The Text My Friend Sent Me When I Started Opening Up About My Anxiety
When I think about my anxiety, I always refer to it as a fight, because that’s what it feels like. On a daily basis, I am fighting to not let my anxiety determine the course of my day. Some days I win, and some days I stay in bed wrapped in a blanket watching Netflix and not talking to a single person. And for the longest time, I was fighting alone by keeping my anxiety, my panic attacks and my self-doubt a secret from the world. What I didn’t understand until recently, however, was that I was more afraid to tell the world what I was dealing with than I was to continue fighting alone. I was scared of judgment and criticism. Scared of people’s opinions of me changing and being seen in a different light. I was scared of admitting I was fractured and I needed help.
But I did it. I wrote an article for The Mighty that got published, and I shared with the world a side of me that, up until that point, very few people really knew. I felt utterly vulnerable, but one of my best friends told me something I think every single person needs to hear:
“It should not change anything. I think people knowing is more beneficial to know that hey, some things are invisible. If it makes people view you negatively, well I’m not sure if they are worth it because it’s always been a part of you and now it’s just public. You are still you. And we still love you.”
I probably read that text a hundred times before falling asleep that night, and even more the next morning. I read that message until it was engraved in my brain because she was so right.
For the most part, your fight with anxiety, depression, self-doubt or whatever it is you are fighting is invisible. People may not ever see it unless you choose to let them. And sometimes, letting people see your fight seems scarier than the fight itself. But just because it is scary does not mean you shouldn’t tell people. Let them know what you are dealing with. Ask for help when you need it. Do not continue to fight alone, because you are not alone. There are so many people out there who want to help you conquer every single one of your demons, all you have to do is let them in.
Maybe some people will view you differently. Maybe you will lose some friends or some relationships will change in a negative way. That’s their loss. Because my friend was right, this fight has always been a part of you. You have not changed, you have not altered yourself in any way. If anything, you have shown the world just how strong you truly are. You have shown them that you were fighting, and winning, a battle without them ever even knowing you were struggling. You are stronger than anyone could have ever imagined, but you are still you. And you are still loved.
Admitting you are struggling, admitting you are fractured, admitting you are tired and that you need help does not make you weak. I was scared to tell the world what I was dealing with, but after I did it, I don’t think I ever felt stronger. I felt surrounded by love, support and encouragement. Maybe you aren’t ready to tell the world, and that’s OK too. Maybe all you can do today is tell one person. Or maybe all you can do today is continue to fight alone, but you’re still fighting and that is still a win in my book. But whatever you do, don’t let fear keep you from seeking help. Just because you have made it this far fighting alone, does not mean you have to fight alone forever.
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