“Don’t have anxiety.” Three simple words, said probably out of wanting to help, but instead sent me the other direction. 15 letters, said by a superior of mine, in what they might have thought was helpfulness, but in reality, was pure ignorance.
I wish, I WISH it was that simple. That I could just tell myself “don’t have anxiety” and it would all go away. That the fighting that happens in my head would stop, that the voices I hear would silence. That the things I tell myself would show themselves as lies like they are, instead of the truth that I am convinced of.
Do you know why hearing comments like that are so hard? Not because people are rude, but because people mean so well. They say it because they want to help, but it doesn’t. It makes me feel inadequate, because my anxiety isn’t my fault, yet some think it is. I battle it, I fight it, I own it and I don’t let it control me, but at the end of the day, it is a part of me. It is a chemical imbalance that will always be there. The worst part about these comments is they make me feel diminished as a person. I feel less when people think that my panic attacks are for a stupid reason, that I should feel guilty for just being me. Let me tell you, I know my thoughts are not rational. I know I’m all over the place and I don’t make sense sometimes. But I also know that I will get through it. So, don’t tell me to just not have anxiety, and think that one comment will do the trick. I am aware that I have anxiety, I am aware that I need to calm down. You telling me this will just make me feel like I failed.
The truth is, you don’t really understand if you’re not going through it yourself. But that’s okay. You don’t have to understand. I don’t want any of you to understand because I don’t want you to feel what I feel. But don’t be afraid to ask if there’s any way you can help. Sometimes, you will receive an answer, and sometimes, you will receive an “I don’t know.” Either way, that’s okay. If I know or if I don’t, you can always offer kindness, a word of encouragement, a hug, anything.
All I want is to know, all that anyone wants to know, is that there’s going to be someone beside them, who has their back, who will hold their hand if they need it, who will be their number 1 supporter through it all. No one is ever going to get it right, but as long as you stand by us, that is all we will ever ask for.