Anxiety is an ugly monster that shows up to the party uninvited. It lets itself in and grabs a drink and kicks his feet up, knowing it’ll hang around past its welcome. His favorite hobby is ruining friendships, relationships, and torturing the host of the party. And for so long, I let him stay and hang out. To my friends and family, I am sorry.
I am sorry that I used anxiety as an excuse not to hang out and spend time with you.
I am sorry that I let past events affect current relationships. I am sorry that it, subsequently, puts some of my best friends in the same category as those who hurt me. You see, when I say my walls are up because of my past, it assumes that I am afraid you are going to be like the people in my past. Whether or not this is how my mind processes it (hint… it isn’t), this is how it is perceived.
I am sorry if I ever made you feel like I didn’t care, or wasn’t putting in the effort, or that I would rather be alone. I’m sorry if I pushed you away, lied and said I was fine, or never seemed to open up about how I felt.
The truth is, YOU are not the problem, never were and never will be. To those that stuck around, thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for not walking away, even when I wasn’t there for you. Thank you for always picking up the phone, even when I hadn’t answered when you reached out to me. Know that my walls were not against you.
I’m not writing this for attention, or to show the world how much better I am doing, or for you to think I have it all together. I’m writing this because a realization has hit me in the past few weeks. God has placed a burden on my heart, that I feel in the end, can only heal me. My anxiety, and what started it, is not anyone’s fault but the individual who caused it (another story for another time). To continue to live, complacent, inside of my little fortress, is not only selfish, but foolish.
Anxiety is a concrete wall, and the person stuck inside is armed with a Barbie-sized pick ax. Over the years, I have picked away most of the stone that has built up. This last stretch, however, is the hardest. I have grown comfortable in my prison, and that is not okay. To those out there with anxiety or depression – I am not saying you hold all of the answers. You don’t. It will take other people, other hurt and pain, prayer, and time. But, one day, you’ll be here, so close to the finish line, but with the most daunting challenge ahead.
Finally stepping out of the cloud cover and into life. To stop using anxiety as an excuse to not tell your loved ones how you feel. To stop being distant and silent around the ones who have patiently stood by your side.
Anxiety, as awful as it makes the inside of your own head feel, also makes it seem like a comfortable, safe palace. Stepping outside of that, finally, is terrifying. I’m afraid of confrontation, of people that I love leaving because all of a sudden, I say how I feel. But if they abandon ship after one little storm, maybe they aren’t supposed to be there in the first place. I am trusting that God has placed people in my life for reasons.
This is probably super rant-y, and won’t make sense to a lot of people. To those with anxiety who aren’t quite there yet, it may seem as though I am full of BS and have no idea what it is like. I do. Years ago, I was a hot mess. Today, I am still a mess, but more conscious of how my mess affects other people. You’ll tell me that I’m not being selfish, that it is my disease and others should understand. But listen, my issues weren’t things that I was born with. They stemmed from things that happened to me. Here, at the end of my healing journey, I can see that my issues not only hurt me, but a lot of those around me, and that is my fuel to finally step out of this. To those that have never experienced anxiety, you lucky poops, it may seem like the fix is so easy. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me to just “stop being anxious,” I could retire tomorrow and move to the islands. But, sadly, that isn’t how it works. It takes time. It takes prayers. It takes breaking down almost daily, but using that as a way to build yourself back up stronger.
Moral of the story: I am done. I am done hiding behind this thing that has consumed my life since I was 16. I am done with lying to those I love. I am done with taking out my issues on my friends and family. I am not going to be a victim anymore. I will still have my days, but I am putting this in the past, and am going to enjoy the rest of this life.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7