To My Family Who Doesn’t Understand My Anxiety Disorder

Sanja Marušić
Sanja Marušić

We all know I’m the black sheep in the family. While I’m worrying about everything, everyone is worrying about me.

Let me be the first to tell you I wish I wasn’t like this. But I’ve come to learn that there are some parts to ourselves we can’t choose. Through many years of trying to understand why I am the way I am, through many things I’ve read, to every therapist I’ve gone to, I’ve realized anxiety isn’t something to be cured but rather something I needed to learn to accept.

My simplistic hope is that you accept it as well. I’m going to give you a little insight into what it’s like living inside my head. I’m quiet and I keep to myself but my mind is anything but that.

So let’s walk down the road I call my life and I’ll tell you everything.

Let’s start with the night because that’s the worst. I don’t sleep. And if I do it’ll be for like 3 hours then I wake again. My nights consist of over thinking about my day. I think about the things I might have done wrong, the people I might have hurt, the things I could have improved on. But above all I think about the mistakes of my past. They haunt me like a tune I don’t want on repeat in my mind.

Every mistake I made in my life, the really big ones replay in my mind and they don’t stop. Because you might have forgiven me but I haven’t forgiven myself.

Then I wake up and I start with my day. You might realize I have the exact same routine every morning. I need a routine in my life to function. I need to know plans ahead of time. I need to mentally prepare for things. So sporadically springing things on me freak me out. Not knowing what the plan is freaks me out. If I can’t control my anxiety I’m going try and control other parts of my life.

When you text me….

Texting. Please for the love of God answer my texts quickly. I’ll immediately think I’ve done something and you are mad at me for it. Situations go from bad to catastrophic in my mind. Then I’ll send rapid fire texts like 8. The best thing you can say to me is, “I’m not ignoring you please give me a moment.” You have to understand my mind is in fast forward mode from the moment I wake up until my eyes shut.

When you and I make plans.

One admirable quality about someone with anxiety is being punctual. If you tell me to be somewhere I will be. If we plan something in the future I will remember. If you cancel hours before it will throw off my entire day. I know things come up, that’s life but just try and be on time because I’ll be five minutes early.

When I mess up.

I’m a perfectionist. I want to do everything right. I just want to be the best I can be. Something I’ve learned about perfection isn’t just that it’s unattainable but I’m try for it anyway. More than that I’m going to fail a lot. You might look at me and think why can’t I stick to something. I just want to do it so perfectly I set myself up for unrealistic expectations and I do fail. Often times that commitment means I’ll say yes to everything. I’ll will bite off more than we can chew. I’ll somehow appease everyone even if I’m exhausted. I’m sure you realize how much I do and how tired I am all the time. I don’t like saying no and I’m most reliable people you can rely on. But every once in a while I’m are going have a fucking meltdown. It’ll probably be after I fail something. When that happens just tell simply it will be okay and sit there with us. Because sometimes I just need to hear that and know I’m not alone.

When you take something of mine.

Organization. Something as simple as you moving something of mine could set me off. Not knowing where I put something or losing something that is important to me, even if it’s only lost for a few hours is a small enough trigger tears. You might think I’m messy and unorganized but even in a mess I know where everything is.

When we are at a party.

Parties. Social anxiety is the worst. It almost feels like I got invited to a party that no one wants me at in the first place. And I look around and everyone is smiling and laughing and all I’m thinking is “blend in. Don’t be weird. Act like everyone else.” But in reality I am unbelievably insecure in a social setting. Maybe it leads me to drink more. Maybe I go from silent and sober to the life of the party drunk. Alcohol and anxiety really don’t mix well together. The best thing someone can do for us in social settings is pull me aside and just talk to me one on one. I’ll appreciate everything about that.

When there is a new relationship.

Relationships. Relationships aren’t easy for regular people. Add a level of paranoid anxiety to the situation and we ruining something before it even begins. Like I said my mind is fast forward mode. I like knowing where things are going and where they are going to end up, sometimes I skip a few steps to try and get there. If something goes wrong with someone don’t hound me asking for questions because the reality of it is I don’t understand what went wrong, and I probably spend days analyzing everything to a point where it made me sick. Relationships are difficult for me. If you can just tell me it’ll be okay, that’s the best thing you can do.

Friendships are the same way. I’ve lost a lot of people I’ve cared about being the way I am. Don’t make me feel bad about it. Don’t ask where someone is or why. Chances are our hearts are completely broken over it more than any relationship we’ve ever been in. We always will blame ourselves for things ending and it’s guilt that eats away at us.

When I push you away.

I seclude myself. I’m a loner at times. I push people away and don’t want to be a burden. But when I push you away is when I need you most. So stay with me. When I’m quiet and I isolate myself it’s because something probably happened. I’m tough and I won’t ever come to you to you first. But if you ask I will tell you. TC mark

Kirsten Corley

Kirsten is the author of But Before You Leave, a book of poetry about the experiences we struggle to put into words.

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