Thursday, July 3, 2008


I spent a lot of years feeling ashamed of my anxiety. Feeling like it meant something was wrong with me deep down. Wondering if people would still like me if they knew. Even though I told my family and some close friends, I held these competing feelings of wanting to talk about what I was experiencing and also not making it a big deal.

The problem with not telling people, of course, is that it makes the anxiety monster that much bigger and higher maintenance. If it’s something you have to hide, then it must be pretty bad. And, eventually, you start feeling very alone.

It’s not the right time to talk about it, I would think. Or, I don’t want to get into it -- because how do you explain that fears, which sound utterly ridiculous, feel very real in a moment of panic. And, how do you also explain that anxiety is only a small part of you, even if it tries to act big and has a flair for the dramatic?

One time I disclosed to a friend and she joked, “Well, at least you don’t hear voices in your head. . . do you?”

After having anxiety under control for a long stretch of time, I experienced a really hard postpartum after my 3rd child. Part of what brought me out and helped me heal was sharing with others what I was going through. I can’t tell you how many people stepped up and either said, “Me too” or “I get it and I’m here.” One friend said, “I hope you take this the right way, but it just makes me feel so much better knowing that you’re dealing with the same stuff that I am. It makes me feel more normal and less alone.”

Maybe there’s a gift in this anxiety after all? If we can stand psychologically naked among each other, we realize that none of us are immune to life’s challenges – And, just knowing that we’re all in this crazy life together brings us strength and makes the road all the more manageable.


Dan said...

As a 40 year old man who only 2 months ago could barely leave my own house know all about shame and feeling belittled. I have many friends that have anxiety and we talk frequently about our concerns and wishes for an anxiety free life.

I have been asked to speak in front of large groups over the past 6 years and the first thing that I tell them is that I suffer from a panic disorder and I might faint, throw up, pass out and possibly use the bathroom in my pants, but I will still come back and speak. This usually frees me from my secret sickness that people seem not to be able to understand. They say how can you be afraid of going to the grocery store and what possible answer can I give that would make them understand.

Thank you for writing about this, I totally understand and I appreciate you taking the time to tell your story.

Anxiety Girl said...

Thanks for your comments. What courage you have to not only get up and speak in front of people, but to tell them up front about your anxiety. There's so much power and freedom in that. Imagine the impact for someone in the audience who gets educated about anxiety because of you or the person who feels more normal because you disclosed. Great work.

daynaday said...

I'm 18 and I tried to go to college in another state 3 hours from home. And I got there for the three day move in and I got way to much anxiety and didn't even act like myself. After two days my roommate told me I was weird and akward and she didn't wanna be my roommate anymore. All I could do was cry and my anxiety took over and I shut down. My grandma had to come get my the next day and I had to drop out because I couldn't handle college and I didn't even get to start. It was the worst and I still ain't doing any better. Its been sense september. :\