Stop Telling Me How To Feel About My Anxiety

 Paolo Raeli

Paolo Raeli

My anxiety is like a bear; when it attacks I play dead and lay in the fetal position hoping it’ll go away. My anxiety is like a thousand knives all over my body; sometimes it hurts to breathe, to move, to think. My anxiety isn’t always a bad thing; at first it seems unbearable but my constant worrying reminds me that I left my door unlocked.

My anxiety is different every day. Some days I can swallow it down but other days it swallows me whole until it feels like there is nothing left but an empty shell. My anxiety tells me things like, “You aren’t smart enough. You can’t do this. They didn’t immediately text you back so they must hate you. That noise you heard while you’re lying in your bed alone PROBABLY is a murderer.”

My anxiety wears many masks, but its favorite is depression. It loves to take away my desire to get out of bed or go socialize or do anything that requires being awake. My anxiety makes me play arguments from middle school over and over and over, dissecting every word and movement until that gnawing feeling pops up in my stomach again.

My anxiety makes me live my life as numb as ice, yet as raw and exposed as a bundle of nerves. I’m simultaneously filled with a sense of not caring at all and caring too much; everything feels like salt rubbed into a fresh cut but somehow I feel empty inside as though I’ve been hollowed out for most of my life. My anxiety forces me to feel like a spool of thread, all tight and wound up; the only difference between me and an actual spool of thread is that the thread will eventually be unwound.

My anxiety isn’t talked about because it makes others uncomfortable. Other people can’t see it so it can’t be real, right? I mean, I can’t possibly still be carrying around experiences from my childhood or even last week so I must be overreacting. My anxiety prompts other people to ask “what’s stressing me out,” as if there’s always a specific cause and not just a general sense of worry that overcomes me.

My anxiety isn’t understood by me, so how do other people expect to understand it? How do they expect to tell me what I should and shouldn’t do, when I can’t even find a moment’s peace to try remedies for myself?

My anxiety isn’t something that I can explain, so please don’t make me. My anxiety is a minute by minute struggle, so please just let me try to breathe. My anxiety isn’t something that makes me fragile; you don’t have to walk on egg shells around me.

My anxiety doesn’t make me crazy; even though the amount of meds I’ve been on and the therapist bills I have might beg to differ. My anxiety makes me strong. Some days it’s all I can do to get out of bed or even breathe, but somehow I find a way to get through it.

My anxiety isn’t something that has anything to do with you, and it’s not for you to comment on.

My anxiety is a part of me just as my scar, or freckles, or birthmarks are.

My anxiety doesn’t define me; it’s just a part of who I am. TC mark

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