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What I Really Want From Friends When I'm Feeling Anxious

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There are times in my life when my head connects one dot to the next dot, which is way over a billion of other dots, other scenarios — scenarios that seem to be more likely to happen than the one my head has already settled on.

I’ve argued and felt discouraged by speaking about my anxiety to key people in my life, such as people I’ve called “best friends” or plainly family.

I don’t expect these people to understand now. I don’t expect them to understand this in the future (or I hope they don’t ever have to struggle with this at all). I don’t expect them to understand why my head overthinks simple situations or things that have yet to happen. I don’t expect them to understand the internal debate I have sometimes on how to greet strangers before I come in direct contact with them, such as greeting a cashier while paying or asking for help and not seeming pathetic or awkward, which can sometimes leave me pondering or working myself up for minutes at a time. (It sometimes takes hours to call someone for a simple check-up on my violin.) I don’t expect them to understand how my head simply goes from A to Z in a matter of seconds, passing by each and every letter at the speed of light, plus adding other letters unknown to the English alphabet into the mix. I don’t expect them to understand how I panic or stress out to the point where I have a panic attack, where I feel consumed and suffocated by every little thing, where I’m crying and having trouble breathing.

I cannot just be “normal” or do what you may view as simple “normally.”

You may not be capable of understanding this, and I accept that. It’s time for you to also accept that you cannot understand, whether it’s my anxiety, stress or even my moments of grief from a loss of mine.

No human is perfect.

I am definitely not perfect.

I don’t have everything together, even though physically it might seem that way outside of closed doors.

And sometimes, I struggle to let myself know it’s OK and that my future is going to be OK.

It’s OK not to be OK.

I have to read self-help books in order to keep the peace in my head, to remember where I am in this life is OK — even if in hindsight it’s frustrating.

For example, I have to remember what Jamie Tworkowski wrote in his book “If You Feel Too Much” every time I feel like I’m working myself up to a panic attack:

“This life — it’s not a contest, not a race, not a performance, not a thing that you win. It’s [OK] to slow down. You are here for more than grades, more than a job, more than a promotion, more than keeping up, more than getting by. This life is not about status or opinion or appearance. You don’t have to fake it.”

What I do want from you — maybe — is to give me time and ease up on subjects involving the future — my future. I know it may worry you. It worries me impossibly, because I’ve probably already thought of it in every single way imaginable, because it is my life. This happens every day; it sneaks up on me every waking moment in the back of my head, only to attack me in the late hours of the night.

I don’t want to hear your judgment of why can’t I be “normal.” I just want support. I want to hear, “It’s OK. I’m here. I don’t understand, but I want you to know it’s going to be fine.”

It’s that simple. Nothing more, nothing less.

And maybe — just maybe — that’s really all I need. Just a simple resting place for this unknown answer of when or how, and instead just being OK. Knowing I’m not alone.

Image via Thinkstock.

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Originally published: November 12, 2016
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