To whom it may concern,
I write this letter for you. Regardless of your gender, age, ethnic background, or sexual orientation. Regardless of your skin color, your beliefs, level of anxiety, or where you come from. I write to stop the stigmas and to let the truth about anxiety be known. I write to inform, educate, bring awareness, and to let you know you aren’t alone.
This is a letter to everyone going through something. The ones in pain, the ones who can’t get out of bed, the ones who lost themselves completely due to a mental illness they feel they can’t control or overcome. This is to those who are too scared, or to those who want to help. This is for your brothers, sisters, and parents. This is for your best friend, or anyone looking to understand. Most importantly, this is for you.
I hope to represent accurately the community of those dealing with anxiety daily. I know many feel they understand, but I realize many do not. I’ll try and give an inside look into what goes through my mind constantly, why that is, and how it affects my life.
Anxiety is something that has consumed my life for a long time now. It’s apparent in everything I do and takes away from my life consistently. It’s apparent when I can’t sleep because my mind won’t stop, when I then wake up exhausted from lack of sleep and vivid dreams, and when I can’t get out of bed because I have no motivation to do anything. I often can’t bring myself to shower or brush my teeth due to lack of motivation, or eat because I’m nauseous and sick to my stomach due to worry. On the other hand, I’ll struggle with overeating because I’m so stressed. The medicine I take makes me feel foggy, flighty, and not myself whatsoever, which is another battle in itself. Anxiety is present in all parts of my life, but it’s most apparent in the thoughts that consume me.
I live in a constant state of fear that someone will be disappointed in me, fear of what others are thinking, fear that I won’t do anything with my life, or fear that I am a countless number of negative things.
It’s different than being aware of the things you need to do. It’s different than general concerns we may have.
These are constant negative thoughts that consume my mind and make it difficult for me to go about my daily life.
Caught in a Negative Cycle
Nothing, in particular, has triggered these thoughts. It’s a constant feeling of self-doubt and worry, which isolates me due to its persistence. I feel so unsure and like I have a weight on me that never subsides. Worry is attached to almost anything that goes through my mind. Other people, what they are doing, what they are thinking, my relationships, my weight, my looks, my self as a person, friends, and family. Anxiety creates a very negative cycle, which holds me back from being my most authentic self.
Imagine second guessing everything you do and finding a way to make every interaction and everything you think negative. I essentially become delusional and tricked by my own mind. Imagine something you should know, like “my boyfriend loves me”. Now imagine overthinking every single interaction and convincing yourself that this is not true. An argument didn’t have to take place, it could have been the way they replied to a text message, a look they gave you, a lack of response to something, or really anything. Anxiety makes everything about you when things have nothing to do with you. I am hyper aware of everything and have a way of twisting all things in favor of my anxiety.
I know many things I think are irrational. I have insight and awareness into my situation, and I can differentiate when my anxiety is overcoming me. Changing the thought patterns I’ve had for years doesn’t come without perseverance.
I know only you can validate and reassure yourself, but it’s hard to like who you are when you constantly attack yourself. It’s not just a persistent feeling of worry and uneasiness. I feel that way all the time, but the thing that interferes with life the most is my doubt for everything, which comes with a side of overanalyzing and self-deprecating thought. It’s so exhausting to have to convince yourself that what you know is true. It only takes one thing for me to read into, which changes everything.
Pushing People Away
A huge trigger for me is other people and what I think they are thinking. I am insecure about a number of things, which projects on to others and makes me push them away. Usually, nothing is wrong, and I have a way of creating conflict because my mind convinces me that something is wrong. I have pushed away so many people in a multitude of ways. I do this because I feel I am a burden. I treat myself totally differently to anyone else due to lack of self-love. I don’t like to depend on people or feel vulnerable. I feel I am too messed up, too emotional, too moody, too annoying, too much. So I make the executive decision to remove myself from particular equations even though I don’t want to in actuality.
An Everyday Process
I am good at pretending like everything is okay. Many of us are good at hiding it, and it is not something we like to advertise due to stigmas and people thinking you’re being dramatic. Just because we don’t let the world know we are in pain doesn’t mean we aren’t hurting. Social media is also not a fair or accurate depiction of how I am doing. I don’t think anyone wants to talk about negative things, so I keep it to myself. Talking about it makes it feel less genuine, but it also makes it real, and it makes you vulnerable.
I am not writing this for anyone to give me sympathy. I am fortunate and grateful to have numerous resources and support in my life. I write to explain, let people in, and speak the truth. I am accepting my anxiety, choosing to fight it, improving myself, and staying positive with what I have. I accept that this will forever be a process.
We are aware that there is someone who cares for us, but it doesn’t have anything to do with you.
Not Giving Up
We aren’t trying to be selfish, but the opposite. We are still here because of you, but we struggle with wanting to go because it’s easier. Sometimes anxiety feels like too much of a burden to bear, but knowing you have someone who loves you, cares, and is a positive energy in your life is helpful. I know on the other side of the spectrum, it’s easy to feel helpless when trying to be there for your loved ones who are struggling. Everyone is an individual in how they deal with their own anxiety, but I think a commonality is having a firm support system you can depend on.
I want to give everyone a huge thank you. Thank you for taking the time to read, thank you for caring, thank you for trying to understand, and thank you for not giving up on us.
(artwork is mine)