- 1,2 & 3
Usually panic attacks release a lot of tension for me, but Tuesday’s did no such thing. I’m left with that tight feeling in my throat and my quick temper. I’m easily annoyed and easily saddened. I feel unappreciated and ignored, mostly by my family, and while I strive to keep my head above water, it’s difficult being unsupported and struggling. Every little tweak of my muscle I attribute to some disease; I start reading into things online that I come across coincidentally. If I see certain words or phrasings I’ll be certain they’re telling me I’m going to die tonight and therefore, even though I’m dead beat, I won’t be going to sleep any time soon.
I’m constantly searching across my skin for signs of my death. My right calf has been sore all day and I’ve been searching for signs of it swelling and convincing myself minute differences between it and my left one means it is swollen.
It’s not. What could a swollen calf mean? A lot of things. A lot of bad things. Of course.
My brain doesn’t think to attribute it to the fact that I’ve been in bed for the majority of the last 72 hours because of the food poisoning, or the fact that my bed is two 10+ year old mattresses on the floor and therefore sinks in the middle and causes some serious pain to my hips and back and shoulders often. So why wouldn’t it cause issues with my right calf, the side I sleep on and lay on most often, as well?
Most of the time I can get in touch with my rationality and argue against these thoughts but there are other times where I’m stuck in the paranoia of the moment and spend my night on full alert, fidgeting, waiting for death or whatever bad thing the omens I’ve seen throughout the day will bring. It’s like anxieties’ more mild, not entirely delusional version of Ideas of Reference. You’re completely engulfed by the sensations, by the thoughts, and even if you get a small second thought telling you “no, this isn’t right”, you’re more likely to submit to the churning feeling in your gut and the racing thoughts in your head.
Sometimes, in those moments, if you’re in the outside world and you talk to me, I’ll respond blankly and uninterested. That’s when people find me the most strange. It’s only because they don’t see the chaos in my head.
I’ve always received sympathy for my depression. Not that I want it, but it’s how people think they should react. Some try to comfort me. I’ve never had anyone completely ignore me when I was depressed. When I’m anxious–that’s a whole different story.
I used to spend days proctoring thought experiments about this. What would be different if I suffered psychotic symptoms instead? If people could visibly see or hear the symptoms? Obviously they’d end up being terrified of me, and they’d stigmatize the shit out of me, but they would know something isn’t right.
When you’re depressed, you might move slower or talk slower. Your eyes may droop (mine do, at least) or you might be easily set off into tears. You might not get out of bed.
If you suffer from OCD, you have your rituals and your repetitive behaviors and even though your loved ones can’t see the horrible pressure you feel in your head, they can see the result of it. How they choose to interpret seeing those results is up to them; but the bottom line is they see it.
Anxiety is different. The only time anyone ever sees the severity of my anxiety is through my panic attacks. And only my mother and father have witnessed my severe attacks. No one has ever seen any physical or tangible representations of the circular reasoning, of the way I get trapped within a whirlwind of extraneous thoughts my loose grip can no longer control. They become a life of their own and knock me to their knees until I am submissive and silent and bending at their will. Thoughts are the most powerful force on Earth.
Because people have trouble understanding experiences which they’ve never, well . . . experienced, they have trouble acknowledging how hard it is to experience those experiences. They have nothing to use as a reference besides themselves. And anxiety in the average person is pretty damn mild.
I am uncomfortable expressing myself verbally because of a few reasons:
- I know how ridiculous it sounds to their ears.
- I was never taught how to express myself verbally. I was taught to suck it up.
- I’ll sound like a broken fucking record after a few times.
- I don’t like criticism and most people I’ve spoken with react badly to explanations of mental health related issues.
- Writing is easier. But it’s not like anyone gives a shit.
So I spend a lot of my days feeling disrespected. I use humor as a shield, because a lot of people think it’s easier to make a joke out of things when I tell them what I experience rather than take it seriously. And as a result, people don’t take anything I say seriously.
I start to develop a selfish mentality after a while: it’s all about me!
Because it’s never been about me. At home I’m a caretaker and I have been since I was a pre-teen. With acquaintances I’m a comedian and a shoulder to lean on. At school I’m the silent girl who manages to skate through classes without an ounce of willing verbal participation.
I don’t truly want the entire world to revolve around me and my wants and my needs, I just want to feel respected and for someone in the tiny circle of people who know about my issues with self-harm, with suicidal thoughts, with anxiety, with depression, with breakdowns, with Post Traumatic Stress, with anger, with moodiness, to admit I deal with a lot more than they might have first thought. I want them to acknowledge that I’ve been stronger than they might have first thought.
I know I’m strong. I’ll always be strong. I want to be around people who will help me stay strong, not beat me down.