Dear Anxiety, I Know You Will Never Go Away, But You Will Never Define Me

Dear Anxiety, I Know You Will Never Go Away, But You Will Never Define Me

A letter of things I've been waiting to tell my anxiety.
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Dear Anxiety,

You have overstayed your welcome for far too long. I never asked you to be here. It’s even hard to pinpoint an exact time you showed up. You’ve just always been there. I’ve had so much taken away from me because you will not leave me alone. I’ve missed out on so many childhood experiences because you made me too nervous to do them.

The countless sleepless nights and panic attacks. The years of switching medication just to numb you. Numerous friendships that have been broken from your interferences. A lifetime of bullying resulted by you not allowing me to stick up for myself for so long. The countless hours in therapy to learn why you’re here and how to get rid of your furtive personality.

It took 20 years, but I’m starting to realize you will never go away.

I’ve had my perspective changed so many times, but I’ve finally settled on one perspective that I don’t believe I’ll be changing anytime soon. I’m sick of your chatoyant eyes always following my every move, but I’ve learned to accept it at the same time.

You are part of me, but you do not define me.

I needed to start learning how to live with you rather than get rid of you. I realize that it is a cause of genetics, not of upbringing. Regardless, you are not an enjoyable entity to lug around each day, but I can’t change that. I’ve gotten used to the feeling that half of who I am is eternally hidden in your penumbra, but I won’t let you mask the entirety of who I am. I have enough strength now to pull most of myself from you, which is better than nothing.

I learned from the difficult situations you’ve caused me to have and now understand how to function with you. I know I will be learning how to handle you every day for the rest of my life, but it gets easier with each passing day. I've developed metaphorical handfuls of coping strategies and the motivation to not let you control me another day longer than you have. I am much stronger than you may think, and no matter how hard you try, you will not destroy me again. I am so much more than you.

However, any time you would like to leave would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

A Very Exhausted Girl

Cover Image Credit: Max Pixel

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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It's Hard Living With Anxiety In A Culture That Romanticizes It

Struggling with a mental health issue becomes even more challenging when people try to make it charming

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If you are someone who knows the struggles of living with anxiety then I'm sure you're not blind to people who are trying to romanticize it. These people are trying to make the anxiety they feel into something cute. The people who are trying to make their anxiety cute most likely do not suffer from an anxiety disorder because if they did, they would understand that there is nothing cute about anxiety. Instead, these people have normal, healthy anxieties that all people get.

The difference between healthy anxiety and anxiety as a mental health problem varies from person to person. Getting a little nervous before a big test is a normal healthy dose of anxiety, but being so upset about the test that you don't sleep the night before and can't stop yourself from shaking as you take the test is not a healthy amount of anxiety and is definitely not cute. Anxiety is something that everyone gets at some points in their life, in small doses it is OK, but when it becomes an everyday struggle, that has crossed over from healthy anxiety to a possible anxiety disorder.

When I was in tenth grade, I was so anxious that I would lash out at people and burst into tears without warning. I stopped doing the things I loved, like playing soccer, because I was too anxious to go to tryouts. I had been playing soccer for as long as I could remember but when I started suffering from anxiety, the thought of going to tryouts was just too much for me. After months of this, I finally went to the doctor. I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. What this means is basically that I am constantly anxious about something.

I'm always worrying something bad is going to happen, or about money and other stressors. After my diagnosis, I was given medication to help try and ease my mind and I started seeing a therapist. While all of this was going on in my life, I never once had the thought to try and make my anxiety cute or thought I was so lucky to have it because it wasn't cute. Nothing about me being so afraid to go try out for soccer was cute. Nothing about me staying up all night because of the nightmares I was having night after night made me think that I was lucky to have so much anxiety. Nothing about my anxiety was romantic.

So why do we see people trying to make it cute, or make it romantic? Well, for some, if they really do have an anxiety disorder and they try to cope by making it seem cute or less scary than it is that's okay because that's their coping method. But if you do not have an anxiety disorder, if every day of your life is not riddled with fear and worry, don't try to romanticize my anxiety. Don't try to make me feel lucky for having it. This is something I will struggle with every day of my life. This is not something I wanted. This is not romantic.

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