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Maybe it's because I didn't want to burden my loved ones with my problems, and maybe it's because my anxiety was trying to convince me that I didn't deserve help at all. Maybe I just wanted to be strong and healthy enough to be able to get up that hill on my own. Whichever one of those excuses it was, or even a combination of all three, I've decided that I have had enough of dealing with my anxiety all on my own. That's right, I've made the choice to no longer be a silent sufferer. It's been a tough decision, and it's taken me nearly 10 years to come to this point, but I've finally made it.
Let me tell you, although it was a huge relief to finally talk about my anxiety openly and freely, it also made me super, well, anxious. But instead of succumbing to that fear and panic, I actively recognized those thoughts and where they were coming from. After doing a quick breathing exercise, I put those thoughts back to bed and opened up to my father about the battles I've been fighting in my head. Do you want to know what my father said about that? Dad told me that he has been dealing with the same exact thing... quietly, for over 30 years.
It was honestly heartbreaking to think that my own dad was too anxious, nervous, and afraid to speak to anyone in our family about the negativity that plagued his thoughts every day. Over a Saturday breakfast, he and I talked at length about what really goes on behind our convincing smiles, and I am so happy that we could share those feelings. Not only was I relieved that I could finally spill that overflowing, shaken-up bottle of neglected emotions, I was glad that my dad was finally opening up, too.
I also found that Generalized Anxiety Disorder went beyond just my father and I, but other family members of mine were suffering from GAD as well. As adverse as it is that so many people whom I love and care for in my life are suffering from anxiety, it's kind of nice to know that I have a support network of people who truly understand what I'm going through.
Although talking about what's going on will not cure my mental illness, it did help identify it and validate those feelings. Suddenly, I wasn't so alone and scared. I now feel like I can stand up to those intrusive thoughts, and while they may still make me quiver in my boots, I know that I can reach out and take the hands of those who will fight with me.
Are you trying to deal with your anxiety quietly? Don't! Reach out to those who love you, and they will reach back. It's not easy dealing with mental illness, and no one should climb that hill alone.