I didn’t know then…
She told me all about it over tea at a coffee shop few years ago.
You know, trying to remember now, I don’t recall the name of the shop, nor its location. All I can remember is her sitting there, and behind her there were blurry silhouettes of random people—and maybe even friends…
Or were we alone? I can’t tell anymore…
I had lost track of time. She was doing most of the talking. I was just listening.
She told me how it can come out of nowhere, even without a trigger and overwhelm her at any given time. That it was very powerful and scary; feels like a heart attack, a dizzy spell and a punch in the gut all at once.
I started to imagine the pain she had kept to herself until that night.
I had a big lump stuck in my throat…
She told me about the exhaustion, being tense and on edge all the time. Physically and mentally draining her, affecting not just her mind, but her appetite, behaviour, emotions—everything. A 24/7 thing that does not just come and go, and can’t be turned off or turned down no matter how hard she tried.
I didn’t say a word…
I knew, it isn’t always about people freaking out externally or imagining the worst case scenarios, blubbering out loud about it. It is more than that.
It can be silent, unheard and internal.
She was freaking out internally and panicking, I could just feel it, keeping it all in. I was worried that she opening up to me like that would result in those moments when she would just break down.
But even if she did, I was there for her…
It is such a powerful emotion.
I knew it would be hard for her to explain how it really, truly frightens her, but I sensed it would be to the point where it controlled her life. Like being in an emotionally abusive relationship with the negative thoughts in your head.
I asked her about the panic attacks; they were different for different people. She was good at masking them in public, pretending to be part of the conversation, nodding strategically because she can’t even speak.
There was also the physical pain, and physical issues that come with it. All the ‘gross’ stuff that no one openly admits.
She did though.
It caused her to snap at people at times when they were doing something that triggers her. Then later, when she tries to apologise or explain, they don’t understand.
There was a level of it that was healthy, that helped her to perform well on tests, and in athletics, but the issue was when it starts to affect her everyday life, and stopped her from doing the things she loves, or stopped her from being successful.
It is paralysing, the self-doubt that comes along with it. I remember thinking of her as being lazy before then, but it was because of this. It manifests itself in procrastination when it comes to doing things with her life or certain tasks.
The fear of it happening can also cause it to happen.
I sensed how it is a nightmare for her to find the best course of treatment. Medications could help, but they also have side effects. On the other hand, natural remedies don’t always work the same for everyone.
I knew I ought to be patient with her—with the others—while she is trying to figure out what is best for her.
She is very caring, and at times, she tries too hard simply to be accepted and liked.
That’s what I saw of her.
I told her then, her friends will be there for her. They will listen.
I told her I was there for her as well.
Even if she felt the struggle every day, she didn’t have to face it all by herself.
She had to realise that…
‘Anxiety’ is a term used very loosely. It’s not often that people acknowledge just how debilitating it is.
Admitting you need help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength…