I’m going to tell you a story.
Last night I had probably the worst bout of anxiety of my lifetime. If not the worst, definitely top five. In the grand scheme, it wasn’t a huge deal, because I was at home, safe and alone with my wife, so all I had to do was lie down and ride it out. It was also self-inflicted; I did some things I know can cause it, and knowing full and well I was putting myself at risk, I went ahead and did them anyway. So that part was my fault, and it was stupid, and I won’t do it again.
But lying there in bed, hoping and praying that the madness would just release me long enough to close my eyes and go to sleep, I had one lucid thought:
Nobody knows what this is like.
Now, that’s not totally true. A lot of people deal with anxiety/depression/panic disorders, and while it’s impossible to know that anyone is feeling the exact same thing you feel inside your own head—it can feel pretty lonely in that locked room—chances are good I’m not the only one on earth who’s experienced these very feelings. But every time you have an attack like this, it feels like you’re the only one it’s ever happened to, because it’s terrifying, and it’s odd to think that others are going through these same things and not talking about them.
Because that’s the thing; we don’t talk about them. I’ve gone most of my life without mentioning this to anyone, and just recently have I begun confiding in my closest friends and family members. There are two reasons for this:
- It’s embarrassing. I don’t know why, but the idea that my brain does things to me that I can’t control, and these things can be awfully scary, isn’t something I like to share. It makes me feel weak, and crazy.
- It’s extremely hard to explain. The words we use for this stuff—anxiety, panic, etc.—do a terrible job summarizing what you actually feel. When I hear “anxiety,” I think, “oh that person must be worried about something.” At least I did, before this shit started happening to me.