Anxiety Lifestyle

Dear Anxiety,

I want to expose you. I want people to understand what you are really like. I want them to see your good side, to see that you do have some really great qualities. I want them to see how you keep me organized, how you help me meet deadlines, how you keep my bedroom and bathroom immaculately clean, how you make my work precise, and how you help me strive to be the best that I can be.

I want them to know how scientific you are. I want them to know how fight or flight works. How, when in the face of danger, you speed up heart rate and adrenaline, you tense muscles, you prepare the body to fight and then, subsequently, you slow down the digestive tract, and you slow down immune system function because that’s how you turn human bodies super-human. In this way, you help women rescue their children from life threatening danger. You make men strong enough to lift cars off of their brothers. You help humans fight for survival.

But I also want them to see the bad side of you. The ugly side. What happens to you when you perceive too many things as dangerous. When you take over my mind. When you make me think I’m doing something wrong, when in reality, I’m not. Ironically, for something that makes super-human strength possible, you make me afraid to be human: to be stuck in traffic, to tip a hairdresser, to misspell a word in an email, to do something wrong, to mess something up. You make me physically ill. Some of the small things are okay, they don’t hurt me: the heart palpitations, the numb hands and feet, the shortness of breath, the mild digestive problems, I don’t even mind when they come when I least expect it. It’s okay. I don’t expect you to be perfect. But when you believe that I’m in danger 24/7 you pile everything on me. Big time. This is no fault of your own, it’s what you are supposed to do, but Anxiety, I can’t be super-human every single day. Humans weren’t meant to fight/flight every minute of every day. Our bodies can’t handle that. My body can’t handle that. You speed up my heart rate when there’s no need to run, you tense all my muscles when there’s no need to fight, you run adrenaline through my body even though I’m simply sitting down to study. It’s a lot to handle: the seven palpitations in 24 hours, the feeling of physical suffocation before I sleep, the muscle tension, the fatigue, the dizziness and ringing in my ears, the persistently aggressive nausea, the digestive failure and immune system weakening. Then, when I’m really vulnerable, you attack. In full force. Not like the panic attacks that high schoolers talk about when they didn’t study for a test, but one of debilitating fear, one that takes such a hard toll on your body both mentally and physically. Fifteen minutes of an attack and I’m exhausted. You drain me. People mistake it for laziness, for adolescent exhaustion, for overreacting, but you exhaust me and my entire system. You make me upset that people don’t understand. You confuse biology…in a way that can’t always be understood at face value.

I know I have to give a little, I know I’m still the instigator, and I know that is isn’t just you. I know that everyone has to deal with you to a certain extent, but when you infiltrate my brain, sometimes it can be a little overwhelming. Just be patient with me, please? Help me out a bit? If this relationship is going to work, we have to work on it together. Help me live harmoniously with you. Help me to help others who suffer from you too. Help me to make those who don’t understand understand. Help me to speak out about you to give strength to those who you render too afraid to conquer you. Help me write about you to make people realize that this is real. You are real. And while everyone is fighting a hard battle, right now you are mine, and I’m hoping one day we can make peace.

Sincerely,

Me 


(This post was originally written on February 2nd, 2013 on my tumblr.)

 

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