This story was originally published on The Mighty.
My life has been a series of saying, “I’m sorry.” Sometimes, I don’t know what I’m sorry for; the two words just slip out.
Most of the time I’m sorry because I feel as though I carry a great deal of baggage. I feel like a burden. I don’t want to put anyone out because of my anxiety and the person I am. I don’t want people to judge me, but I don’t have control of that. I don’t want to say sorry, but honestly, I am.
For so many years, I’ve felt like a burden because of my anxiety.
I put myself in a bubble because I was concerned if I let my guard down, you’d see me differently and insist I was being dramatic. I guess those concerns came to fruition because I’ve heard “You’re just being dramatic” quite a bit.
Interestingly enough, anxiety isn’t acting. Anxiety comes in many different forms, but having anxiety doesn’t equate to being dramatic. So please, don’t tell me otherwise. I’ve heard how ridiculous it is I worry about certain things and have been told on numerous occasions “I don’t need to worry.” If only it was that easy.
Does anyone truly believe I enjoy worrying? Do you think I enjoy when my stomach is in knots? Do you think I enjoy when my body shakes or my mind and heart are racing? I’m sure you can answer those questions on your own. Please, know if I could flip a switch and turn off the anxiety, I would; but anxiety isn’t wired that way.
Teasing me about my anxiety and panic isn’t funny. I know you say you’re joking, but there’s always some truth behind every “just kidding.” With my anxiety comes sensitivity. I’m a fragile person. The way in which you use your words are not taken lightly by me. I need you to know my anxiety isn’t something that should be mocked or joked about. It’s an illness.
Anxiety doesn’t come with a guide. It can hit you anytime, anywhere and can leave you in a heap in the middle of the floor. I’ve been there a thousand times.
The thing is: Anxiety is real. It’s painful. It’s numbing, and it’s a great big ball of fear, tangled thoughts, and worry.
When I’m in an anxious state, I can’t think straight. I fixate on things. When I say fixate, I mean I obsess and overthink. For some reason, I think if I fixate and obsess on something, it’ll go away, taking my worry and fears with it. But guess how many times it’s worked? None.
Please, be gentle with me. I carry a sign that says, “Handle with care.” I wear my heart on my sleeve. I love with everything I have.
Oftentimes, I can’t hear the words you say to me because the thoughts in my head are much louder. Sometimes, I don’t need you to say anything. Just hug me. Just sit with me. Just be there for me. That’s all I need when I’m spiraling.
Please, don’t disregard my worry and fears. It just makes the situation worse for me. If you tell me you locked the door, I have to check it. If you tell me you’re going to do something, then please do it. I may ask you four or five times just to make sure. I know it can get frustrating for you, but it’s what I need to feel secure, to feel like I can put my faith in you. Please, know I don’t think you’re a liar. I just need to feel like I have some sort of control of my mind.
My anxiety is a battle, but I’ve chosen to put my armor on to take on the task of tackling the giant. Anxiety doesn’t define me, but it’s a huge aspect of my life, and I’ve come to accept that.
I hope you’ll accept not only that, but also me. I am who I am. Even though my mind and body are riddled with anxiety, I still believe I can make a difference.