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Why Anxiety Makes Me Perfectly Imperfect

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It’s the empty pit that lies between my stomach and chest. It’s the short, inconsistent breaths that keep me feeling as if I’m drowning on dry land. It’s the voices in my head repeating the same insults day in and day out. It’s the way I can’t look in a mirror without hiding the pieces of myself that I hate. It’s the crying that happens when no one is looking. It’s the incoherent screams for the pain to go away. It’s anxiety.

I look “normal.” I don’t show the “tell-tale” signs of someone who struggles with a mental illness. I don’t wear excessively baggy clothes or have unkempt hair. I smile more times a day than you can count. I am, based on my appearance, “normal.” Yet my head tells a different story. Some nights, I stay up recounting every bad decision I have ever made. Sometimes I cry until every emotion drains from my body. Sometimes my heart beats so fast that I have to convince myself I am not dying.

And yes, I know that all of my fears are irrational and that my biggest enemy is my mind. I know that I just have to be strong and “get over it.”  I know that the more I talk about it, the more I become it. I know everything someone needs to know about anxiety. But that doesn’t make the anxiety any less painful.

We live in a society where hiding your mental illness within the confines of your room is often more acceptable than speaking about it to anyone. There is this stigma around mental illness that can force people into this small box they can’t escape from. You’re feeling hopeless and alone? Deal with it by yourself, because you don’t want to bring anyone else down with you. Your anxiety is high today? Have you ever considered that maybe it is so high because you always think about it, just get over it.

Mental illness is often looked at as a flaw in human nature — but I don’t think it is. I think mental illness is human nature. It is human to have these imperfections; it’s probably even more human than not having any at all. The minute we decide to shut ourselves and other people up about the perfectly imperfectness of mental illness, is often the minute we decide to let our own ignorance take over our world.

So hear me out. One article isn’t going to change the world’s perspective on anxiety or mental illness, but that isn’t what this is asking for. This is asking others to let those struggling come out of our tiny little boxes. This is asking others to listen when those struggling need it. This is asking others to love those struggling as the perfectly imperfect humans that we all are.

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Getty image via DMEPhotography

Originally published: February 13, 2018
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