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What It's Like to Have an Anxiety Disorder

20 March 2013
My friend Owly found this for me today. I read it and cried. It is so accurate. Last night I had a two hour panic attack. Because the only thing I could think of was how awful I was as a parent and how mean I was to Sparrow when he was a little baby 2 year old. And then today all I could think about was how I was horrible because I was missing school from having a migraine due to the medication I took to help with the panic attack. Anxiety disorders suck. And it's important to note that not all disorders manifest the same way, which makes them a pain in the butt to treat.

Things we are trying to do all the time:

  • 1. be safe

things we can’t help but do all the time:

  • 1. second-guess ourselves
  • 2. behave impulsively and reactively
  • 3. take everything personally
  • 4. worry
  • 5. worry
  • 6. worry
  • 7. have difficulty accepting compliments
  • 8. have difficulty reciprocating friendly gestures
  • 9. have difficulty finding the courage to respond
  • 10. have difficulty not being suspicious of others’ intentions
  • 11. make a huge deal out of the smallest thing

things you should keep in mind:

  • 1. we’re scared of everything
  • 2. pretty much all of the time
  • 3. it’s an actual disorder
  • 4. it manifests as impulsive behavior
  • 5. you can’t fix us with words
  • 6. telling us “worrying is silly” won’t make us stop worrying
  • 7. it’ll only make us feel silly
  • 8. and then we’ll worry even more
  • 9. “oh god, am i worrying too much? what if she calls me silly again?”
  • 10. like that
  • 11. also, we wear a lot of armor
  • 12. cold, heavy, affection-proof armor with spikes
  • 13. we constructed this armor as children
  • 14. we’re fairly certain you will never be able to pry it apart
  • 15. but there is a nice person under there, we promise

things you can do for a friend with an anxiety disorder:

  • 11. they will obsess over how she is being interpreted
  • 12. they will anticipate being judged
  • 13. it took me four hours just to type this much
  • 14. even though i sound casual
  • 15. that’s because i have an anxiety disorder

things you shouldn’t do:

  • 1. tell us not to worry
  • 2. tell us we’ll be fine
  • 3. mistake praise for comfort
  • 4. ask us if we are “getting help”
  • 5. force us to be social
  • 6. force us to do things that trigger us
  • 7. “face your fears” doesn’t always work
  • 8. because—remember—scared of everything
  • 9. in fact, it would be more accurate to say we are scared of the fear itself

if you have an anxiety disorder:

  • 1. it’s okay.
  • 2. even if you worry that it’s not okay.
  • 3. it’s still okay. it’s okay to be scared. it’s okay to be scared of being scared.
  • 4. you are not crazy. you are not a freak.
  • 5. i know there’s a person under all that armor.
  • 6. and i know you feel isolated because of it.
  • 7. i won’t make you take it off.
  • 8. but know that you are not alone.

You are not alone.

4 comments to What It's Like to Have an Anxiety Disorder:

Andrea said...

Thanks for posting this. It's good to know I'm not alone. :)

Hannah Richins Beck said...

Hey Songbird!

I love this post. I only wish I could be closer so that when you are in a mood to be open, I could come hang out with you.

I am coming to Utah at the end of July with the little wee one (I can't wait for him to come). I want to get together with you. You think you are up for that?
Let me know. Love you!

Amber Barber said...

I suffer from the same thing as well, it's so good to know that you're not alone even though we know we're not alone, we still think we are... :/ we should get together sometime :)

Anna Marie said...

This was very enlightening for someone who doesn't really have any experience to speak of in this area. I really appreciate you taking the time to post this so others of us can understand this better.