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The Anxious Voice That Says My Illness Makes Me a Burden on My Friends

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Life is hard. Everyone has baggage and burdens they deal with every single day, and mine are no harder than the person sitting next to me in my phonetics class. To be someone else’s burden is even harder. Everyone around me will say I am not a burden, that my being ill doesn’t bother them one bit, but I always have a little voice of anxiety in my head telling me otherwise.

Don’t get me wrong, I hear my friends and family when they tell me my illnesses aren’t a burden, but my little anxiety monster loves to tell me they’re sick of hearing about me. I know this isn’t true, but this is what anxiety does. That’s what this article is really about — the anxiety that causes me to feel like a burden on others.

Anxiety eats away at your insides, gnawing at your most vulnerable spots. It’s thick black sludge that slithers its way into the crevices of your mind, tinting every thought. An off-hand comment might trigger a thought process that can send me swirling down into a choking black hole created in my own mind.

So, when I’m among my friends and they mention something they had talked about together earlier, I feel left out. I am completely confident they didn’t do it to make me feel left out — I was probably just sleeping, studying, in class or something of that sort. I know this, I tell myself this, but the anxious thoughts seep into my mind like an ebony fog of doubt, telling me my friends don’t like me anymore. More thoughts of self-doubt like not being good enough, my friends purposely leaving me out of plans and more ridiculousness saturate my mind as I continue to have a conversation with my friend. The thoughts never show on my face or in my voice, but I can feel them invading my body like poison and causing me to tap my foot or play with my hair.

Asking for help from a friend requires intricate planning in my brain of the best way to ask. I will spend hours thinking of just what to say and then I finally have to build up the courage to even ask. They normally say yes, and I constantly thank them throughout the trip or whatever it is we’re doing. I bombard them with “thank you”s and “I love you”s and “you’re the best”s because I can feel the anxiety tapping on my shoulder the entire time.

You can tell me all day that I do not cause any trouble when I am ill, when I have to ask for help or when I bother you with complaints, but I have a disorder that makes me feel ashamed inside. I know my friends and family love me and would never lie. I tell this to the anxiety sitting in the corner of my mind. I spend quiet time trying to convince the monster that what they’re saying is true — there is no doubt — but I can’t make it stop.

Instead, I let it have its word. Then I go upstairs to my best friend’s room and laugh until my stomach aches and my cheeks are on fire from smiling so long. I go for a drive with the windows down and blast music to sing to with my little, I write thank you and encouragement notes to my sisters, and I even write down every wonderful thing in my life. I shrink the anxiety monster with happiness and love because I won’t ever let it win.

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Originally published: October 21, 2016
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