Dear Anxiety, We Need To Talk

Let me be clear, anxiety is a bitch.

If anxiety was a person, it would be that person that periodically reminds you that your clothes fit a little tighter than they used to, or asks you how your love life is going when they know darn well you haven’t been on a date in at least six months.

Anxiety is wonderful at making sure you are constantly reminded of everything stupid you’ve ever said. Also, if you want to make sure you never forget about how sometimes you feel self conscious about the way you look, and that you could have better grades and a job that pays better, I highly recommend you welcome anxiety into your life, because it is exceptional at making sure these things stay in the forefront of your mind.

Anxiety has greeted me at some inconvenient moments in life; in my car, in the passenger seat of a very cute boys car, at work, when I am trying to fall asleep at 3 am, airplanes, grocery stores, high school classrooms, you name it, anxiety has probably greeted me there. I don’t think anxiety and I are ever going to be friends. I don’t think I could ever be friends with the thing that has taken so much joy out of my life. I have missed concerts, and nights out with friends, and so many life experiences simply because anxiety said I couldn’t do it. I have realized that my anxiety has taken a lot from me, but over the years I have taken a lot back, I’ve made anxiety my bitch. Anxiety is my frenemy, but I’d be lying if I said my anxiety hasn’t made me a better person.  

Anxiety has made me patient, both with myself, and with other people. The people who know me best know that dealing with me in the moments when my anxiety has a hold on me requires a lot of patience. Sometimes my anxiety makes me want to crawl into someone’s lap and feel arms around me and sometimes it makes me want to be alone in bed for three days. Anxiety isn’t rational, and neither am I when I am experiencing it. The people who love me are so patient with me in those moments, and it doesn't go unnoticed. I have started to accept that I am not going to always be the calmest person in the room, and I am okay with that, it makes me who I am. I have started to be patient and understanding with other people, and acknowledge that sometimes it isn't possible to have total control over the way we feel. Sometimes it is hard to be rational, and sometimes the way a person acts goes a lot deeper than the things on the surface. I have started to have a sense of patience with other people because anxiety has presented me far too many moments of needing it myself to not reciprocate.

Anxiety has forced me to be honest. I have never been more miserable in my life than the days that I hid my anxiety and depression from people. It really is true that secrets make you sick. The more I hid this demon from other people, the more power I gave it. My anxiety scares me less because it isn’t the scary monster hiding in the dark corners of my bedroom anymore, I forced it into the light by letting other people in, and took away its power. I am able to tell people when I am struggling instead of saying “I’m just tired” or “I’m just not feeling well.” The more I have told the truth about the things that I struggle with, the less alone I feel. My ability to be honest about my struggle has given me better relationships because I’m not trying so hard to seem “normal” all the time. I know that if my anxiety comes around, I’m not facing it alone. It is no longer my personal demon when I know too many people it’s haunting. Honesty has made my monsters into something less scary because I know I’m not alone, despite whatever my anxiety may have told me.

Anxiety is a bitch, but anxiety has made me a better friend. Anxiety has made me a better listener, which is challenging for someone who talks as much as I do.  Over the years my mom and my close friends have figured out that when I start to get anxious, the best way to prevent a full blown panic attack is to start talking to me about anything and everything, the things that make me happiest. We talk about my favorite books or movies, about exciting plans I have coming up, or something as simple like something cute my cats did that day. Talking calms my anxiety. Anxiety has made me realize the importance of community and communication. I can say without a doubt I would not have gotten as far as I have without my family, both blood and chosen.

I don’t know that me and my anxiety are ever going to be great friends. I don’t know that I can forgive it for making me miss that 1975 concert, or the whole month of December of my senior year, or for the chronic bags under my eyes from the lack of sleep. However, I will continue to force myself to celebrate the little victories, and to seek out the silver lining.

So anxiety, if you’re reading this, you’re a bitch, but I’ll be damned if I don’t get my silver lining.