I was talking with a friend a while ago and the subject turned to worrying – my worrying.
Up until recently I had been hesitant to talk about my anxiety disorder with more than a select group of people. I think the main reason was because I didn’t want to be misunderstood. In my opinion one of the biggest misconceptions about anxiety is that it’s an emotion, a feeling you can turn on and off. Almost a choice.
So when I was speaking with someone I am good friends with and I disclosed my anxiety to them their response was “don’t about it, worrying is a wasted emotion”. I am a very reactive person so I was taken aback to say the least, but having had some time to consider this response I know now that my friend has never experienced what I experience on a daily basis. What I would like feel is happy that my friend doesn’t have this disorder. What I actually feel is anger and irritated that this disorder was seen as an emotion and not what it is – a chemical imbalance.
Don’t get me wrong, I truely don’t think my friend meant any harm but in not taking the time to learn what is actually wrong with me, I felt like I wasn’t heard and the strength that it took me to confess my anxiety wasn’t seen.
I’m writing this is because there is someone I know, not well but well enough. She is often stand offish and aloof. I have always taken this to mean that she hasn’t got time for, or that she doesn’t like me – that her behaviour was a reflection on me. I have recently learnt that she suffers from anxiety and depression. Her demeanour is probably one of survival, to help her get through the day but I took it to mean something very different.
It struck me that, in a way, I reacted to this person the way my friend reacted to me. In ignorance. So the lesson I’m trying to learn is that we never know what someone else is going through and that I’m trying to teach myself to be less judgmental, less reactive and to be more accepting.