Every day there are people all over the world silently suffering from mental illness.
Many are undiagnosed, suffering but unaware of what the route of the problem really is. Other have been diagnosed and know exactly what triggers them.
Mental illness comes in many forms and has many symptoms. Everyone is affected differently and no one symptom is the same for each and every person.
Sometimes you have to hear about it directly from the person suffering to fully understand what it is that they deal with each day.
This is my anxiety as told by me.
My anxiety is receiving a compliment about how organized and well put together my daughters birthday party is but being unable to accept it because all I can focus on is the things I didn’t do, the ways it didn’t come together, the parts that didn’t work.
My anxiety is my husband coming home early from work but instead of happy, I feel upset because I didn’t prepare dinner, I didn’t pick up the house, I wasn’t ready for this.
My anxiety is keeping routines, doing the same things on the same days because then I will know what to expect and when to expect it – being able to avoid the unknown challenges I could face is I venture out of my routine.
My anxiety is sitting somewhere thinking about who would take care of our kids, where would they go, what would happen to them if this plane went down, car crashed, or if I simply fell, hit my head, and died.
My anxiety is toe tapping, leg shaking, nail biting, skin picking. All the tics.
My anxiety is constantly cleaning, organizing, putting things away to stay busy. Never relaxing. Must. Always. Be. Busy. Not being busy makes me feel lazy and feeling lazy drives me crazy.
My anxiety is thinking about conversations I had years ago, replaying conversations after I have them, analyzing and overanalyzing every word of it. Did they really mean it that way? Was there a secret meaning?
My anxiety is agreeing to do things that I may not want to do because I am afraid if I say no, the person asking will no longer like me. Never give them a reason not to like you.
My anxiety is saying yes to events then spending the day of making excuses to get out of it. I can’t go somewhere without my husband and kids, maybe it isn’t a good idea, should I really spend the money to do that. The cycle of doubts.
My anxiety is over talking, chattering nervously wanting to appear as though I’m fine. Making small talk so I seem happy, upbeat, like I have lots of things to talk about and plenty to say.
My anxiety is constant reassurance. Always needing to hear that I am doing a good job or that I am a good friend or that I am loved because in my mind, I am none of those things.
My anxiety is ducking from the ball my husband playfully throws to me while playing with my kids. You miss and it is laughable, you joke about it and try again. I miss it and I see it as an embarrassment. How could I miss it? What is wrong with me? This means never doing things like playing pin the tail on the donkey, never swinging at the party pinatas, never learning to whistle or jump rope or do a cartwheel.
My anxiety is being tired all the time because I don’t sleep well. Ever. I lay awake overthinking those conversations from years ago, from today, in the future. Wondering if something bad will happen tomorrow, if I am failing miserably at everything I do, counting all the things I have to do and didn’t today.
My anxiety is sometimes snapping at my kids, or those around me, because when they get upset – I get overwhelmed and haven’t learned to handle it calming.
My anxiety is shaking your hand firmly but looking away from you because making eye contact isn’t easy.
My anxiety is making lists for anything and everything. Things that don’t necessarily require lists.
My anxiety is hoarding things that I don’t need. Magazines that I bought for myself, with my own money, at 16 years old, because I was afraid I wouldn’t always be able to do that. Notes from high school friends because I didn’t know if I would ever have friends like those. Receipts from things my husband bought for me because I couldn’t believe someone would buy me gifts like he did, as often as he did.
My anxiety is always apologizing. For things I do, things I don’t do, even things I cannot control like to my husband because it is raining and rain causes slow days at work then apologizing for apologizing.
My anxiety is counting steps as I walk up them, how many times I shook my leg while sitting down at a table, recounting cash before checking out at a register. Counting keeps my mind busy.
My anxiety is appearing to be successful but always feeling like there is room for improvement, always feeling like it isn’t enough. It appears that I have lots of things going on at all times, things I’m managing and doing a good job at but the success never feels like success.
My anxiety is seeming calm to everyone around me. I look fine, I act fine, I have great things going on around me, I have things to keep busy and people who want to be around me. But inside, I am not always that calm.
My anxiety is thinking that everyone around me doesn’t actually like me, they’re just tolerating me.
Some of these symptoms play off of the other diagnosis of mild OCD, so the list isn’t completely isolated to one illness.
But there is a reason that high functioning anxiety is called “a secret anxiety” and that is because its symptoms just make the person suffering appear to be successful, prepared, organized, but there is so much more to it.
This is only some of the ways that I suffer each day.
Over time, recently mostly, I have learned what triggers me and how to cope. It isn’t always easy and my poor husband suffers the consequences daily.
I have very productive days where I go on about all that I did and how proud I am. I keep myself busy and accomplish all that is on my list. I feel great.
But, I also have days where I text him about how I don’t feel like I have a real purpose in life outside of “mom” and “wife”. I don’t complete anything on my to do list because I sat on the couch all day instead then I apologize over and over for “doing nothing” and feel useless for the rest of the day. I don’t sleep because I feel bad for him that THIS is the wife he chose and hate myself.
And the next day I wake up and wait to see what kind of day it is.
But I am trying to figure out what treatment works for me. If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental illness please know that we are trying our best – we just need your love and patience while we navigate this life.
To my husband, I appreciate every manic moment that you calm, every encouraging word you send my way when I am feeling down, and every patient moment you show when I am being more difficult than usual. I love you fiercely.