An Open Letter To Those Afflicted By My Anxiety

Anxiety makes you overthink every little thing. At times it makes you think people are leaving from your life. It leaves you feeling worthless and abandoned, because the most important people in your life deserted you. So you push away for the fear of being hurt. You push everyone away so they can't leave you. When in reality, nobody was ever leaving.

Because of my anxiety, I say sorry a lot because I'm genuinely afraid I've insulted you somehow.

I ask if I'm annoying because I genuinely fear that I have annoyed you.

I say things are 'awkward' because I can be uncomfortable in any situation. I never intend to hurt people.

I cry because sometimes people and certain situations are too much, not because I crave attention.

I don't text a lot because I'm clingy, it's because the lack of a response leaves me feeling like I've done something wrong.

I can be set off by little things, so don't tell me I'm overreacting when I panic.

I don't remember when I started suffering from anxious feelings, but it wasn't until this year when I reached an official diagnosis. Anxiety is a term that people constantly use to describe their anxious feelings. For those of you who understand what its like to have anxiety, you know those people don't know the half of it. Just because you're "anxious" does not mean you have anxiety.

Because people overuse the term "anxiety," others often confuse this with craziness. This honestly bothers me. I disappear from conversations often and go silent for no apparent reason. I constantly feel judged for this, and yes.. it hurts. Yes, it bothers me. I want you to know that I know there's no reason for me to freak out most of the time. I also want you to know how much it frustrates me that I lack the ability to shut that emotion down.

Many people can define their anxiety as getting wound up for a little while, but that doesn't describe it for me. I want you to understand that everyone's anxiety is different. To me, anxiety is a constant weight on my chest, headaches, tremors, feeling cold, stuttering, hives, and widespread fear.

Because of my anxiety, I wake up on edge every day.

My mind races every morning. I try to plan my entire day out exactly, down to what I'll do in between classes and what I'll wear. I try not to allow myself any free time for fear of time alone with my thoughts.

I want you to know I am not writing this for attention. I don't want your sympathy, nor do I need it. Talking about my anxiety is scary and challenging. This is something I've tried to do many times before, but I could never find it within myself to share. I've never had the ability to put this out here.

I try to hide my anxiety, but you see it. I know you see it, because you care. And because you care, you try to help me. You tell me to take breaths and to calm down. You try to make situations easier for me and I'm writing this because I know it's hard to maintain a relationship with someone who struggles with anxiety. I want you to know I'm not ignoring your advice. I want you to know I appreciate your love and caring heart. I know our relationship isn't easy for you. I feel like I owe you an explanation. The words "calm down" leave me to struggle with my anxiety and they make it that much harder for me.

I think this should be obvious, but just in case: If I could eliminate my anxiety, I would have done so a long time ago. I don't deal with these emotions by choice, so please stop telling me to calm down and using other phrases that imply I can control my anxiety.

I know you want to help me -- you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t, and I love you for that. I wish you didn’t have to deal with this; you probably feel the same way about me. So this is a learning process for both of us. I promise to keep trying to find new ways to cope with my anxiety. In return, I simply ask that you don't give up on me, even if it gets challenging. Relationships like ours are often what keeps me from drowning, and I love you for that.

So to everyone who has read this all the way through, to everyone who never left my side when I was struggling, to everyone who has offered unconditional love, hugs, support, and advice, here is my thank you to you.

With forever love,

Your friend that was able to keep going because of you.

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