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To My Boyfriend: Here's What You Should Know About My Anxiety

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I’m tired,

Yet I sleep.

I smile,

Yet I weep.

Can anyone explain to me how such two strongly conflicting emotions come to pass so eagerly? How your chest can feel so hollow, yet it fills with a source of life? How you can be so eager to rise in the morning, but only so that you may sleep the next night? Can anyone explain to me how this comes to be? How do I feel so surrounded and whole, yet crave your attention because I need to feel something other than alone?

My heart still beats.

My lungs still breathe.

My eyes still see,

But somehow, I’m can’t see.

I want to start by saying I’m sorry. I’m sorry for a lot of things. I’m sorry for the fact that I find myself consistently analyzing the cadence of your sentence. I’m sorry that sometimes I think your feelings have changed because we’re not doing something as simple holding hands while walking down the street. I’m sorry I fear someone will soon fill my place in your life and you’ll no longer want me.

I’m sorry for the sleep you lose consoling me. It was never my intention for you to worry about my well-being. I’m fine, I promise. At least, I will be in a few minutes, hours or days.

In those times, in my bad days, please bear with me. Part of the anxiety of having anxiety is that one day you’ll have enough of it and leave. I frequently fear I’ve done something or said something that has upset you and will be the last straw for you. You’ll be gone. I am absolutely aware of how ridiculous this sounds. You’ve chosen me and all that comes with me for a reason.

Like you said, “I love you. That’s all that matters.” You’re right. It is. I wish that were enough for my anxiety, and I wish I could understand it to the same degree you mean it. More days than not, my anxiety doesn’t allow for that.

I’m sorry it’s not easy to be with me. I know it wasn’t like this in the beginning of our time together, back before I was comfortable enough to show you what really goes on in my head. Sometimes, I regret opening up the trenches of my thoughts, but I know you need to see them. Should we spend the rest of our lives together, I need to know if you can handle me. I need to know if you can manage the tangled mess of thoughts, doubts and fears that constantly plague every decision that I make. I am so lucky that so far, you have.

Now, I want you to look back at the first lines of the last four paragraphs. Two out of four are me apologizing to you about something I can’t control. That is my anxiety. I’m having one of my bad days as I write this, and there are a few things I ask of you on days like this.

Please, be patient with me. There are days when I will need you more than anything, and there are days when I don’t want to leave my bed. On the days when I need you (which will probably outweigh the time I need alone), please be my sounding board if I want to spill out every emotion and thought that tortures my being. Be my silent support when I don’t want to talk about it. Hold me as tightly as you can if I break down.

This is a burden, a heavy cross to carry, and I will break into 10,000 different pieces. Don’t pick them up. I want to do that part myself. Just hold me and tell me I’m OK, that everything is OK and that you still love me. Most importantly, tell me you still love me.

On days where I just want to be alone, please still check up on me. It doesn’t mean I want to be shut off from the world. It just means I don’t want to visit it today. Especially on days like this, I need to know you’re still there for me.

As I continue writing this, I hate it. It makes me sound clingy and needy, and I hate that. That is my anxiety. I am strong, independent and have functioned with anxiety before you. But having you makes it easier. It lightens the punch to the chest I feel every time an anxiety attack comes on.

You are the support I was too scared to ask for before. Please, know when I ask for it, I need it more than I can put into words. I won’t ask for you unless I am genuinely terrified I can’t handle this by myself anymore. This is my anxiety.

Originally published: August 2, 2016
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