My anxiety comes out in different ways. Sometimes it’s me crying on my floor. Sometimes it’s me laying on my couch not able to move. Sometimes it’s me becoming flustered and lashing out. The triggers are different too. Sometimes it’s being insecure. Sometimes it’s an unanswered text. Sometime’s it’s nothing at all. Anxiety can manifest in a variety of ways. Sometimes others can misunderstand. They don’t think what triggers me should trigger me. They don’t think how it manifests should be what it looks like. They say it’s all my fault and I do it to myself. It’s difficult to hear people say those things to me. Am I having anxiety wrong? Should I be able to control it better?
Since I have been talking more about my anxiety, I hear about others as well. People feel open about discussing it with me. The breakdowns. The anxiety attacks. The questioning. Their anxiety or breakdowns don’t look the same way as mine. They don’t get triggered by the same things. I don’t judge them for it. I don’t tell them that what they are doing is stupid.
Playing strategic board games gives me anxiety. Some of my close friends love them. I swear they play Settlers of Catan every weekend. I always watch. When they ask me to play, I always say no thank you because it gives me anxiety. They never question me or make fun of it. They just let it go. This is important. This is the goal.
I would be a hypocrite if I said that I never flipped the script on this. That I never got confused or questioned someone else when they said they had anxiety. I come to the point in my life where I learned my lesson.
Others don’t get to decide if something should cause you anxiety. Others don’t get to decide how you should act when you feel anxious. Others shouldn’t criticize you for falling apart sometimes. It’s easy to be on the outside looking in. Easy to say “well that wouldn’t cause me anxiety – so I don’t get it.” It becomes simpler to judge others for the way they handle it. It’s our place to judge or tell them the “right” way to have anxiety. All we should do is more supportive, listen, and help if we can.