Poetry On Odyssey: Anxiety

Poetry On Odyssey: Anxiety

Are they listening when I talk? Will they laugh when I talk? Please, just don't ask me to talk.

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As the semester comes to an end, I am finishing up all of my final projects. For English 213, Introduction to Poetry, my final project is to present one of the poems that I workshopped during the semester in a public space. So, for my project, I decided not only to post my poem to Odyssey and advertise the poem by posting pieces of it around different bulletin boards around campus that display the link to the website. So, without further ado, here is my final poetry project:


Anxiety.

I'm listening,
Listening to the buzz of a dial tone
With the receiver in one hand
As I'm biting the already throbbing
Skin around the nails of the other.
I'm trying,
Trying to work up the courage
To press the numbers I need.

Who is going to pick up?
Will they pick up?
Please, just don't pick up.

I'm waiting,
Waiting outside in the cold
With my balled-up hand in mid-air
As sweat lingers on my frostbitten
Forehead that is cold to the touch.
I'm looking,
Looking for the strength
To knock on the door I'm standing at.

Is anyone home?
Should I just go home?
Please, just don't be home.

I'm slouching,
Slouching in my chair
With my head tilted downward
As I'm scratching the raw wound
That never gets the chance to heal.
I'm hoping,
Hoping that no one asks
For my clumsily formed opinion.

Are they listening when I talk?
Will they laugh when I talk?
Please, just don't ask me to talk.

I can't live my life.

I'm rehearsing,
Rehearsing my order
With my menu tightly gripped
As I stutter the words in my head
That echo my past mistakes.
I'm praying,
Praying that I don't forget
Anything that I want to say.

Are they judging my order?
Is there too much to my order?
Please, just don't comment on my order.

I'm keeping,
Keeping my headphones in
With no music playing
As my trembling hand fumbles
With the frayed bottom of my shirt.
I'm wishing,
Wishing that my weird little quirks
Won't be pointed out.

Are they laughing at me?
Should they laugh at me?
Please, just don't laugh at me.

Anxiety.

It's not a way to live.

It's a way to die.

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Understanding What It's Like To Live With An Anxiety Disorder

Having no control over your own mind is scary.
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Anxiety disorders are no fun for anyone. Most people don't understand what it's like to be someone who suffers from one. They come without warning and without reason. As I am writing this, I am awake at an ungodly hour due to this stupid battle my mind is having with itself.

Let me help those of you who do not understand what this illness is like.

At random moments, I will get this building worry and fear that something isn't right. Everything could be just perfectly fine, but my mind will trick itself into believing that something is wrong.

It will convince itself that my life is falling apart. I will worry about one thing one minute and talk 90 to nothing then start to worry about another thing. My mind constantly switches back and forth and will convince itself that things are worse than what they really are.

All the while, I'm trying so hard to calm myself down... but it is impossible.

It will send me into a depression. A depression that causes me to hate myself for being so crazy and irrational at times. This depression is the worst part. It causes me to want to space myself from the world and everyone around me. It causes me to feel alone with my illness, and it will cause me to be too terrified to talk those that are closest to me about what it is that I need from them.

I feel needy, and I'm repulsed. But I can't help it.

The hardest thing is for me to find peace with myself during the depression stage. Most times, it switches back to worry and will keep me up all night. Staying up all night causes me to feel irritable the next day, which in turn causes those around me to steer clear. Which in turn causes me to go right back into depression and battle myself for being mentally ill.

You see, there's something those of you who don't suffer from anxiety need to understand: WE CAN'T CONTROL IT.

No, it doesn't make us crazy. We don't need you to tell us that we are acting crazy. We are already well aware of this and telling us that will only make our condition worse.

It will come at the most inconvenient times. When it happens, just please be patient and understanding with us. The attack will eventually pass, and when it does, we'll be back to normal. The worst thing you could do is bring up anything we were previously worried about.

Doing so will only trigger another attack. Understand that it's you and us vs. the illness. We hate it, you hate it, we're on the same team here. The best thing you can do during an attack is to just listen, and know that there are times we need you to hold us, and times we need you to leave us alone. Know that sometimes you'll be the trigger for the attack.

Don't take it personally. And please, for the sake of humanity, don't tell us that we're overreacting, that we need to calm down, or that worrying isn't going to make anything any better. If we could stop worrying, don't you think we would have already?

Dating someone with an anxiety disorder isn't easy, at all. It requires giving that person a lot of attention that you normally wouldn't have to do. That doesn't mean the sufferer constantly needs you to be stuck up his or her butt 24/7, but it does mean that when he or she is under attack you need to be there.

If someone you love is having an anxiety attack, ask them what they need. Most of the time they know what they need from you to help make it better, but they're too scared to tell you. Let them know that you genuinely want to help in any way that you can, and be okay with it if they tell you nothing and to just listen. Get to know their illness better.

Everyone's anxiety disorder is different.

Try to understand what it's like to have absolutely no control over your mind, and be there for that person. They need you most when they feel as though they have turned on themselves.


If you or someone you know is battling an anxiety disorder, seek help.

Cover Image Credit: ankor2 / Flickr

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Living With Anxiety In A World That Romanticizes Mental Illness

Being stuck inside your own head is actually a disease and not something to romanticize.

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The older I get, the more anxiety takes a huge toll on my life. I worry about time, I worry about money, I worry about becoming sick; there is not a moment where I am not worried about something. Lately, it seems as though everyone in college has "anxiety." But, in reality, this is not the case.

Yes, you can be anxious about something. Anxiety is a normal human emotion, but becoming anxious over a test or a first date is not the same thing as being chronically anxious. Twitter nowadays is filled with people saying something is "giving them anxiety." I can't speak for everyone, but I am tired of hearing people complain about anxiety when the actual illness is debilitating and horrifying to live with.

I have a hard time explaining what anxiety actually feels like to people that don't experience it. It's hard to describe. Just imagine going anywhere and having terrible thoughts consuming your mind to the point where you start shaking, your heart rate is through the roof, and you just want to go cry.

There are certain things that I get more anxious about than others. For example, I am an extreme hypochondriac, so I get overly anxious about sicknesses, heart problems, and everything under the sun related to health. It becomes a very hard obstacle to overcome during a time in my life where stress is already built up from school-related things, work, and relationships.

I think people have a misunderstanding about what anxiety actually is. It's not just a mental health issue, it's a physical one, too. Anxiety can start in the mind, but then create symptoms in your respiratory, circulatory, digestive, and every other system you have in your body. It's not something that people should take lightly; it actually affects a person's well-being to the extreme.

I hate speaking on a topic that is so misunderstood, but as I have gotten older, this has gotten much worse. I can't go a single day without feeling uncomfortable and never content with my life, and more people need to learn about what anxiety actually is. It should not be joked about, should not be romanticized, and should not be shamed. I don't wish this mental illness upon anyone, and anyone that is going through this themselves, please seek help. I know from personal experience it is not easy.

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