Story By Caitlin Paroczai
Hello anxiety, we meet again.
That is how I like to greet my anxiety when it rears its annoying, formidable head. I don’t pull on my running shoes and make a break for it anymore, I face it head on. Acknowledge its presence, instead of slamming the door in its face. Most of the time, giving it recognition is helpful. It receives the recognition it wants, and it goes away. Other times, it reminds me it is not going anywhere.
If you are reading this and think I’m way too old for an imaginary friend, you have probably never suffered from an anxiety disorder. I am sure other people with anxiety, whatever kind of anxiety that may be, will understand this internal struggle and personification all too well.
I hope you have sought help to support you through your journey. I have invested a lot of time, energy and money in receiving treatment for my anxiety disorder. It has been worth it. I have gotten better.
But that does not mean life cannot feel downright exhausting at times.
In fact, I think it is because I have put so much hard work into improving my mental health that it annoys me so much when people make ignorant comments about it. I have not put myself through all of this ‘self-development’ for you to shove your preconceived mental health stigma up my ass.
I have had people tell me not to feel sorry for myself. Well, you know what? Sometimes I do. I am not afraid to admit that. Why shouldn’t I? Who wants to live their life with their crappy pal, anxiety, unexpectedly knocking at their door when they are trying to get shit done? NOT ME.
So, anxiety sufferers, let’s have a pity party. Here are five super annoying things that only people in our tribe understand.
When people question why you can do certain things but not others
Pretty much everyone in my life has probably heard me rant about this. Performing is one of my favourite things in the world. I feel better performing to a large crowd than having to hang out with a group of people. That is just me. However, if you make me sit at a busy restaurant for too long, I am going to get seriously anxious.
People have genuinely asked me, without any hesitation, “how can you perform in front of so many people, but you can’t have dinner at a restaurant?”. Hmm… I don’t know, Jane, you tell me. I understand that it does not make logical sense. But that is just anxiety. It is not logical.
When you really WANT to do something, but you genuinely can’t
Ugh, I know this one all too well. You have made plans or been invited to an event at the end of the week. You have punched it into your diary. You have been looking forward to it all week. The day finally arrives, and you are a wreck. You still want to go, but you know pushing yourself too hard will have consequences.
“But you have been happy all week… I guess you just didn’t want to go.” NO, JANE. I wanted to go! But anxiety is unpredictable, and it makes you miss out on a lot of things.
When your boss does not take your anxiety disorder seriously
This a big one that seriously needs more attention. I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to decide whether or not to disclose to your boss that you suffer from an anxiety disorder. It is even more difficult, however, when they do not take it seriously.
I like to compare anxiety to diabetes. If somebody told their boss they had diabetes, appropriate measures would be put into place to support them. Why should the same treatment not be given to someone with an anxiety disorder?
I do not even accept the justification that “you cannot see anxiety” anymore. If you are educated enough, you can see anxiety. It is written on the person’s face. It is in their posture. It is in their need to go for bathroom breaks every hour. Perhaps the real issue here is educating workplaces on how best to support staff with mental health issues.
When people say you’re using your anxiety disorder to get attention
This is not even annoying, it is just plain offensive. Trust me, if I could smack anxiety into oblivion, I would. The fact of the matter is, if you are a chronic sufferer, it just gets more difficult to hide from your loved ones and peers.
When people tell you to stop worrying
HAHA. Omg. Stop worrying? Look, I would if I could mate. I try really hard to control my racing thoughts. But if I am worrying about something and you tell me not to… prepare for one piercing death stare.
I would like to point out that if you have said any of the above things to someone with anxiety, I do not want you to feel bad. It is nearly impossible to understand it if you have not been through it yourself.
And for the people who do relate to this… you are amazing. You are resilient, courageous and the world is a far more empathetic place because of you.
If you or someone you know needs help dealing with anxiety visit Beyond Blue