I have anxiety. It isn’t rational. It can’t always be explained. It is real.
Yesterday my family met up with my aunt/uncle and cousins at a nice restaurant to celebrate some birthdays (mine included). I sat there, mostly quiet, for what felt like hours, although it had only been a short time. I should have been hungry, but I wasn’t. I was under too much pressure to feel the need to eat. Pressure from what? I don’t know. I just felt some kind of “social claustrophobia” and eventually I had to get out. So that’s what I did. I got up and went outside. It was the only thing I knew to do. Unfortunately, once I was away from the table the emotional stress only evolved into guilt for walking out. I stayed outside until my wife eventually joined me and we left.
Earlier today I had lunch with my immediate family to celebrate my sister’s birthday. During the meal, I thought I would do the mature thing and own up to abandoning everyone at the restaurant. So, I apologized. I said “I’m sorry about yesterday”. I don’t know what I expected in response to this, but what I didn’t expect was completely silence. Well, that’s what I got. Not a word back. Not so much as an acknowledgement that I’d said anything at all. Nobody even looked at me. I don’t know what anybody was thinking, but even though no words were uttered aloud I can tell you what I heard. I heard stuff like “You embarrassed us all” and “we’re too ashamed of you to even think about it” and “we can’t believe you did such a thing”. You see, this is the kind of thing anxiety does to a person to tear them apart from the inside. Even though logically and reasonably I know my family wouldn’t say things like that about me, it’s how I felt, and once again, the stress and pressure started setting in.
To be honest I hesitated quite a bit while writing that last sentence. Even as I sit here now, having had time to “sort it out” in my brain, I still don’t feel 100% convinced that my family wasn’t thinking some of those things. Notice that I used the phrase “wouldn’t *say* things like that”. I do believe they wouldn’t say those things… out loud. I can’t be sure they wouldn’t think them. I’m not sure how to handle that.
The ways in which anxiety plays tricks on the mind is compounded by the lack of understanding by others. Anxiety is one of those things that can’t easily be explained to or understood by someone who hasn’t experienced it. I’m so grateful that I have a wife who understands, and because of this at the very least I don’t feel completely alone.
After dinner I told my mom that I haven’t been doing well…. that I’ve been feeling anxious and depressed and angry. Her one word reply “Why” told me right away there was no point in trying to explain. Anxiety has no answer for “Why”. It just is.
I have an amazing family that loves me and I’m incredibly blessed to have them, but all the love in the world isn’t going to help them understand what I’m going through. I’m just going to have to hope they take me seriously and at least pray about it or something.
Also, yes. I have been taking medication for this for a long time… and, for a long time, I’ve been doing just fine. However the last couple of weeks have been pretty bad, and I’m not sure what’s changed.
Well, I think I got out what I wanted to get out.