The goth girl sitting alone in the cafeteria, the middle aged mom who can’t get out of bed, the overworked boss whose frazzled demeanor makes everyone clam up in their cubicles. Friends, anxiety isn’t always properly depicted in an after-school special.
My anxiety doesn’t usually look like what most would anticipate or expect.
My anxiety looks like horrible stomach trouble when I even think about something that makes me anxious.
It looks like insomnia basically always because my mind never slows past turbo speed as it plays an endless loop of to-do’s, un-done’s, and what-if’s.
My anxiety looks like planning ahead, making lists, writing eleventy post-it notes and still feeling like I messed something up…and always, ALWAYS, beating myself up for it.
It looks like imagining the worst will happen, and never being able to enjoy when life is going well because you are just waiting for something bad to happen.
And sometimes, should I forget to take my tiny white pill–the one that took me years to discover, accept, and be willing to admit that I needed–my anxiety looks like rage.
Tonight, I was straight up stabby, y’all.
My anxiety rarely leads to depressive moods and has only once turned into a panic attack. But tonight, all because my son picked up something that wasn’t his, I snapped.
Friend, I went zero to hostage situation in a hot minute. I imagine this is what people who get blackout drunk and try to fight someone must experience.
In an instant, I exploded with a monster mom voice and yelled at my kid.
Should he have messed with stuff? No.
Have I said the same exact thing to him no less that a bazillion times? Absolutely.
But did he deserve my reaction? Definitely not.
Friends, this is less of an admonition of guilt–though I suppose it is that, also–and more of a warning and a lesson for anyone who reads it.
We don’t all suffer the same.
Some people have debilitating anxiety that DOES keep them in bed or at home. Others bottle and stuff what bothers them. Still some fight feelings of overwhelm with addictive behaviors.
None of our versions of pain are wrong or better or worse than the next. They are just different.
So ask questions. Check on your strong friends. And never assume that everything is good just because your questions are met with an, “I’m fine”.
We all need each other and the more honest and transparent we become about our mental health, the more our stories become lifelines for someone else to feel strong enough to reach out.