I told someone new about my anxiety disorder recently. I don't believe it's shameful or embarrassing, but I don't offer it up to people very often because it's hard to wrap words around. He sat and looked at me and asked “What was that like for you when you were diagnosed? How did it feel?” And I wanted to share with him. I want to share here too.
  1. I talk about it easier now. I don't feel like it's a purpled bruise in the center of my chest.
  2. Each day felt like like someone was blowing a fog machine directly in my face.
    I was choking on the fumes but I refused to move, couldn't move.
  3. I’d go to bed just to lie there awake and motionless; horrible, horrible thoughts coursing through my brain.
    No off button, no falling asleep, no easy out. Endless minutes later, the sun would eke through the blinds and I’d still be there, awake, blurry and pinned down to my mattress by my thoughts.
  4. I’d eat breakfast and immediately throw up, my body rejecting anything good.
    I was all nerve endings, my skin constantly vibrating.
  5. The best way I can describe it is that it felt like I was the enemy and I was fighting myself.
  6. I thought I’d never know a shred of goodness again.
    When you can’t see the point, you start to believe there is no point. The point is what you make it and when you can’t make anything, when you can’t seem to be glib and rub small moments together and make a tiny comforting fire anymore, that’s a scary place to be.
  7. I didn’t know I had an anxiety disorder. These things don’t come with a helpful manual.
    Googling my symptoms (forgetting how to breathe, ringing ears, insomnia, nausea, vertigo, a general sense of creeping dread at all times) just scared me more.
  8. I kept a notebook during the weeks I was first grappling with my anxiety and page after page contains stuff like this:
    "I want this to be perfect so I don’t dare begin." // "I’m scared of writing because then I have to articulate thoughts that I’d rather not think." // "My need for perfection is this weird latent thing. I think it keeps me from even being honest with myself. But how do I know what honest is if everything I tell myself is already edited by some inner voice before it makes it to my conscious thought? Do you just go round and round and round trying to be authentic?"
  9. I remember being in my mom’s car in the parking lot of the psychiatrist’s office and crying hysterically because I was terrified.
    Because to get out of the car and go inside would be to admit defeat. And I couldn’t do it. I begged to go back home. She held my hands in hers and told me that whatever I did, whatever happened, it was okay, I was still me under everything.
  10. I didn't believe her, but I trusted her and so we went in.