So, it has definitely been awhile since I posted on here. Sadly, life got the better of me and I got busy trying to cope with all the stuff that was going on in my life that I forgot that writing has always been the best form of therapy for me.
I remembered how excited I was when I started this blog almost a year go to the date. I had chosen to bet on myself and create something that I was convinced people would appreciate because I can achieve anything I set my mind to, right?
Well, It certainly did not happen that way, I noticed not enough people were reading it, even the few close friends that know who I am and the stories behind my posts sometimes would be too busy to read them, and as my anxious mind likes to tell me “maybe they just don’t give a fuck.” So, I stopped. Between feeling like a failure, my anxiety kicking up again, a new job, new roommate, and school starting up again I forgot all about it.
Until recently, someone sent me a text that phased me in a way that I didn’t expect and brought back memories that I thought I had let go of, then I remembered I had written something about this person. I didn’t write it for the blog, I thought it was too personal to post. As I laid in bed for three days with some crippling depression and re-read it, I remembered how at ease I had felt after letting all of that out, but the memory got the best of me and sunk me in deeper in my sadness. It wasn’t until later when my roommate and I were sharing a beer on the porch that I decided to show it to her because I thought it would give her a better understanding of how I had felt back then. To my surprise, she liked it and even suggested I start a blog. “I have one already.” She then suggested I posted it. I told her I didn’t want that person to read it, that I have been scared of the way they would react and what they would think of it. However, thanks to some liquid courage and the knowledge that no one really reads my blog, along with the fact that this person would be the only one that would be able to decipher that it was in fact about them and has very limited knowledge of my blog, I decided to post it.
I had forgotten all about A Random Twenty Something. The next day I felt so inspired to get back on it and start making posts, so here I am. Writing nonsensical posts about nothing in general. So, how about I just catch you up.
I recently started getting help for my anxiety, I have finally been diagnosed with Agoraphobia and an Anxiety Disorder. Agoraphobia is the fear of having a panic attack. With this, people who suffer it such as myself, try to avoid situations, people and places where we have previously had a panic attack because the familiarity of it can be enough to make us shake and not be able to breathe. This, of course, is counterproductive, because one would imagine if you go to those places and face your fears, once nothing happens, you’ll be fine.
Yeah, it doesn’t really work that way.
I have learned a lot about my anxiety in the past few months; some good, some not so much. I learned that I’m not the only one (it’s easy to feel like you’re battling this alone when none of your close friends or relatives know what it’s really like) in fact, some of my idols had agoraphobia as well. I learned it is curable in most cases without any medication. The most important thing though is that I learned how invisible it is to other people who have never experienced it, through no fault of their own and the repercussions it can have on those who do.
I first noticed this with my friends. How they would invite me to do things and I would say “yes” or “maybe” then the day of whatever plans I had agreed to I would have a breakdown and bail. After doing this repeatedly and explaining to them that I couldn’t go or stay because of my anxiety, I started to notice that every time this happened they would get angry at me. I got called selfish and I was told that I didn’t care about them, their time, or their needs, I was letting them down and it was always with the same excuse, because of my “anxiety” in quotations, as one of them oh so very eloquently put it. Those quotation marks hurt more than being called everything else.
Putting my anxiety in quotations meant this person that I care so much about, did not only not take my excuses as valid and used it to insult me, but more importantly they didn’t even believe it was real. Whilst talking to my therapist about it she mentioned how sometimes this can be harder to deal with because mental illness is invisible, you wouldn’t ask a person with cancer to just be positive and think happy thoughts when they bail on going out because they’re not feeling well, would you? (I do not have cancer and I am in no way am making this point to undermine this illness), same could be said about a broken bone. The biggest thing, though, is that because they can’t see it they assume you’re faking it.
I think for me, that has been one of the hardest things about dealing with my anxiety. Thankfully my family is very supportive, or as much as they can be without having ever experienced anything like this. In a way, I am glad because I wouldn’t even wish this on Donald Trump but it does make it a challenge. They’ll send me inspirational videos about how positiveness can change your day and get rid of anxiety and stress. This is so thoughtful and true for most people and even myself some days. However, when you’re in the middle of a panic attack, these thoughts do not help, most of the time you can’t even make yourself stop thinking about whatever it is that caused it in the first place. Even though I know they mean well and they’re only trying to be supportive and helpful, these kinds of things sometimes have the opposite effect because it reminds me that they really don’t know, don’t understand and I am in fact fighting this alone.
I want to say if you’re my family member and you’re reading this, it doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate it, I am able to acknowledge the fact that it comes from the love you have for me and your desire to help me overcome, and that is all I need from you. The knowledge that you’ll be there even if you don’t understand.
Woo-eh that took a dark turn. Anyways, for the people reading this that have never experienced it just remember that just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not real, and keep at it. Be supportive. Lastly, I want to add that the fix for this particular problem does a exist. Through empathy and awareness.
The same friend that put my anxiety in quotations apologized for not giving my mental illness validity. She encountered someone in a group setting that mentioned how hard it is to deal with the fact that people you love don’t believe you when you say you don’t feel well, or can’t go someplace. I know it took a lot of courage to accept the fact that she had been doing it to me too, and I am so grateful that she is now trying to be more supportive. This gives me hope because by talking about it, people who suffer from this can also help fix the problem. For my friend, it took a random stranger saying the exact same thing that I had been telling her to really understand, to believe that it is real. I don’t know who this person is, but thank you. As I write this post I would like to believe that someone who doesn’t understand will get this far and believe it too. So if you do suffer from it, speak up. I know it can be scary because most people will try and undermine it, or one-up you but for that one person that will actually listen, it could change everything.
Featured Image Photo cred HERE.