Open Letters To Those I’ve Affected With My Anxiety

Open Letters To Those I’ve Affected With My Anxiety

Disclaimer: This post is about my own experience with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I am not a physician. If you have concerns about your own anxiety, please contact a doctor. Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental illnesses in the U.S., affecting approximately 20% of the population every year. You are not alone.

Read about Facts and Statistics on Anxiety Disorders and General Anxiety Disorder

Dear Friend,

I told you I would come to meet you. I didn’t show.

You were angry, called me flaky and inconsiderate. You told me you were re-evaluating our friendship.

I understood your frustration; in fact, I thought about it obsessively for hours beforehand as I paced the house wrought with guilt, unable to explain why the idea of sitting in a crowded place was causing heart palpitations and my head was so full of pressure I thought it might pop off my neck. The thoughts bounced around my head, endlessly, as I annihilated my own self-worth and called myself a freak.

I couldn’t message you, or face the situation, or communicate what I was feeling, and even if I could, I thought you wouldn’t understand. I didn’t understand… so how could you? I’m sorry.

Anxiety Letters. Creepy Branches obscuring view. Ashley Allyn

Dear Ex-Friend,

I wanted to make the road trip to come see you. I really did. I should have admitted, as much as I wanted to see you, it wasn’t going to happen. It doesn’t mean I didn’t love you. I did. I loved you so much.

When you finally told me I was selfish and full of empty promises, I knew how you felt. I owed you the truth, but the entire painful truth was: I’d been lying to myself far longer than I’d lied to you.

At that point in my life, I actually drank a cocktail BEFORE I got into the car to cut the anxiety down a notch. It’s immensely shameful and horrible to confess, but at the time it felt more shameful to admit how despairingly useless I’d become. I’d become someone pathetic; someone I no longer recognized. I felt completely powerless.

I cried before I drove anywhere and pulled my car over after every few of miles to get out of the car for fresh air. I kept two water bottles in the car – one for drinking and one for splashing into my face. I gave myself an extra 45 minutes everywhere I went to dry my hair with the car heater.

I’m sorry I disappointed you. I disappointed myself, too.

Anxiety Letters A Black Crow on Branches Ashley Allyn

Dear Ex-Boss,

I’m sorry I was late to work and didn’t call. I communicated I was going through a patch of intense anxiety and depression and needed to get back on medication. I wanted you to understand it would pass; to know I wasn’t some irresponsible POS. It didn’t work.

I’ve wondered if I could have said more. I don’t think it would have helped.

I wish things hadn’t played out this way. I wish my experiences sounded rational. While in the midst of my panic attack, I saw nothing except for my impending death. The black spots eclipsed my vision, closing in on me, taking me to the floor.

I kept repeating, ‘you aren’t dying’ over and over, in hopes I’d remember I wasn’t. And after, depleted and exhausted, the wires in my brain remained tangled and disconnected. It took me hours to put my thoughts together.

When we finally talked you said, ‘everyone goes through stressful times and they get through it just fine’, before you let me go. I know, very well in fact, plenty of people go through stressful times and have the ability to get through it just fine.

Don’t you know I wish every day your assessment of ‘everyone’ could be me? I understand the decision you made. I’m sorry you felt like I was someone you couldn’t depend on.

Open Letters To Those I've Affected With My Anxiety Ashley Allyn

Dear People Without Anxiety Disorders,

These are the apologies saturating our lives, every day. Pages upon pages upon pages.

Constant feelings of worthlessness and shame.

Sometimes, it feels easier to hide in isolation than to face the constant barrage of people we will most certainly disappoint.

I hid behind a facade so carefully constructed, pretending I was okay for so long, no one knew my secret. During the majority of my time with anxiety, I spent more energy and worry on others than myself.

I had anxiety about my anxiety and it created anxiety about talking about my anxiety, and on and on the cycle went. Our brains deceive us and it can take months, years, decades, never, to feel relief. We reside in the prison of our own minds.

Anxiety feels like a prison…

I am empathetic by nature – most anxiety sufferers are – and feel the inconvenience, frustration, or pain I inflict on others. I believe in holding myself accountable for my omissions and regret not being more forthcoming in my struggles in prior years. I still believe in ‘I’m sorry’ and readily give apologies.

But I will no longer apologize for who I am. I’m proud of the amazing strides I have taken in my battle.

Most days are almost normal.

I know it’s difficult to understand this disorder. How can such simple things be so damn hard? Why can’t we just relax and ‘get over it’? Believe me, if it were that simple we’d all be drinking the elixir, whatever it might be.

Actually, I take that back. I wouldn’t change my experience with anxiety. It has made me a better, more understanding person.

No one is harder on us than we are on ourselves.

Let’s all try empathy and kindness, and maybe, someday, we won’t be viewed as disappointments but as warriors doing our damndest to overcome. And there will be no shame is being who we are.

We are only human. We are trying. We really are. Every. Single. Day.

– Ashley

Read more on anxiety:

5 Things To Help Manage Anxiety

My Brain Broke

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