I wish it wasn’t true
There are so many days when I wish I didn’t have anxiety. I can’t count the moments, weeks, months, and years that I wanted to NOT be panicky. There are too many to remember. I’ve probably forgotten many of them and I’m glad. I’m content not remembering how terrible I felt being out of control of my mind and body. I don’t want anything to do with anxiety. If I could put it in the dumpster and set that dumpster on fire, believe me, I would. Unfortunately, I can’t get rid of it. Anxiety is a chronic condition I have to manage for the rest of my life. One of my best friends told me that my anxiety baseline is higher than most people’s. That means that I am already experiencing a high level of anxious feelings, to begin with, and then on top of that you add panic attacks (when they happen) and it’s a recipe for disaster. Anxiety ruins my life over and over again. It barges into my mental house and punches my thoughts in the face. I hate it, but I’ve learned to recognize when it’s coming for the most part. There certainly times when I was surprised by it, but that’s the nature of panic, it shows up and scares you. I wish more people understood how awful it feels when you’re not in control of how you feel.
You don’t understand
You don’t get it, I’m not faking, making a scene for attention, exaggerating, making a “big deal” out of “nothing. Anxiety is making it nearly impossible for me to speak, think, hear what you’re trying to tell me, eat, use the bathroom, get out of the restroom because it’s making me sick, or do anything at all. Please stop asking me to calm down, realize that it is mind over matter, fix my problems or work on them in therapy. Do you know how much cognitive behavioral therapy I’ve done? A lot. I know how to use coping strategies to manage my anxious thoughts and feelings, I understand when I am catastrophizing, I recognize the black and white thinking, but that doesn’t stop panic attacks from coming around. I can’t “snap out of it,” and if I could, I would. I don’t know why you don’t get it, but if you’re incapable or unwilling to understand how anxiety ruins people’s lives sometimes, then please leave me along so I can have a panic attack in peace.
I know what I’m doing
I hate that expression “trust me I know what I’m doing.” It’s terrible. However, I do know what I’m doing. I’ve been living with anxiety for the past 38 years. It’s impacted every area of my life – jobs, relationships, family life, and friendships. I wish I could tell you that it’s been a smooth road to recovery but like I said earlier: there’s no recovery from anxiety, there’s only management. It would be great if I could say “I’m in recovery from feeling chronically anxious.” I want to be able to tell people that, but it doesn’t work that way. I know what I’m doing when I leave the party because I can’t breathe. I’m used to feeling overwhelmed by the smallest thing, and sometimes not knowing why that thing is significant. If I tell you I don’t know why I am anxious, I’m not lying. I do not know. How can you help? You can ask me what I need. Maybe I don’t need anything and that’s fine. But when I tell you I’ve been here before, I mean it. If there’s anything I know well – it’s anxiety.
I hope you don’t get it- ever
I don’t wish panic attacks on my worst enemy. If you don’t know what debilitating anxiety feels like – you are so lucky. I’m happy you don’t have to feel out of control most of the time. If you don’t ever have to deal with anxiety, try to empathize with someone who does. And empathize not sympathize. Don’t feel bad for me. I’m not pathetic, I’m human. I’m just like you, except my brain doesn’t stop…ever. If there’s anything you don’t understand, ask me. Please let me explain it to you. You never know, you might meet another person with anxiety like me, and then you’ll have a better idea of what to say to them. Any questions?