To those I love who have not experienced the debilitating feeling of anxiety every day and all day, I need you to know a few things about my generalized anxiety disorder. These things will hopefully help you better understand how I’m feeling on a day-to-day basis and show you how to interact with me in a respectful, kind way, as I will with you. Although my disorder is invisible, it doesn’t mean it’s not there. I am not my disorder; I am me.
1. If I reach out to you and share how my anxiety has made me feel lately, just know it took courage and trust to do this. I am probably freaking out about how you may (or may not) respond to it.
2. If I tell you I don’t feel like talking, don’t take it personally. I just have too much on my mind and not enough energy to form logical thoughts, or words in general. My mind wears me out.
3. At times, I may say things to you I don’t mean. Sometimes my personal stress gets the best of me and I may project it onto you if I bottle it up for too long.
4. If you tell me to do something I am not comfortable doing, please do not make fun of me. Sometimes I can’t even gather up enough courage to do even the simplest of tasks.
5. Please do not mock my disorder or say I need to get over it. That’s like telling me to jump off a cliff because the fear I may die is all in my head.
6. If I talk to you too much about my stress and complaints, just know it is because I trust you and have no one else to talk to. Every once in a while I just need someone to listen to me so I know I’m not completely alone.
7. Please do not label my anxiety as you see it on the surface. Do not say things like “But you seem so chill so you must not have bad anxiety,” or “Your anxiety isn’t that bad, you’re fine.” Just because I do not show it doesn’t mean it’s not taking over my body.
8. If I have an anxiety attack, please do not call me “crazy” or tell me I’m overreacting. Sometimes when you think you might die, it is hard not to “overreact.”
9. Know I will have really good days and really bad days. On my good days, I can function while my anxiety is trying to control me. On my bad days, my anxiety has taken control of me and I may not be able to do anything but lie in bed.
10. Please know I am still a fun, outgoing, and loving person. I still love to do fun things. My anxiety is not me.
This story was published on The Mighty, a platform for people facing health challenges to share their stories and connect.