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To the People Who Don't Understand My Anxiety

All I see are the walls falling in flames, of the car I’m driving crashing into a pole. I can see the eyes staring at me, judging every move I make while I try to breathe.

Possibilities flash somewhere behind my eyes, tugging for my attention as the world around me starts to fall apart. I feel my heart quicken, it skip a beat as the bomb falls towards the earth.

I want to scream, to warn those around me; but I am the only one who sees this. The only one who sees the food rotting before their eyes.

I walk through the aisles as “normal” as possible, trying to keep my head down and avert my gaze from the stories that walk past me; not wanting the plot lines of oppression to follow my every step. But no matter how much I try, they always lay out before me, wanting me to read every page — whether they are true or not.

I need to breathe, to shut the voices and images away, but no matter how many times I try, nothing seems to help. If anything, they only seem to get worse. My breath seems to elude me, tightening itself within my chest, and the only way I can seem to be “normal” again is if I distract myself.

The screen itself is only a temporary fix. The scrolling sensation a hypnotizing consistency that begs me to keep going. Soon I’ll find out how forgettable I am. That all of those who once stood by my side have moved on with their lives.

When I see that one post — the post that my best friend seems happier with someone else — I can feel myself shutting down. All of this time he told me he loved me, and yet he seemed so quick to push me aside.

Have I become that unbearable? Has life truly slapped me in the face and mocked me for all of these years? Do I truly not matter to anyone?

I scroll for more, my thirst to find the lie becomes my desperate plea. But all I see are those that love my friend, and I have become the burden I tried hard not to be. He doesn’t need me — not anymore.

I put down the phone and start to vow my silence; refusing to be even more of a bother than I already am. Everyone has a life to live — except for me. I have been abandoned and left behind.

Condemned to be the faded one.

But of course, when the screen lights up, I pounce; not wanting to be left alone. I know I will never be needed, that I am only a temporary piece to everyone’s puzzle. Soon, it won’t even matter if I am breathing or not, because no one will ever need me.

My anger starts to sizzle as I start to put myself down — yelling at myself for being a fool. Everything would be so much easier if I wasn’t in anyone’s lives. Everyone is unhappy about my talks of obsession.

Maybe I shouldn’t be alive anymore.

This is my anxiety. It is a heavy burden and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone — even my enemies. I don’t hyperventilate or rock back-and-forth. Rather, I sit in silence, working myself up to the point that I gag. I get tired and lose my energy as if a switch was flipped without me knowing it.

Society has forced me to doubt my own attacks — just because mine aren’t visible, I may not be having one after all. You don’t see the way I struggle, so when you approach me, I could seem closed off and cold, and I could snap without warning.

What you do not understand is that I am trying to find myself within the panic I feel inside.

When I get anxious, everything becomes hard. The mess I meant to clean up for days — or maybe months — still sits, waiting to be done. The work that waits for me waits for forever, before I can bring myself to face it.

Anxiety makes me isolate myself, makes me see things that aren’t really there, and that could be unbearable. I feel alone in a room full of people, knowing I am overwhelmed with the emotions that are in me.

So, if I am more quiet than usual, just know that it is not because of you. You may not see the war raging inside of me, but it’s all that I hear and feel. Please forgive me if I come off as rude. I am happy that I met you, I truly am.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

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Getty image via Grandfailure