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Why I Hid My Anxiety From Everyone, Even My Therapist

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Sometimes my brain hijacks me for a few days. I used to think I was losing it. Now I know it’s just anxiety.

When anxiety strikes, it’s like my worst fears are playing over and over again on a constant loop.

At some point, I will go “insane,” I say to myself. At some point, I will hit a place of no return. I repeat these words to myself over and over. But this doesn’t happen. Well, it hasn’t happened yet, at least. But I’ve always been scared that something terrible will happen to me or to those I love, and it can keep me in a perpetual loop of anxiety.

All the experts say we should talk more about our anxiety and that talking about it will help to break the stigma. But it’s not so easy to do when you think that if you tell others the details of the thoughts you experience during an anxiety or panic attack, you’ll be hospitalized for sure.

For years, I hid my anxiety from everyone, even my therapist. And I so wish I hadn’t. I wish I had told my therapist about these terrible thoughts sooner. I would have discovered I wasn’t alone and that there is a reason my thoughts get all weird and out there.

Apparently, anxiety is a natural reaction of the brain when one’s body is telling them to fight for life. The adrenaline rush — the fight or flight response — is frighteningly real.

Like I said, I come by it naturally. My dad also has anxiety. And, he only started getting treatment for it at the age of 72. Seventy — flippin — two!

When I told him about my anxiety, when it first hit at the age of nineteen, he was scared I was going “crazy.” Why? Because of his own anxiety. You see, he thought he was going “crazy,” too. And, my dad thought that seeing a therapist was a sign of weakness. So he kept his thoughts to himself, just like I did.

Turns out, Dad and I both had similar thoughts during our anxiety attacks:

I’m going to go “crazy.” What if God wants me to be a “crazy” person? What if I get on that plane and it kills me? What if my children die? What if I have a disease and die in my sleep? What if I hurt someone because I go “out of my mind”?

We both had these terrible, large, lonely thoughts simultaneously. And yet separately, we were quietly living in fear — fearing the next time anxiety would come to threaten our emotional world. This behavior kept us both in our anxiety. And all it did was hurt us. If I could, I’d dig a hole and bury all my anxious thoughts within it. I’d like to hide them safely where no one else can see. But I can’t do that. Too many people experience anxiety. And it doesn’t need to be that way. Today I know there is hope. There is help — if we have the courage to ask for it. And if we are brave and we ask for that help, we can recover.

Robyn Cruze is author of Making Peace with Your Plate, a popular speaker, and a National Recovery Advocate and online community manager for Eating Recovery Center. Eating Recovery Center (877-700-1925) provides specialized treatment for eating disorders and mental health issues.

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Thinkstock photo via iStock.

Originally published: June 6, 2017
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