So something a little more heavy this week, I’m going to vent about what it’s like to have anxiety. Now some of you maybe rolling your eyes going “argh”, but the rest of you will understand, or at least try to understand.
So picture a balloon. Any colour, blue, black, pink, green. It’s like you’re a kid again, trying to blow it up with all your might, but no matter how hard you exhale it does nothing more than collect your saliva and make a fart noise. Then mum, or dad, or your older sibling blow it up for you. Yeah you got what you wanted, a plastic sack of breath, but you didn’t achieve it. You couldn’t do it. Your best wasn’t good enough, and you needed someone better to fix your problems. But in this picture, the balloon, is anxiety. Sometimes there’s a particularly hard breath that blows it up, making it expand an stretch beyond what seems possible. And other times, it just lays there, floppy and a reminder of what it can do. You can see it, you can feel it, but it’s only small. A balloon isn’t much when it’s empty. But when it’s blown up, it can pop, it can fly away, it can cause smiles, or celebration. It can do anything if you let it, just like anxiety.
Sometimes, the balloon sits inside your chest, smothering your vital organs: your heart, your lungs. And it’s expanding, but your chest is tightening, and you can’t breath. Am I having a heart attack? Has my lung collapsed? Have I broken a rib? No. Others might say “it’s all in your head”, and whilst that might be true, it’s not something we can fix easily. Anxiety is a mental illness, it’s not some light excuse to not go to work or to need time off. Anxiety is a tiny devil on your shoulder, it can make you do rash things, and it can control your thoughts. Sometimes it can even lead you to the darkest corners of your brain, with the promise that “it will be better here”. Anxiety is a monster who constantly lies, “they are watching you”, “you are a failure”, “no one would care if you left”. It’s uncontrollable, it can’t be stopped, it can only be held at bay for a little while, before something, or someone causes it to burst back in.
I’m sure you have at least a visual now of what it’s like to feel anxiety internally, but when it attacks you, when it causes you to have a physical reaction, that is when it’s the worst. When it makes you cry, and shake from head to toe. When you start hyperventilating and you feel like you’re going to vomit. Your head is pounding and you can feel your pulse in your finger tips, toes, and temple. You’re freezing, but sweating. And you can’t think straight. You can’t stop it, it just keeps ragging on until, finally, after what feels like an eternity, you catch your breath, the tears slow down and you’re left feeling light headed and exhausted. You think you might pass out, but that thought alone takes so much effort it makes your skull pound.
Anxiety isn’t a little thing that should be used lightly. It’s not an excuse, or a reason to get out of work. It’s a mental illness, and it’s crippling. Anxiety, much like depression when brought up in discussion, is often shrugged off, or awkwardly silenced because people don’t know how to handle it. Or how to act around people who are affected by it. But I’ll let you in on a secret. Don’t ignore it. Don’t let someone suffer in silence because you’re afraid it will be an awkward conversation, or will make them feel weird. Because, chances are, they are mentally begging you to ask how they are, or if their okay. It may be a mental illness, but we’re not crazy. We’re not any less of a person than you are, and we need you to understand. You’ll never know what it’s really like unless that demon sits on your shoulder, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemies, but try. Try and sympathise, try and understand. Try and help, be supportive. Because you never know how someone feels. You never know their internal wars, or their everyday struggles. You never know.
Talk to you later,