I wrote this to raise awareness about anxiety disorders and the impact they may have on relationships. Please do not continue to read if you believe reading about someone's thoughts during a panic attack may trigger you, or if you do not wish to read something with harsh language. This letter contains my unfiltered thoughts during an anxiety attack and may upset some due to the dark nature of it. Please read with caution.
I have been battling anxiety disorders and depression since adolescence. It makes a lot of things hard- even the little tasks everyone has to complete each day. It especially makes maintaining friendships and relationships difficult. I have found it within me over the past year to talk about my anxiety with those close to me, but there is still so much about it that I find myself holding back. Admitting how anxious I am feeling and allowing others in while I am experiencing a panic attack is anxiety inducing on its own and the most vulnerable I feel like I can possibly be. Unfortunately, my boyfriend is the one that gets the worst of it. The impact anxiety and depression can have on a relationship is great. It is especially difficult for a significant other to truly understand what is going through our heads when we are having an anxiety attack if they don't experience them. This past week I read the article: “This Article Was Written Mid-Anxiety Attack” and it really resonated with me and inspired me to share my experience to hopefully enlighten those in a relationship with someone with anxiety or depression.
During my anxiety attack, I wrote this letter to my boyfriend:
I feel like the worst person in the entire world right now for constantly leaning on you. I should be able to do this on my own. I’m 22 years old. You would think I could with all the years I’ve fucking dealt with this. But no, I can’t. I feel inadequate. I hate feeling inadequate. I am inadequate. I can’t do anything.
I can’t breathe.
I know this is hard on you and that kills me. Knowing that truth confirms my worst fear of being a burden. I know I am a burden to you. I’m a burden to everyone.
My heart won’t slow down.
You keep trying to tell me how great I am. It makes me sick to my stomach. It makes me feel worse, not better. That kills me, too. That every attempt you make to comfort me just makes me worse. How fucking terrible is that for you? Damn it. What is wrong with me? It makes me feel worse because I know you believe all of those things about me. It makes me feel like I am fooling you, manipulating you into loving me and thinking I’m someone I’m not. I’m not that person you say I am. I am pathetic and sad. I am over-dramatic. I am nothing.
I really can’t breathe.
I’m not good enough for you. You should know that. I wish you understood. I love you so fucking much and I know you don’t deserve this bullshit I put you through so much. You are capable of anything. You have no fear. If you do, you get over it. You aren’t scared of being late or not knowing the time. You aren’t scared of what people think. You aren’t scared of people always looking at you and being disappointed and disgusted by you. I want to be like you, but I never will be. You deserve someone like you.
I don’t deserve you.
I know everyone sees it, too. They think I’m disgusting and pathetic. I can’t even go to the gym without panicking first. I can’t go a day without shaking and being sick to my stomach before class. I can’t go a week without sleepless nights over the next day, just because I am scared I might be late or have a change in my routine. What if I have a pop quiz? What if someone says “hi” to me on the way to class I don’t normally talk to? What if my hands are shaking so much I can’t put on makeup? Then I’ll look ugly and stupid. What if I can’t make it to class? What if I can’t get out of bed? What if I fail my midterm? What if I eat too much? What if I don’t make it to the gym? I won’t because I’m pathetic. I always will be. What if I disappoint you? What if you realize tomorrow, or tonight, just how terrible I am?
I hate myself. You should, too.
I am so fucking sorry. I am so sorry I do this. I am so sorry I am a burden to you. You keep saying you won’t leave, but you should. But if you leave, it will crush me. I am so scared you will leave. That makes me selfish. You shouldn’t have to stay with me. Fuck. I hate myself. I hate myself.
I hate myself.
I won’t be okay tonight. You say I will, I won’t this time. I swear it’s worse than the other times. My heart won’t stop. I think the people in the hall can hear it. I think they can hear my hyperventilating. They must think I’m so fucking weird. They hate me, too.
This time, it’s really it. I think I'm going to die this time. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I really can’t breathe.
If you love someone with anxiety: please know that we do not control it. We do not do it to hurt you or make your life difficult. We wish it wasn't a part of us- but it is. We know that we are often being irrational and that only makes us feel worse.
My anxiety is managed well. I attend counseling and have an amazing support system. I am OK- it may not seem like it after reading this, but I am. Most of that is due to the support I receive. This is just what goes on in my head during an anxiety attack. Those of us with anxiety disorders experience this regularly, sometimes multiple times a day. If someone you love is struggling with an anxiety disorder or depression, please seek to understand them. This means more than you will ever know.
If you are personally experiencing anxiety or depression and need help, please contact this anxiety hotline, or seek help from a medical professional or counselor.