I turned 40 this year and just as I did, I lost a friend to distance (“You are selfish” read the text). I didn’t go to a birthday party two years ago and a New Year’s Eve party this year. I didn’t care, she thought. But the truth is, I just couldn’t. Anxiety for me is this unexplainable pull that causes me to be… afraid. Without reason, I’m suddenly uneasy of the next. Most times, I’m unaware that fear is what is stopping me. It’s not that I fear the birthday or NYE party but the thought of being there with this feeling. Anxiety comes as a heat that quickly pushes through my body making the thought of what I have to do or go to next overwhelming and exhausting. To do nothing cools the fear. Avoidance and solitude offer an easy solution.

When I choose avoidance to a friend’s birthday, I rationalize that she or he will understand. I weigh the importance of that birthday until I can convince myself it’s just another day. Without knowing the reason, I can offer no explanations to those I might hurt with my avoidance. ” I have anxiety” never seems to be an acceptable answer. “Come on, just do it,” is usually the responses. Which makes sense, if you don’t deal with anxiety. But, I can’t just do it. Anxiety is an invisible weight pushing down on me. Years in therapy have made me better at carrying on; ignoring the irrational thoughts of anxiety and making me a better decision maker. More often than not when anxieties appear, I now choose to confront the next instead of avoid. But, I still find myself having to say sorry to those I unintentionally hurt. I still slip.

Anxiety still holds me down on days. It’s hard to explain if you don’t have it. How do you explain to someone you just can’t do something or go someplace except that you have anxiety. A word that can not fully be understood until felt.

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