11/04/2015

anxiety//seeing you -- seeing me

The other week at work I witnessed a staff member having an anxiety attack. I heard that it was happening well into the attack and as soon as someone was able to convey exactly what was happening as diplomatically as possible the fog came into view. And when I saw it for myself I couldn't breathe. At work I am expected to deal with situations like these swiftly and effectively and had I not been in the same area as it I think I could have. But seeing it first hand was one of the most frightening experiences of my life. In that person I saw me.

I don't want to use anyone else's pain. I don't want to use them for my writing and I hope I can convey that properly here... For my whole life I have always felt like I was crazy. I have been there for every anxiety attack and could only imagine what all the crying and falling to the floor and head hitting looked like. I looked certifiable. I was insane. I am insane. But seeing someone go through their own "moment" made me realise something -- they are just like me and they are not crazy, nowhere near it, and neither am I.  

I fumbled hard that day at work. I couldn't breathe. I could barely see. My eyes watered and blurred and I fell apart. My work, of course, was not happy with my inability to handle the situation. That I wasn't able to jump up and get it done. I get it. I wish I could have. I wish it hadn't taken me that long to realise what was happening and, then, when I did I wish my body's first reaction wasn't to fall apart.

But I did fall apart. I cried. My body trembled for the rest of the day and well into the night. I tried my hardest to be there for that person, to not ask them too many questions and to just let them be because that's what I need in that situation. But everyone struggles differently and I had no idea what to do. I have no idea what to do in my own damn situation. I don't think anybody does.

I think when you're around someone with mental illness you don't need to walk on eggshells. You don't need to know exactly what to do because guess what? I don't know what to do! Sometimes I forget to breathe. Just be sympathetic and yourself and listen to them. Remember that everyone suffers differently. Someone may want hugs. Others may want space. I, for one, like to be alone with my emptiness and have all nearby sharp objects taken away...

I hate that someone else breaking down in front of me was what it took for me to realise that I am not crazy but, sometimes, it's what it takes. I am normal for who I am and what I have. Not everyone will understand, your work place may reprimand you for not being able to handle anxiety without yours getting in the way but... I don't know. It's just life isn't it? The world isn't able to bow down to mental illness and sometimes it sucks and other times it helps and as long as you have someone in your life who understands and loves every bit of you the randoms and mean people and yelling bosses don't matter.

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