I normally only post about once a week so I don’t come off as a whiny jerk but an event occurred yesterday that really got under my skin. The result is this post.

Yesterday on Twitter I had someone tell me that having anxiety was my fault and implied that I could stop it if I wanted. It’s nothing new, I’ve been told this before and usually shrug it off as some twatwaffle who has no clue what mental illness is like. It usually occurs to me that if I’d been a soldier, I’d be expected to be a bit twitchy. Apparently a history of abuse isn’t enough of an excuse.

So, I came up with a demonstration of what a typical conversation is like with the average person when I’m having an anxiety attack. While the following dialogue is a metaphor, it’s pretty close to what happens.

Me: <WAIL!>
Other Person: What’s wrong?
Me: A hair’s out of place!
Other Person: So? It’s just a hair.
Me: But it’s out of place!
Other Person: Just ignore it. No one will notice.
Me: You don’t understand! It’s out of place. <WAIL!>
Other Person: What a drama queen. It’s your own fault it’s out of place, you know. Just fix it.
Me: I can’t.
Other Person: Holy crap! Way to play the victim. You just don’t want to take responsibility for your own hair.
Me: That’s not true. I’d fix it if I could but I can’t.
Other Person: I’m so tired of your drama. It’s just a hair. Get over it. I’m out of here.
Me: Please just help me….

I do, however, have a dear friend who is so sweet that a conversation with him is very different. This man, whom I’ll call X, embodies positive thinking. He can take anything and turn it into an upbeat situation. I don’t know how he does it but it makes a world of difference to me. X is eternally calm and not even texting him 20 times in a half hour ruffles his feathers. He doesn’t even mind being my safe place to land during an anxiety attack. Our conversations are very different.

Me: <WAIL!>
X: What’s wrong?
Me: A hair’s out of place!
X: Which hair?
Me: I don’t know.
X: Okay, well, what would you like to do?
Me: Burn it. Make it go away.
X: <laughs> That’s a bit extreme. How about if we fix it? Would that work?
Me: <sniffle> Okay.
X: So where is it?
Me: I don’t know.
X: So let’s fix all the hairs until we get the right one.
Me: You don’t hate me?
X: Why would I hate you? To me it’s just a hair but to you it’s the entire world. I understand. It’s who you are. It’s a little tiring sometimes but I can only imagine what it’s like for you. It must be exhausting.
Me: It is. Thank you for fixing the hair.

Just as an end note, he really did tell me that he accepted me, anxiety and all. It’s a good feeling to know that there’s someone who gets it. I don’t expect everyone to be like him but realize that I can’t just turn this off to suit you. I hope that people read this and start to get a clue. Understand this, though, I am no longer going to apologize or explain my anxiety to  you if you refuse to try and understand. I am no longer ashamed of who I am.

Advertisements