A Letter To Our Loved Ones From Anxiety Sufferers
Dear Loved Ones,
We know that this is hard to understand. We know that living with someone with anxiety isn’t easy and this sometimes makes our relationships strained. We know that you have asked us how you can help, and we’ve given you nothing you can work with to actually help us. We even know that sometimes you think we’re being difficult, or that we don’t want your help, but please trust us, that’s not true. Sometimes, our anxiety clouds our minds so much that we can’t even begin to think how you can help us. Sometimes, we want so much for you to make the feelings go away and although we don’t say it, we’re hoping you have a magic solution we’ve never managed to find on our own. Keep asking what could help us right now. What helped last time, might not be the same thing this time. We know that’s tough.
We don’t always tell you when we’re struggling. We don’t want to burden you with the weight of the feelings we’re battling with ourselves. By the time we speak up, there’s been this lump in our throats for a while, that’s been making it harder to breathe. We’re so used to focussing our energy on pretending we can’t feel our chests tightening, that we’ve probably been mid attack for some time by the time we even realise. And when we do realise, there’s this moment of overwhelming sadness that we have to work through before we can accept that it’s happening again. We’re sad because it’s happening again. We’re reminded that we may never escape this cruel cycle. Every morning could be another day that we wake up and not be okay. So even when we’re having a good day, there’s always that fear that everything could change. And that stresses us out.
There’ll be those rare times, where we find that little bit extra strength, to acknowledge the swamping feeling and say the words to you “I’m feeling Anxious”. When we do, please remember we’ve struggled for some time to get to this moment. We’ve pretended we’re okay for as long as our bodies could do it. And pretending it’s not happening, takes up so much of our energy, that we’re tired. We’re so tired. We don’t have the strength to fight it. We beat ourself up for being so weak. That we have allowed this thing to consume us again. Functioning through the hold of our anxiety drains us. Please remember that when we can’t find the energy for everyday tasks.
If we forget to call you back, or seem distracted when you speak to us, please don’t think we don’t care. It’s just that in between the words you’re saying, theres a hundred thoughts we can’t get rid of, fighting for space in our heads all at once. And they’re so distracting. They make us forget things, like calling you back. Sometimes, we know we need to call you. We Want to. But before we can, we have to make sure we can push back that lump in our throats, get our words out, and not let you know that we’re struggling. We hate this about ourselves already, and we’re sorry. Please keep picking up the phone.
We will cry for reasons you don’t understand. But please don’t get frustrated. We don’t understand the reasons either and we are already frustrated enough for the both of us. We’ve tried so hard to fight the tears that you see. Those tears, make us feel like we’ve failed to stand up to our anxiety. They feel as though we’ve let anxiety win. Please, forgive us if we snap at you for telling us it’s good to cry it out. Sometimes it is. But, sometimes, the tears have a snowball affect, and once they start rolling they’re impossible to stop. We know that first tear could lead to us breaking down. We’ve been there before. We’re fighting so hard not to go there again.
We can be unpredictable, because our anxiety is unpredictable. It can hit us out of the blue and confuse us as much as you. We can be laughing along with you one minute and retreat into our own little world without warning. We’re just trying to contain it. We’re just trying not to ruin your day like it’s ruining ours. If we’re quiet please know it’s not you. We’re quiet because we’re trying every calming trick we’ve heard. We’re focussing on our breathing, practicing mindfulness and pretty much shouting at our own mind to get a grip and let us enjoy our day.
We live with this every day. We know sometimes you forget, but it is always there with us. We actually want you to forget sometimes so we aren’t completely defined by this. We know that sometimes our anxiety makes us impossible. We’re sorry, we really don’t mean it. Keep checking in on us. Keep doing what you can to prop us up when you think we need it. Keep trying your best to understand something that will never be understood. We appreciate everything you’re doing. And we’re sorry.