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In the Mind of a Person With Anxiety on a Friday Night

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It’s Friday night, and I am having the same battle I have every night. I am so mentally exhausted that I want to crawl under a rock and sleep for a week. A month even. But my brain won’t switch off. I watch the television mindlessly, trying to ignore the noise in my head.

As with every night, I am fighting a losing battle. I start worrying about every conversation I have had that day. Did I offend anyone? Did I handle that situation correctly? Was that person really annoyed with me or is my imagination going into overdrive again?

I start worrying about my beautiful children. I worry I am not doing the best I possibly can to cater for their additional needs. Can we fit a fourth therapy session in this fortnight? Where will I find the money to pay for it? What’s going to happen if my child continues to lose weight and becomes a skeletal version of his gorgeous, cheeky self? How many extra appointments will that require per week?

I stress about things that happened weeks ago. Months ago. Years ago even. I feel myself start to shake. My head goes fuzzy, and I start to sweat. My chest hurts. I can’t breathe. I try taking deep breathes. I try to keep busy. I try telling myself I am being ridiculous. Nothing dulls the pain. I reach for my medication to stop the panic attack in its tracks. I worry about what my friends would think, what my family and colleagues would think, if would think I’m “weak” for relying on medication to stop the noise in my head from taking over my life.

Only then can I start to breathe. The clamor in my head gradually subsides until I can think clearly and logically. I lecture myself for being so irrational, but I know this won’t stop the same thing from happening time and time again.

I have anxiety. I have an illness so widely stigmatized that I feel like I cannot talk to anyone about it. On the outside I am a doting mother. On the outside I am someone who strives to do their best at her job. On the outside I appear happy, confident and successful.

On the inside I am drowning.

Mental illness is real. It is as debilitating as any physical illness can be. People with a mental illness can’t just “snap out if it,” just like a person with asthma can’t just magically open her airways. As a person who has suffered with anxiety for many, many years I am begging…

Break the stigma. Let people who suffer in silence know it’s OK to speak up. We need to be able to speak up without fear of judgment, unfounded opinions or isolation.

Sometimes all we need is a non-judgmental, listening ear.

I know I personally just don’t want to feel alone. The war in my head is a lonely place to be on a Friday night.

Originally published: March 11, 2016
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