It took a day longer than anticipated, but better late than never!
Please enjoy my article for Week 5 on Odyssey!
My Friend’s Best-Kept Secret
You are not alone.
Last month, I shared this article on Facebook about the daily struggles of women suffering from anxiety. I posted the article with this caption:
“Thankfully, I don’t experience severe panic attacks, crying, etc., but I know women out there who do. Be kind, be patient, and be understanding. That’s all we ask.”
Shortly after, I received a text message from a long-time friend. She thanked me for posting the things I post about anxiety because she was diagnosed last year after some panic attacks. She said, “It’s refreshing reading things reminding me I’m not the only one freaking out 90% of the time.”
I told her I felt the same, and I said, “I just know I’m not the only one, whether people choose being open about it or keeping it to themselves, but for those who suffer in silence, I don’t mind being a voice.”
We didn’t talk much longer after that, but overall, I knew it was a conversation I would never and will never forget. The discussion was brief, but it made me realize something crucially important.
Not only was I beyond flattered and touched she reached out to me; it also caught me off guard. I had no idea she had anxiety. It was surprising news, but it made me sad as well. I felt guilty I didn’t pay more attention and I didn’t do more to help her especially because I knew exactly how she felt.
After wading through my mixed emotions, my thoughts took me back to middle school, and a time when my anxiety/depression was at its worst. Yet every single day, I put on a face and went out into the world. I didn’t like talking about how I felt, and I definitely didn’t like showing it. The weight on my shoulders crushed me more and more, but I convinced myself it was better suffering alone than putting the burden on someone else by spilling my guts.
I’m quite a bit older now (and I like thinking wiser also), but expressing myself to others is still a work-in-progress. However, I feel I’m more in control of myself. I know myself, and in that, I have a knack for helping others find themselves and helping them understand sharing personal problems is not a burden like I once believed.
The best advice I can give when it comes to people living with anxiety and/or depression is listen. Ask questions, but then really listen to the responses. Acknowledge feelings, even if the feelings seem silly. Anxiety and depression make us think silly things, but we can’t help it, no matter how hard we try.
In addition, don’t force answers (because we honestly might not have them), and always remind us how much we’re loved. We might doubt, we might deny, but never stop telling us because it could be the last bit of light we need on our darkest day.
More than anything, I beg you be kind to one another because you never know what someone else deals with on a daily basis, and no one knows what you deal with either.
Take care of each other, and take care of yourself. You are not alone.
If you wish to share my article, please share here through Odyssey. Thank you!