It’s easy to say you understand how someone with anxiety must feel when they tell you how much they struggle. It’s another thing to witness the anxiety first hand and understand. Over the years I’ve become pretty good at hiding it. Distracting myself from what’s going on, smiling through the struggle, changing the topic of conversation or walking away from a situation to get a grip and take a few deep breaths.
This past weekend someone who said they understood got upset with me when I quietly disappeared from the group to calm down. I didn’t hurt anyone, I wasn’t rude, I just needed to take a break. I sensed this person was upset with me so I asked what was going on. “What is giving you anxiety? This should take away your anxiety. You missed moments you should’ve been there for.” At that point I realized that no one really understands what it’s like to have generalized anxiety but the people who have it. I was hurt because I thought this person maybe understood me. But I wasn’t mad. How could I be? I know it’s hard to comprehend. I don’t expect you to understand what I’m going through. But I do expect you to respect me and not make me feel even worse about having it. It’s embarassing that I even have to walk away. Everyone is having fun. I’m having fun too. Until I start to get anxiety. Having an invisible illness sucks. I don’t want to miss anything. I don’t want to feel this way. Every day is a struggle. Don’t make me feel like a crazy person when I need a breather. Thanks.