concept.
It’s an internal battle that goes on within my head.
What you don’t see is as much of a part of me as what you do see.
It’s not that I want to hide parts of who I am. It’s more that I don’t feel like bothering people with what I consider to be minuscule problems on the grand scheme of things. The problems I encounter may be significant in my life, but I feel uncomfortable having the attention thrown on me on the spot or for my friends to feel like they have to stop everything they’re doing to look after me. Sometimes, however, this is exactly what I need to help overcome any issues I may have, even if I am too afraid of judgment that may arise from other people.
I often feel when I do let people in to see both sides of me, they tend to leave me at my times of need. I either cannot open up properly or they look at me in dismay when I do and don’t know what to say to calm me down. Sometimes all I need is that shoulder to cry on. Other times I need to hide away and wait for my phone to go off for someone else to check in.
The times when I don’t speak up are probably the times I am most vulnerable. I feel at times I could vanish and no one would even notice. I know deep down this is not the case, but anxiety can sweep in and override any rational thought I may have and lead me into the darkest of moments. For the most part I am fine with myself, but it is very unpredictable as to when and if my anxiety will strike. It can be as simple as turning on a switch; it can go one of two ways and without force, it is impossible to reverse the effect it will have.
The little things that keep me going may be too small to even notice for most people, but they’re what help me get up in the morning. The smallest act of kindness can make the voice in my head change from, “Why do you even bother with all of this?” to “Hey there, this is what you’re here for. Keep going.”
The strength someone with anxiety has is unfathomable to those who don’t have it. We can seem like the most down-to-earth people around, though our condition can be extremely taxing on our psyche. Getting through a day without going into a state that makes you feel ill is an achievement in itself. Even though it may not seem like much, being able to get up every morning and get out the front door to do your day-to-day routine while your mind is fighting its own battle is something that shouldn’t be ignored. Be proud of the little things as well as the life events that will define your future. Every step is a step in the right direction.
Running away from my problems and investing my time into trying to help with someone else’s issues is something I used to tend to do instead of facing my own demons. I have learned this leads to disastrous consequences in the long run. Until I was left to deal with myself on my own after a particularly turbulent year, I wasn’t able to tune into my anxiety and face it with the courage and strength I needed for years. Once I faced it, it got a lot easier to manage. My anxiety is still here, but I have learned to embrace it in the most positive way I can. Accepting it as a part of my life is a lot easier than constantly having to pretend it doesn’t exist, even if it’s the last thing I want to admit.
Staying strong is hard, but the rewards are worth it. Embracing and becoming comfortable with each part of yourself is the the hardest part, but life is meant to be a climb. When you reach the top, the view is great.
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Thinkstock photo by Marjan_Apostolovic