Why I'm Not Disguising My Anxiety Anymore
Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.
I’ve always been an introvert. I sit in the shadows while others dance around me in the light. I’m the moon who has to wait until night comes in order to shine. My whole life I’ve been fearful, lacking confidence and brittle at the best of times.
This was before I was diagnosed with anxiety.
My anxiety took who I was and twisted it into something that issued cruel, binding, unpredictable, emotional and physical punishments. Yet somehow, I subconsciously inflicted my own pain.
I was comfortable as I sat in the classroom, silently, without a trace. Until I could no longer bear sitting there any longer than a dozen breaths in and a dozen breaths out. I’d be trying to breathe, but I felt suffocated from somehow forgetting to breathe. My body was my enemy. My brain was my enemy. The panic attacks came slowly, then all at once.
Encompassed by pain, tears and worry, I was desperately hoping for an end to it. I felt broken. I felt trapped, like there was a lock on my health and each day it would get tighter or looser. I felt like I had no control. I would flee from uncomfortable situations, which only distanced myself more from those around me. They wanted to help. I couldn’t handle the thought of the emotional scars I’d enveloped myself with, being disclosed. I would burst into tears impulsively, due to feelings of a lack of safety, security and comfort. I was tainted at my happiest and at my lowest. I didn’t trust myself. I never knew when an attack would come and I lived in fear of my own fear.
Anxiety can isolate you, making you feel like you are in a cage and everyone else is looking in, watching you slowly deteriorate, as your thoughts corrupt you. Deep beneath the surface, you are battling with yourself, with no explanation.
I immersed myself in the happiness of others, but not my own. I appeared OK but I was not OK. Would anyone know how much my anxiety corrupted me, if they saw nothing but a fake smile? Countless thoughts of worry encompassed me. They’ll never understand. They’ll never believe you. They’re going to leave you. My vulnerable, “I’m fine,” was really a cry for help. It took time, but I eventually realized everyone deserves to get the help they need. I am not my mental illness.
Communication is the biggest help. Distance is the worst.
I bore my wounds. I was exposed. The weight of my illness no longer fell on just my shoulders. I didn’t need to run away and hide, fighting my attacks by myself, because someone was always there. They knew my anxiety was not a personal attack on them.
No one should have to fight this alone. Holding onto the positivity in your life can bring so much happiness, while erasing the negativity can bring you closure. You may not always have answers and that’s OK.
Positivity, patience and praises became the instruments of my recovery.
I still experience anxiety and I still have occasional panic attacks, but I am doing OK. The suffering has diminished. It is bearable. I was picked up, supported and brought on a journey. A journey of health, happiness and comfort. A journey I never got from being alone.
I accepted my mental illness when I could no longer hide. And I became strong.
I don’t need to disguise my pain anymore.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.
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Thinkstock photo via Kilav.