Understanding something you don’t have isn’t an easy task. I realized that I never really addressed my mental health and how it truly affects me and the way I operate on a daily. I have mentioned it may affect my ability to focus or react to certain situations, however I never addressed the “how”. It makes sense to me now why many people still don’t understand it and why they continue to say the things they say.
I told them that my anxiety makes me nervous. I told them that it limits my ability to speak up for myself in a way that everyone could understand. What may seem as “little things” to the average person, are the biggest possible negatives for someone who struggles with anxiety. No one else can understand how easy it is to have a mental breakdown on the sight of any minor inconvenience. When your schedule isn’t following as the directed order which messes up your entire life’s structure, and suddenly your whole mind is malfunctioned and shuts down. My friends would never understand why I run from pressuring situations. Why I think about something that embarrassed me every single second until I am reassured. They don’t get to experience the uncontrollable outbursts of irrational concepts that enter my mind after just dealing with something I found disastrous. They don’t understand that gripping, aching, fast-past feeling of reacting in the moment when you face embarrassment. Where flight is your first instinct and the reason why you have become accustomed to avoiding situations.
On a daily I live my life as if someone is watching me. As if I am the focus of the rest of the world’s social experiment. The sad part is that it wasn’t an exaggeration, this is constantly what goes through my mind as I wash the dishes, use the bathroom, brush my teeth, go to bed, and do many other very average things while I’m alone. I am living my life as an exaggeration in itself. It’s the reason why I am on edge 24/7 and looking around the room constantly, hoping that nobody would notice. It is almost impossible to transport them into an internal setting where your entire body is manual, and you’re living your life as some visible robot.
I mentioned that I get panic attacks. However, I have never expressed how unexplainable it is to feel like you’re dying. I never painted them picture of pure fear and agony. When you’re breathing and then suddenly you realize that your heart rate is slowing, the world is slowing and your scenery is being taken over by a million colorful shapes. It’s that feeling when you’re running from danger in a dream but everything is in slow motion so you get caught and you panic and you wake up and it’s over. Except this isn’t a dream and you are already awake and it is not over. You try to pull your consciousness together and don’t even realize that you’re gripping the hell out of a stranger’s shirt to prevent you from your seemingly endless fall. Abruptly, all of the attention is on you and you’re facing overbearing amounts of excruciating pain. Everything is loud from the indistinct chaos surrounding you, but you’re too busy wailing in pain to even care. Then suddenly, it stops. Your vision clears up. The pain ends. Your heart rate is normal.
All of these things that those who struggle with anxiety must deal with on a daily. They wouldn’t be able to comprehend the fact that this is our reality. No matter how many times we feel like we have screwed up, or the amount of times we have been embarrassed to the point of collapse. We still have to get right back up and continue living because that’s what fighters do. Anxiety is being at war with yourself, especially when you’re one of those who are brave enough to fight it. It is the persistency of hearing “no no no no yes no no no no no” nagging in your head for every single decision you make. It is double checking to see if the lights are off when they are obviously off, not because you want to but because you have to. You do all these irrational things because you have to. And bless your soul if you don’t because now you are once again on edge that someone will die. Or you will die or that you will get cancer and die or that you’ll get kidnapped and die or your plane will crash and you die or that you’ll fail a test and die so you turn right back around and you check those damn lights again.
Constantly reminding yourself that you are actually here, living, it is so exhausting. No one knows what goes on in your head on a daily. No one understands how it feels to just want to be calm. Even relaxing is stressful because I'm not used to that feeling. Life can be going fine but there is still stress in the energy and it sucks. Anxiety really really sucks and that's the truth. So to those who struggle with it and maybe even more, just know that I understand. Or I'll make the effort to. Don't ever have anyone shame you for the way that you feel because in the end it is your feelings and it is impacting you. No one else would understand it more than you because you're the only one experiencing it in your own individual pace.
It is mental health awareness month. Too many of our issues have been overlooked and that is a problem because nothing will change and no one will get the help they need. It's time to voice and make our problems aware.