1. The pain is not just mental it’s physical too.
Think about the way you feel after running to catch the bus then missing it; or running to your car to avoid a parking ticket but when you arrive the police officer places it on your car anyway. Tired, out of breath and physically overwhelmed. That is how I feel without any apparent danger or trigger. My chest feels tight and finding a consistent breathing pattern becomes nearly impossible. Always being in fight or flight mode is physically exhausting and draining.
2. I really want to answer you when you ask what’s wrong but sometimes I do not know how to answer your questions.
Here is why: A: There is nothing in particular that is wrong. Sometimes, it is a combination of all the things that has happened in the past or the possibility of what may happen in the future and I find it difficult to put it into words.
B: I am aware that anything I say might cause you to think I am over-reacting, which will lead to more anxiety.
C: I don’t want to kill the good vibes so I tend to internalize the feelings.
3. Most of the time I am trying to figure out what is going on with me too.
Anxiety can be difficult to understand for everyone; therefore, I’m also learning more about it every day. Sometimes it is just inexpressible.
4. I am intellectually capable of understanding the idea of being present, but sometimes my thoughts creep in and pull me into a black hole.
I read Eckhart Tolle and meditate too but while these technics do work, sometimes it takes me more time than the average person to recover and become present again.
5. I do not always want you to give me answers, sometimes I just want you to just hug me and say it’s okay.
Well, this can be awkward depending on the relationship we have, but a hug is said to be the best cure of all. However, if hugging doesn’t work, simply reassure me in your best way as possible that everything will be okay. Lecturing me about the alchemist, focusing on the journey and getting back up is cool, but sometimes I already have the answers to all of my questions. Just listening to me will do (your ears will never get you in trouble). If you’re not in the mood for none of the above then maybe we can just sit there and do nothing while you run your fingers through my hair….Thank you for that in advance.
6. I am aware of how reactive, irrational and aggressive I may be.
Most of the time it is out of character for me, but when dealing with an anxiety episode, everything is too much. Even, for example, the cashier placing my change on the counter is annoying but during an anxiety attack, it is extra annoying. Not to mention, being aware of how anxiety forces me to act towards my love ones, causes me to internalize my emotions, accept things that would otherwise be unacceptable and intolerable to anyone. Deciphering between socially acceptable and unacceptable reactions can either cause an aggressive response or an internal breakdown. It is not my fault, I’m sorry.
7. Stop saying everyone has anxiety.
Feeling anxious before a speech or performance is not the same as having an anxiety disorder. I’ll explain: Anxiety is defined as a sense of apprehension that puts you on alert. The idea is that your body becomes prepared for potential threats, which is normal. However, when dealing with an anxiety disorder, your body is always in fight or flight mode for no apparent reason. It is a mental disorder sometimes caused by chemical imbalances. While stress and typical anxiety may occur due to an external source (like an exam or speech), anxiety tends to be a more internal response. The difference worth noting is that with an anxiety disorder, anxiety can persist for months at a time without any apparent reason. Our bodies will release epinephrine (increasing the bodies heart rate and blood pressure) then our sympathetic nervous system kicks in causing all of the symptoms such as panic attacks. The feeling sucks.
8. Don’t use my anxiety disorder as an excuse to place blame on me.
Just maybe sometimes it’s you.
9. Anxiety is really difficult to talk about.
With such a huge stigma on mental disorders, speaking about my experience can be a challenge. Especially when it comes to dating. It’s awkward. But if I trust you enough to open up, please listen.
10. I know I’m not perfect, but I’m perfectly normal.
No one is truly perfect but imperfection is beautiful and we all are beautiful. Despite how others may perceive any mental illness on the spectrum, I’ve come to terms that it does not define who I am so I will continue to stretch my boundaries in the face of resistance. I will continue to find ways to cope with anxiety and eventually one day, even escape it!
11. Words are powerless to express the gratitude I have for you all but thanks a million.
You’ve see me at my best and worst but nonetheless, you stick around anyway. By choice. Despite the awkward moments, random tears and impulsive decisions. The world needs more heroes like you!