Anxiety is a debilitating disease. Imagine a time in which you were once terrified. Now, multiply that feeling by ten and imagine having that level of fear and distress 24/7. That's what someone with an anxiety disorder goes through every day. The sheer grimness of it all is enough to shatter a relationship with a significant other, a family member, or even yourself.
This is the reality of anxiety. It's quite difficult to explain to someone who doesn't suffer from it. I understand that unless one experiences it firsthand, one cannot comprehend. But, if you have a loved one who suffers from anxiety, please, I urge you to read this and take everything I mention into consideration.
An anxiety disorder does not only affect the one suffering from the disorder; it affects them and everyone around them. The first thing to realize is that anxiety turns us into something we're not. I'm a happy-go-lucky individual with an intense love for puns and Disney. I laugh and sing and dance and embrace life. I used to be carefree. But, when I suffer from anxiety, I am not all these things. I am not Carolina, the person who is always happy.
I am not the tear- stricken worrier who can't sleep at night. But unfortunately, at my darkest times, this is who I become.
Anxiety turns you into something that you're not. When someone you love has an anxiety disorder, their mood can shift. Sometimes we wake up untroubled and delighted, but often times we wake up irritable, lonely and depressed.
We can tend to lash out. I've done it, and I instantly regret it. I'm not justifying the times I lash out at loved ones, but I'm trying to explain the reasons for our mood changes. We don't mean to be so negative, and when we hurt our loved ones because of our disorder, we suffer too.
We'll go from wanting constant affection and becoming little clingy monsters to wanting our space and wanting to be alone. We'll ask for constant reassurance for the most frivolous of things. Our fears will be irrational. Our anxiety attacks will leave us breathless and gasping for air. Anxiety makes us feel alone. We isolate ourselves because our worries are literally a cloud overhead, and it's all we can think about.
The simplest of tasks, whether it be getting out of bed, driving to school or work, or even picking up a phone call can leave us ridden with anxiety. There will be times that we'll cancel plans, and it isn't because we don't want to hang out with you, but because we're feeling terrible.
My biggest struggle is dragging myself out of bed every morning. I wake up anxious and full of dread. I dread the days I have to drive to school or work because those are the days that my panic attacks reach their peak. Those are the days when I seem absent minded and distant. But I don't mean to do so.
If you ever feel like there isn't anything you can do to help, I am here to tell you to not feel that way. Kindness help. A shoulder to cry on helps. A therapeutic venting session can help. We know the toll that anxiety can take on a family. I write this because what we ask for is patience. Don't reprimand us. Don't tell us it's "all in your head." Don't baby us. Just please, listen to us and be patient.