This is something I don’t talk about much, but here it is: I have anxiety. Pretty bad anxiety. To the point where I doubt everything I say, to the point where I avoid talking to people because I’m paranoid that everything I say is annoying, or makes me sound unintelligent, or causes unintended distress and/or duress on whomever I happen to be speaking to. I avoid interacting with people because I view myself as a burden. I bite my tongue because I don’t want to come across as arrogant. Or sometimes I DON’T bite my tongue, and I have a mini panic attack because I know I DID come across as arrogant (because I don’t know how not to?), and I think I’m the center of everyone else’s universe so the fact that I come across as arrogant makes people wish I was anywhere but wherever they are. Sometimes I’ll open up to someone and then I’ll immediately worry that I’ve come across as clingy.
The hardest part of my anxiety for me is the social aspect. It’s become worse over the years for sure, but it’s always been there. It makes it extremely difficult to function in society, and it makes my career a lot harder. Working in the corporate world REQUIRES you to be extremely social, and that’s very hard for me. I understand that I have this issue, so I can fake it…but then I become anxious about coming across as fake, and something that comes naturally to a lot of other people feels about 500 million times more difficult and forced for me. I feel a lot of shame for forcing this “persona” that is 100% not how I feel inside, but I also feel terrible when I’m standoffish and cold – I’m naturally a pretty friendly person, but my paranoia about coming across as desperate makes me seem aloof.
The other major part of anxiety for me is just overwhelming fear. Of everything. I’m afraid of rejection. I’m afraid of terrorists. I’m afraid of global warming. I’m afraid of failure. I’m afraid my dog will die. I’m really, really afraid of medical issues, particularly cancer. I’m a major hypochondriac, but I won’t get checked out because I’m afraid of what they’d find. I avoid talking about it, because I realize how ridiculous and illogical and irresponsible it is. I may be riddled with anxiety, but I’m an extremely logical person and this drives me insane about myself.
Also, I recognize I have anxiety. You’d think this would make things easier, but it actually makes it extremely frustrating. I know a good deal of my thoughts are irrational, but I’m always second guessing myself. Is it my anxiety, or do I just suck? Why do I have no social graces? Why do I always feel uncomfortable unless I’m by myself or alone with Jeff? Is it just anxiety, or is there something bigger wrong with me? Do I have Asperger’s? Is Asperger’s even a thing anymore? I probably don’t have Asperger’s, and I’m a terrible person for even thinking that. Why am I so dramatic?? And so on and so forth.
It’s become apparent that anxiety has become the “it” condition to have recently, and it’s really good that it’s being discussed and accepted more. That said, I avoid talking about it because I don’t like to come across as weak and I don’t want people to pity me. It’s so important to me that I come across as put together. I also worry about coming across as a drama queen, and now that anxiety is so widely discussed, I’m worried that I’ll come across as a bandwagon jumper. I haven’t sought medical help, because I don’t know how I feel about being medicated. A weird thing about anxiety and depression (which I also have, intermittently…though I consider myself to be extremely lucky in that it’s not debilitating) is that you can be an extremely happy person and still suffer from both of these conditions. And I am. I am extremely fortunate and I genuinely love my life, to the point where I feel elated relatively frequently. I honestly don’t think it’s a manic thing…I just honestly recognize how wonderful my life is. I worry that if I was to go on medication, I might lose some of my joy. I don’t want to lose my joy.
I don’t think I have a super specific reason for coming forth with all of this, but it’s good to just get it out. It feels extremely vulnerable and I’m sure I’ll regret it later in a variety of ways, but I think it’s good for people to know how other people feel, because it feels good to relate to other people. I also really want to work on getting better. I want to have kids soon, and I want my kids to be okay. I don’t want them to have to deal with this, or if they do I want them to feel okay with being open about it. I don’t want them to hold it inside and feel ashamed or embarrassed or small. I know that, between me and Jeff, there’s a good chance that our kids might struggle with anxiety or depression or some combination of the two, and I want to be able to support them and to not crumble under my own self doubt when it happens. I want to be strong for them, and I want to be in a place where I don’t make it all about myself and I’m able to support them through it. I want them to be able to relate to me, but I want to be proof that it turns out okay. I want to be their champion. I don’t want them to hold back because they feel like they need to take care of me. I’m going to get better, because I want to be better for my future children, and I want to be better for Jeff, and I want to be better for myself. It feels good to say that. I’m going to do what it takes to feel better. And if you feel weird, or uptight, or like a burden, or uncomfortable in your own skin, you should do whatever it takes to make yourself feel better too. It doesn’t need to be this big, dramatic thing…but it needs to be. We’re worth it. 🙂
P.S. – Trader Joe’s Popcorn in a Pickle is really doing it for me. I’m just saying. It’s worth a try.