Something happened when I participated in the Twitter #ThisIsHowAnxietyFeels hashtag. I realized how similar people are in their mental health journey. And I saw that what I experience isn’t as unusual as I thought. I know it sounds cliché and it would seem after all these years I would have already surmised that point. But this was different.
I’ve met a ton of bipolar & depression sufferers over the last decade or so. All of their stories mirrored mine in some way. So I’ve felt a sense of solidarity. But anxiety is something that I’m still learning about. As is OCD. Bipolar disorder has taken a front seat, pushing aside all my other struggles. Even when talking to doctors and therapists. Anxiety just sits in the back, huddling in a dark corner, waiting to be recognized or acknowledged in some way. Anxiety for me has been like a lonely wallflower at a raucous party.
Anxiety is really the root of many of my daily occurrences, when I think about it though. I’d wager it’s more troublesome than my bipolar issues, because I know those so well at this point. And I know what to do when I have a setback. But reading what people had to say about their life with anxiety really made me rethink how I look at this illness. I understood, probably for the first time, how anxiety impacts my relationship with others. And how I react to different situations when my anxiety is running amuck. I didn’t think I had many light-bulb moments left when it comes to mental illness. But I was mistaken.
I had no idea that anybody else would relate to cleaning a floor meticulously by hand during an anxiety attack. Or that anyone would ‘get’ the feeling of isolation to the point of thinking you’ll die alone. I couldn’t have known people would understand my habit of checking things repeatedly even when it doesn’t appear to make sense. Actually anxiety made me believe that I had nothing noteworthy to contribute to this entire sharing session. It turns out that wasn’t true.
If you deal with anxiety in any form, I highly recommend that you check out this hashtag and interact with other anxiety ‘practitioners’ 😉 You’ll gain so much insight, and if nothing else, you’ll see first hand that we’re not alone.