Too many people are unsuspected of suffering anxiety and depression.
My daughter is a kind, helpful, happy, talkative young woman. She’s a pharmacy technician, so every day she interacts with patients, both face to face and over the phone. My girl is brilliant–everyone LOVES her. I’m a proud mama.
Despite outward appearance, Nicole is an introvert. And she lives with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Her friends have long accepted Nicole for who she is, and they don’t get uptight when she chooses to stay in on weekends; and when she is out, they don’t question her when she suddenly feels the need to go home.
Before her diagnosis, Nicole had tried a few medications that were no help at all. She’s living on her own now, but before she moved out, I spent many nights in bed with her. She would wake me in the middle of the night, frantic, sobbing, screaming. “It hurts so much,” she’d say. Fuck. Words fail me…
The first time I ever held my baby in my arms, I never thought I’d have to ask her, “Do you ever think about hurting yourself?”
Anxiety, a lot of the time is trivialized. “Just breathe.” “Don’t think about it.” “It’s not a big deal.” “What’s the worst that could happen?” “You’re over-reacting.”
I want to punch these people in their junk. That’s an immature thing to say; I admit it. But I would punch everyone who makes light of anxiety in their junk if it meant they’d gain some fucking respect. Because people like my Nicole deserve respect. My daughter wakes up every morning in battle mode; every moment in her day-to-day is spent over-analyzing herself, and every one else. Imagine how exhausting it is to be someone who lives with an anxiety disorder.
Most days, Nicole does well. There are things unexpected however, that set her spinning. This past Saturday, she was asked to foster a cat called Louie; Louie’s owner is going to basic training until the end of summer. She didn’t anticipate such a violent greeting from her kitty, Minerva. This was one of those things that set her off. She called me, and I went to her immediately. Without going into detail no one cares about, we figured something out that worked well for everyone involved.
The point I want to make is that our loved ones with anxiety need our support and encouragement. They need to know we BELIEVE them, and believe IN them. Our loved ones don’t need, or want useless platitudes. Most times, all they want is to know they are being heard. Because…trust me…they are aware that their thoughts and worries are irrational–totally invented by a relentless monster.
Be loving. Just…be loving. And seek help when they need it–they DO need it, and so do you. Educate yourselves to be the best support for them.