There’s this overall sadness in my bones when I think about how poorly the general understanding for mental illness is in America, as well as worldwide. Aside from understanding, the lack of acceptance for someone that is struggling with chemical imbalance in their brain hurts me. Here’s why.
I’m anxious. Like, I’m actually anxious probably 80% of the time, and the majority of it is unknown to me why I’m anxious, and whatever is left over is irrational fear and I feel foolish. But why do I feel foolish? Because I feel like I have to be quiet. I feel stupid saying, “Hey guys, I’m freaking out over this thing, but I don’t really know what that thing is. Isn’t it funny how my brain is just a little different than yours?” I can’t say that. That’s not acceptable, unless I’m with a bunch of other anxious or depressed humans.
I feel like my struggle with anxiety and the side effects of that make me appear weak. I know that I am very strong for living with what I do. I have horrible demons that hide in my skull, and I’m pushing past them every day so that I can maintain as much stability as I can.
In the past year, I feel like I can’t bring up my anxiety, especially with my family. I have two younger siblings who I want to look up to me. I want them to see me as an ambitious and creative and successful young and powerful feminist who is living her life out of drive and not fear. I don’t want my little sister to think that I’m having panic attacks regularly, or that I’ve been battling eating disorders for the past few years. I don’t want her to think I’ve struggled. I want her to be strong and healthy and pursue her dreams. I want my brother to feel capable of everything his mind could imagine. I don’t want my anxiety to yield any of their hopes.
I don’t like talking about my anxiety with my boyfriend or my friends, because I feel like a downer. I feel like I’m a bummer and a burden. I feel like if I’m truly, absolutely honest about my anxiety, I’m going to look like the big mess that my brain is. My parents give me weird looks when I bring it up.
I feel like I want to be able to be open and honest, but even when I say the word ‘anxiety’ out loud, I feel silly. I feel like it’s a forbidden topic that no one actually wants to hear. It’s okay that I have anxiety, so long as I’m managing that privately and outwardly cool and collected.
I had an anxiety attack the other day before work. I was trying to put air in my tires but this woman was sitting in front of the air pump and texting. I had to fill my tires before work, and as my time window slowly fell shut, my anxiety levels rose, and I just freaked out. Completely lost it. But I couldn’t tell anyone. No one would sympathize with a 22 years old girl crying in her stupid Passat because she couldn’t fill her tires with air. That’s so silly. I bottled it.
I started bottling my anxiety when I was 18. I bottled because I didn’t know what else to do. Bottling caused my anxiety to worsen, and lead me into eating disorders, body dismorphic disorder, and extreme paranoia with horrific intrusive thoughts. I’m bottling and bottling, and I’m concerned when the glass cracks.
I don’t talk about my anxiety, because no one wants to hear it. It’s still taboo. Anxiety is viewed as this “phase” young adults have. I don’t think it’s taken seriously by the general population. I’m afraid to talk about it. I’m equally afraid to see what happens to me if I continue to endlessly bottle.
Do you feel similarly? Totally disagree? Experience similar struggles? Did you find a way to overcome this? Suggestions? Comments?
Published by Emma Rathe