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20 Things I Wish People Understood About My Anxiety

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Why can’t you just relax?

Why do you always have to take things the wrong way?

Why do you let things bother you?

What’s the big deal?

I am not sure about you, but people toss those questions at me as if they were confetti. Almost as if they truly believe I can control what is going on in my body. Like I can just shut the switch off in any given situation, smile and be OK. I will be the first to tell you, sorry, but I cannot.

I struggle with anxiety, big time. A lot of it stems from my chronic illness. Many things that would never bother other people, bother me to a great extent. In reality, we all have anxiety at one point or another. We are humans, it happens. Sometimes however, my anxiety just will not shut off. For me, anxiety has kept me from doing things others can do in the blink of an eye. I cannot speak in public without breaking into a rash. I cannot go to the counter and order my own food, without breaking into a rash. I cannot drive on the highway without having an anxiety attack. I cannot take jokes about me without getting offended. I cannot express myself talking face to face without crying. I cannot talk on the phone without stuttering and stumbling. I try to stay away from social gatherings and invites so I do not have to run 10 million “what-if” thoughts through my mind.

Anxiety is a b*tch. That is the simplest way to put it.  It is one of the most familiar illnesses in the US, yet many just do not understand it. The best thing for someone with anxiety is to have a huge support system. The best support systems are often made up of our significant others, family and friends. However, sometimes, they are not there. Sometimes they just do not truly understand what it is going on with you. There are so many things I wish I could say to those in my life to help them better understand me. Obviously, I struggle with doing so.

Here are 20 things I wish others knew about my anxiety:

1. I never know when my anxiety will attack. I may go from laughing to yelling, all in the matter of a few seconds. When this happens, I need you to just wait it out.

2. I cannot just stop worrying. I do not worry just for fun.

3. I feel like a failure. When anxiety keeps me from doing the simplest task, I feel like I have let you down. So I tend to
avoid situations where I may feel even more like a failure.

4. I celebrate simple accomplishments. My small victories may seem silly to you, but to me, it feels like I just conquered the world.

5. Even if there is nothing terrible happening, I still find myself in a state of worry.

6. I am more than just this monster inside of me.

7. I don’t need you to fix me. I appreciate you trying, but I don’t need to be fixed. I just need love and support.

8. I’m not weak. I’m a work in progress. Every day I try my hardest to become stronger.

9. I am not antisocial and I am not blowing you off. Phone calls, voicemails and get togethers scare me. 

10. Try to be patient with me. I am trying. I am trying my hardest.

11. Sometimes I am quiet because I have a lot going on in my head. Stop asking me what is wrong and don’t assume I am mad, bored, tired or whatever else you may think.

12. I cannot just turn off my anxiety. I know you do not get it, but please try to understand.

13. Most times I do not even know why I am anxious.

14. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all those times I have lost my cool, said things I didn’t mean. I’m also sorry for all those times that are still yet to come.

15. My brain does not just shut off, and it is exhausting.

16. If I am not comfortable doing something, please do not force me to do it. Let it go.

17. I have trouble making decisions. I’m a perfectionist and I just want everything to be perfect.

18. Never stop inviting me to things. I may decline 99 percent of them, but it is nice to still feel loved and wanted. And one of those days my anxiety may be at a low and my answer may surprise you.

19. When I say I cannot handle something or take on more, please understand I truly cannot.

20. I hold onto and replay every single word, conversation and anxiety attack I had and will obsess about it for years. 

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Thinkstock photo via berdsigns.

Originally published: August 8, 2017
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