I want to go home because I'm not feeling up to taking on the day. I'm having difficulty breathing, my body feels twitchy and uncomfortable, my head is tired, it's hard for me to concentrate, and my mind is not quite here. But I'm not sick with a cold, I'm dealing with anxiety. It is absolutely true to say I don't feel well, but because anxiety is something you can allegedly "take a deep breath and get over," I'm not "sick."

Well, I sure am "sick!" "Sick" and tired of being told to "take a deep breath," and that "it will pass," because my sickness is literally "all in my head." If I had a sore throat or a stuffy nose in addition to all of these symptoms, it would be grounds for taking the day off and curling up in my bed to go to sleep. Everyone would say, "your health is the priority. Go sleep it off, your body needs it's rest." So why is it that when I know all that my body wants right now is to curl up in the corner, eyes closed, and just a few hours to recuperate, I need to "chin up?"

Stop yelling at me, telling me to calm down or to stop acting ridiculous. Stop telling me that I just need to think about things differently. What exactly am I supposed to be doing differently when I'm not doing anything wrong in the first place? Yes, sometimes a clearly stressful situation is at the root of my symptoms, but sometimes it comes out of nowhere and slaps me upside the head, laughing in my face, taunting "you can't run, you can't hide."

I thought I had done enough to assure it wouldn't come, to make sure it couldn't find me, couldn't come get me like a monster seeking me out in the nighttime. I planned ahead, I completed all of my To-Dos, I spent my time doing things I love, with the people I feel most comfortable around. And yet it found me. How?! I was calm, I was taking steady breaths, I was thinking about things the "right" way, but here it is, scratching at my chest and shaking my insides.  My organs and soul are rattling around inside of me like some kind of earthquake that only I can feel, but you tell me to cut it out when I worry buildings may fall and bridges may break from all the rumbling, and all I can do is wipe my tears and smile, giving you the illusion that you've single handedly stilled the earth, because I know you won't shut up until you believe you've won.

And I know you have all the best intentions, and there is warmth in my heart, somewhere deep down inside, because I appreciate that you try.  But you're doing it wrong.  I'm sorry that I don't know how to do it right, though.  I'm sorry because you don't understand that sometimes everything is wrong.  Sometimes there is no way to correct it.  You grunt at me, because you just know there must be something that I can do, or you can say, to lurch my spinning head to a sudden halt.  Why wouldn't there be a way?  There's always an answer.  But you're wrong!  You can't just reach in and slap the stillness into me, and neither can I.

When I want to curl up into a ball because I know that's the only thing that will soften the rumbling, I wish you would let me.  But I know that's the "wrong" thing to do, that it's "childish" and "lazy."  So I smile and pretend that I'm just like you.  I know it makes you uncomfortable, and the last thing I want to do is bring disquiet into your head, too.  So I stand here and try my best to look casual.  I ignore the fact that I can't breathe, because if I take too many deep breaths you always notice.  I play with my hair or put my hands in my pockets or rub my palms with my fingers to keep myself still; even better if I can put them behind my back.

And when the admission of my anxiety slips out, or you learn that I'm going to therapy, you're so surprised.  How did you never know?  How did you never notice?  Well, it's obviously not a big deal, right?  Because you couldn't see it, like a scar or bloodshot eyes, it's clearly not so bad.  But you put on your pity face and shame me back to hell where I belong, and some of you even have the nerve to bring it up later, as if my inner rumbling is yours to toss around as you please.
You baby me: "I don't want to stress you out."
You mock me: "I can see you're having a hard time breathing - anxiety attacks?"
You compare me to others: "My friend has anxiety, too."
You think you know: "I get how you feel, I'm really busy at work and sometimes I just need a breather, too.  I feel like I'm going to explode."
But you prove that you really don't: "What, why?  Why do you feel _____?" (of course the honest answer, "I don't know" is not acceptable)

I don't have the energy for all of this!  But of course I won't be retreating to safety and comfort; instead I will stop wallowing by writing this post, and shake it off.  Then of course it will just pass on by, right?


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