If I hear a sound at night, I assume there's a stranger in the house. Mailing letters terrifies me. Dancing stresses me out.
Sometimes, I shut down and don't know what to say because socializing is hard. My mind goes blank because it's all too much.
Some days, everything in the whole world makes me nervous. Birds, fax machines, the subway, phone calls, sleeping, food, leaving, staying — you name it, it all makes me anxious, even you.
Am I a weirdo? Well, yes, but that's not why mailing letters makes me squirm.
I have an anxiety disorder, and it scares me away. It scares me away from so many things.
People sometimes want to know why I can't just "get over it." They phrase it in a less aggressive, nicer way than that (usually), but it's still what they mean.
Why is it such a big deal? I shouldn't let things bother me like they do. I just have to forget about it.
It's not a big deal, they say, and that's what I try to remind myself, too — over and over again, every day. I know none of it should be a big deal, but my anxiety tells me a different story, and anxiety is very loud.
I have never not been anxious. Even as the youngest version of myself I can remember, I bit my nails, pulled my hair and was an anxiety-ridden mess. I will always have my anxiety, but it will never define all of who I am.
I am stronger than my anxiety, and I can live with it. I know that, but my anxiety still scares me away.
It's not crippling or anything. Unless I told you about it, you'd probably never know I'm an anxious mess. But, still, I don't want to be anxious and I don't understand why I have to be.
The rest of the world doesn't always get it, either. When they see the anxiety in action, it can be perplexing.
Dishes make me anxious; every time I've lived with friends, dirty dishes have always been an issue. Twenty-somethings don't like to do dishes, but my anxiety convinces me the dirty dishes will infect and kill me.
I try to explain this, but my friends just assume I'm a clean freak -- Type A, anal.
It's hard to explain and it's hard to understand – even for me.
I am always early because being just on time feels like being late to me. Not everyone is like that (thankfully for them), and I often end up waiting for my friends.
My anxiety resents them because they are late — they are making me late — and I become irritable and teary-eyed for no reason other than being late.
If there is a set plan, it should be followed, my anxiety says. No rhyme or reason. That's just the way it is.
Sometimes, I think all of my friends hate me. I become sure they do. Or, at least, that's what anxiety says. I know my friends love me, but it's hard not to think my anxiety might scare them away, too.
Interviews usually make me anxious. If my anxiety is distracted on interview day, then I'm awesome, engaging and conversational. I know what to say because I'm not over-thinking it.
If anxiety is alive and well, I'm hesitant; I second-guess myself. There are so many wonderful reasons to hire me and I forget them all. If the interview starts to not go well, I can't pull myself out. I convince myself I'm doomed.
"You won't get the job, anyway," anxiety chants.
Relationships make me anxious. Well, not relationships, per se, but since my anxiety is always present, it affects relationships, like everything else.
When you date someone, he or she becomes part of you, and since my anxiety is a part of me, it becomes part of him or her, too. My constant need for attention is not easy. My panic attacks are not fun: I ask a lot of questions; I cry; I freak out.
There are girls who don't do that; they don't want to know everything. Of course, they are not perfect, but maybe, they are a kind of imperfect that is easier to handle – the kind that's cute, not obtrusive.
"Don't let my anxiety scare you away," I pleaded with a guy I was seeing. "It won't," he assured. Impossible.
It wasn't a promise, but to my anxiety, it sounded like one.
Existing in general makes me anxious. I ask a million questions because I'm convinced if I don't, I might misunderstand something and do it incorrectly. Everything new I am asked or expected to do is an anxiety.
With something simple, like making copies, I think, "What if I can't figure out how to work the copier or it's out of paper or it breaks or it explodes?" Bake a cake, do taxes, learn to drive, figure out what to do with my life -- existing is one of the most anxiety-producing things around.
It's not easy for any of us. Anxiety is draining. It's a pain in the ass and it's way less than ideal. I know.
My anxiety sometimes scares me away. I don't want it to, but I can't control it and neither can you.
My anxiety is a 15-year-old child, thinking it knows what it's talking about, when really, it's immature and naïve and will never know how to handle things correctly.
Anxiety is like electricity running through my brain with no "off" switch.
My whole chest fills with fear and I can't breathe. My brain morphs into a petulant child who will not listen to logic. There are monsters in its closet, and nothing can convince it otherwise.
If you're anxious, too, then you know. Did you also know, sometimes, anxiety can be a blessing in disguise?
Anxiety-ridden people appreciate the little things. If something doesn't make an anxious person anxious, then, oh-my-goodness, it's wonderful and so, so appreciated. The moments when I'm not anxious are ones I will always remember.
Anxious people will never hurt you because they know too well what it means to get hurt. Boy, do they ever know. They don't want you to go through it. They don't want anyone to go through it.
Anxious people tend to also be empathetic; they even care about people who hurt them.
People with anxiety are intuitive and great at listening. They also love fiercely; they love jobs, friends, significant others and, most importantly, life. People with anxiety know how hard everything is and do not take any of it for granted.
My anxiety might scare me away – but as much as I cannot control it, I try not to let it control me.
Are you anxious, too? If you are, you understand what I'm saying. You feel like a burden. You feel like an inconvenience to the people about whom you care. You know it's not your fault, but that doesn't matter.
It's coming from inside of you and feels like you should be able to control it. Sometimes, I control it; I'm not always anxious.
Sometimes, I run through a Florida apartment complex at 1 am with a boy I just met, dripping wet from the pool and glowing from his eyes on me.
Sometimes, I get brunch with my best friend and I order a vanilla chai with confidence and without second-guessing myself because of calories or price or whatever.
Sometimes, a stranger calls me pretty or smart or stellar and I think, "Yes, yes I am."
For these fleeting moments, I don't have to be anxious.
Anxiety is trying. Anxiety is crippling. Anxiety can be a nightmare. But, sometimes, anxiety is bearable. Anxiety shows me all I have, can and will overcome.
I have anxiety, but I am not anxiety. That's the difference.
My anxiety might scare me away; it might try to scare you away, too. But, maybe, sometimes, it's okay to be afraid.