Why I Need You To Understand My Anxiety

Ivan Jevtic

It’s just me, writing to you about something I think you need to understand. I want to explain why I’ve been to the doctors 12 times in the last 2 months.

I want to explain why I come running to you, out of breath and crying, in need of a hug and why you have to sit there and repeat “You’re okay” 1,300 times before I can get up. I want to explain why I end up crying on the floor sometimes. And I need to explain why I need reassurance sometimes on the craziest subjects and the tiniest things.

I want to explain why I ask so many questions and why I like things to be planned accordingly and why I panic when things don’t go the way it’s planned. I want to explain to you why some days I can’t get out of bed. And I need you to know why I’m always tired and exhausted. I need to tell you why I hold my chest like my heart is breaking into a million pieces. Or why in a crowded area I freeze, tense up and end up irritated. I need you know all these things and understand why I do the things that I do because without understanding, I fear I look insane and that you can’t be with someone who is insane.

I need you to understand that sometimes when you’re talking to me and I can’t respond, I fear that’ll somehow make you leave me because who wants someone who can’t talk sometimes. But I want you to know all these things and understand that I am so much more than what the anxiety shows. But unfortunately, anxiety shows its apprehensions and weakness in any times it feels it can. And those are the moments I I need you to comprehend.

I wake up each morning at 6:30 am, and lay in bed for a half an hour. Because a half an hour is how long it takes me to convince myself that if my feet hit the floor, the world isn’t going to shatter. At 7, my feet hit the ground. And I realize that I’m right and that I am okay. I say to myself, “This isn’t half bad.” But as I continue down the hall to the bathroom, my heart is racing 10 times faster than it should be and the questions begin:

Should this be happening? Is this normal?
I wonder if this is anxiety or I really truly need medical help.
What if I don’t get help?
What if I do get help and they call me crazy?
I’ll just deal with it. I’m not crazy.

At this point, my breathing is increasing to shorter and faster breaths. With each breath forms a new question.

This isn’t okay.
I’m not okay.
How many hours do I have until I can go back to bed?
Should I just call out today?

It’s now 7:07.
I can get back in bed for a little bit.
I can just throw my hair up in a bun.
And throw some snacks in a bag for lunch.
I don’t need all this time.
Back to bed, it is.

For the next half an hour I lay in bed. And it’s even harder to get out of bed the second time.

I shouldn’t have done that.
Why did I do that?
This is not what normal people do.
Now I’m lazy and crazy.
I need to get up.
I can’t get up.
Just move one arm and one foot.
Alright, well I’m still breathing so that’s a good thing.
I can do this.
I did it once already. Just again.

It’s now 8:00 am and I need to leave in 10 minutes to make it to work on time. Thoughts are still going, breathing isn’t much better and my heart still feels like its going to jump out of my body at any minute. At this point, I’d be glad if it did.

In 10 minutes I brush my teeth, wash my face, throw my hair up in a bun, do my makeup, put on my watch, my jeans, my shirt and shoes, grab my phone, turn off all three fans that I need because being hot makes me panic, turn off the tv because the tv needs to be on because, well you guessed it, it makes me panic when it’s off, turn off the light, grab the dog off the bed, pick up my bag and head downstairs. 3 minutes to leave until I end up being late but I can’t be late because then I start to panic…again.

So I take the dog out and pray that he sniffs his spot lightening fast and when he doesn’t…. I panic. I pour my coffee into my (new) cup, (thank you for that by the way, I love it), throw some things into my lunch bag, put the dog in the crate, grab my coffee, lunch, bag and out the door I go. While walking to the car I mentally check my list: lights off, tv off, fans off, dogs crate was shut, straightener was off and unplugged, garage closed…check check check. I get in my car, throw everything into the passenger seat and start my car. I close my eyes and with a deep breath I put the car in park and drive 20 minutes to my next destination: work. And now it’s 8:10.

In the midst of all of this, my chest is in physical pain at this point, because I’ve been trying so hard to breath and I just can’t. My heart is aching because it’s been beating so fast and trying to work so hard. When I take a deep breath, it doesn’t come. I start to panic. Why can’t I breathe? There is no air, there’s a lack of oxygen.

The car feels so much smaller, the walls of the car start to cave in. My leg is shaking, my hands are shaking, my tongue is numb. I’m light-headed and dizzy and I need to pull over because I no longer can see anything and I can’t think straight because all I keep thinking is that this is the end of my life. Right here, in the middle of route 30 is the end of my life. And I’m late for work.

I need you to understand that this is only 8:17 am. I need you to understand that this happens throughout the entire day. For the whole day, I fight and fight and fight just to be able to breath normally or to not feel like there’s a 100 pound brick that’s laying on my chest. Or to stop the thoughts and the heart from racing or the feeling that I’m not normal.

What I really need you to understand though is that although you may not ever experience this: there are people in the world that do and that this, this anxiety, is normal. And most importantly, what I need you to understand is that those 1,300 times you told me I’m going to be okay- is what makes it okay in that moment and that I WILL be okay and I truly believe that.

My moments are often, but through it all, I’ve learned and researched and experienced enough to know I will ALWAYS be okay. I am not insane or crazy, this is real. I need you to be my advocate because I want to be an advocate for others so they know they are not alone. This is tough. This is exhausting. But this is me and it always will be. [tc-mark]

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