Many people believe that people struggling with depression and anxiety choose to remain in their condition. They believe that all I need to do is to wake up and decide that I will no longer be anxious, and that’s it. That if I want, I will smile again, have my cup of coffee, and learn how to deal with it.
Well, you are wrong. Anxiety is not a choice. I can’t turn anxiety on and off no matter how much I want to. I didn’t choose on purpose to be anxious today and not be anxious tomorrow. It just happens. Anxiety is not something I can control.
I repeat, ANXIETY IS NOT A CHOICE.
There are days when I don’t feel anxious at all. During those days I start to believe that perhaps one day it will all be gone, and I will enjoy life again. However, it comes back when I least expect it – just when I am starting to get more peaceful and comfortable. And again, it shocks me to the core and disturbs my peace…
The truth is, I can’t just decide to be happy. I can’t just calm down and relax. It doesn’t work like that. Anxiety comes with no pause or shut off buttons.
When you tell me to ‘calm down’ and ‘chill’ you are making me feel as you think my illness doesn’t exist. You are downplaying it and the importance it has on my life. By thinking that anxiety is not something serious, you are making me feel terrible. Anxiety IS an illness and IS something to worry about.
If you broke your leg, would you tell yourself to “keep walking”? If someone you know is diagnosed with cancer, would you say to them to “let it go” and “just smile”? I don’t believe you would.
Therefore please, stop telling me to smile because I really don’t know how. Stop telling me to be happy and let it go. Stop telling me I don’t have anything to worry about. Stop insinuating that anxiety is not a real disease, because it is.
You don’t know what it is like to be in my body and mind. You don’t know what kind of thoughts pass through my brain every day. You don’t know how it feels to be constantly in panic, fearing for your life…
So, before you judge me, and tell me to ‘relax’, please note that anxiety is an illness. Depression too. They are mental illnesses. They are not only a phase of our lives. They are not a cry for attention. They are real. And they are eating us from the inside.
Mary Wright is a professional writer with more than 10 years of incessant practice.