I have always been the anxious type.
I can remember back to Kindergarten, circa 1995, when we had ‘free time.’ I can recall scanning the room for another four-year-old to play with and thinking who would want to play with me. My heart raced a bit and I felt a bit queasy. I saw two kids energetically piling wooden blocks and giggling, and thinking that I would love to join them. I was nervous. Would they accept me into their game?
Anxiety is the type of thing that is difficult. It can be something that you can feel almost debilitated by, but at the same time, may not be so visible to others. I have suffered from anxiety attacks that have legitimately felt like hour-long episodes in which I was trapped in a cold, steel metal box from which I could not escape. When these attacks have happened in public, sometimes others may not have even known, but I have felt them so vividly.
My intention is not for you to feel sorry for me. However, it is to bring to your attention that anxiety and mental illness should be topics for open dialogue. I have spoken to close friends who also have suffered from anxiety and have felt all consumed by it. My wish is that people can feel more comfortable to share their thoughts of worry with others in rooms that are not so private. It should not be a topic that is brushed under the rug.
I am fortunate (and perhaps jokingly not so fortunate) that my father is a psychiatrist. I have become familiarized with terminology pertaining to mental illness since I was a young girl. My father has also imparted in me the idea that I should be able to talk to him about anything and everything. This concept is imperative in that if I feel anxious, I know that my thoughts do not have to stay caged within me, but I can let them flutter freely.
What I want you to take away from this article is the following: whether or not you have personally suffered from anxiety, someone you know or will meet has. I challenge you to reflect on this question. Do you put yourself out there in the world as a person who is empathetic and open to discussion? Chances are more people will feel comfortable to share about their anxiety if they feel comfortable with someone to open up to.