By writing this letter, I’m acknowledging that your existence-- something I’ve turned a blind eye to for the better part of my life. For as long as I can remember I’ve labeled my anxiety attacks and seclusion as being tired. Throughout the years, I’ve told my mom I was “tired” during the midst of a panic attack more times than I can even begin to count. It’s no wonder she thought I was anemic. But you can rest easy, mom, no anemia here.
My excuses weren’t exactly lies, though. You exhaust me, anxiety. You drain my energy to the point where having a simple conversation or laughing at a meme makes me feel the need to lie down. And for years, this confused me. Your existence was nothing but a fantasy to me-- a vague possibility. Something that if I admitted it to myself or anyone else, it would feel like a cry for attention or a plea for assistance.
We’re past that now, though, aren’t we? We’ve joined forces. You are far from my friend, but you are no longer my enemy. I’m finding the importance of listening to you instead of suffocating you deeper into my chest every time you reach out to make yourself known. You’ve let me come to terms with the fact that acknowledging you and sharing my mental health conflicts with others does not make me weak.
I’ve read endless articles that have told me the same thing over and over again: anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of. Accepting this fact is easier said than done. Because with acceptance comes the need for explanations to those I care about and trying to explain my triggers and panic attack symptoms to others is not exactly a fun little chat. That being said, it isn’t supposed to be.
Anxiety, you are not fun. I hate to break it to you, but no one really likes you. You are the reason why phrases like “party pooper” and “Debby downer” were coined. You’re the loud, annoying kid in class that interrupts the lecture with insignificant and pointless comments that have nothing to do with the topic at hand. You are paranoia. You are sleepless nights and crying silently in the bathroom. You are nail-biting and nervous ticks.
You are my ultimate fear, but you are a part of me. And because of that, I will embrace you. I will learn from you. I will not be afraid to tell you to shut up and sit down. I will listen to myself when you make me feel like I need help.
We’re an unlikely pairing, you and I. And we definitely don’t win “couple of the year,” but our relationship is something that I’m willing to fight for.