Let's Normalize 'It's Okay Not To Be Okay' For Our Anxious Friends

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By James Macey

Have you ever had the feeling that you were out of control?

The funny thing is, on the outside you’re perfectly calm, but on the inside you are fighting an ongoing battle with anxiety. The days start to get longer, and that panic circulating in your head never fully goes away.

Anxiety isn’t something that can go away. A lot of times, medicine and therapy can be seen as temporary.

It’s okay to not be okay, and I’d like to normalize that phrase.

RELATED: 12 Life Skills Only People With Anxiety Can Teach You

Being anxious every day is exhausting. There are moments where you feel like it’s never going to just go away. Anxiety is like that new show "Alice in Borderland" because of the constant games we are playing to try to “survive.”

I can go months without feeling anxious and then that will turn into weeks, days, and every minute of every day. It’s a constant battle you fight silently. The most difficult part is acting like you’re okay and getting on with your day.

Here are three things that people fail to realize when it comes to anxiety:

1. Avoiding everything

If I can find a way to not go somewhere, I will act on that until I don’t have to go anymore.

The feeling of leaving to go somewhere or the thought of driving makes me anxious to the point where I’ve gotten halfway down the road and had to turn around.

In the past I would never go to family gatherings and sometimes even skip school because it was easier just to stay locked away in my room. When I force myself to go out either to work or to see my daughter, that car ride feels like the longest car ride of my life.

2. Distancing yourself from others

The majority of the time, I don’t even realize I’m continuously distancing myself from friends and family.

To be honest, I don’t have the best relationship with my family for a number of reasons. I know when it comes down to it, they won’t be there to support me or comfort me when I need them.

So when it comes to distancing myself from them, it’s a lot easier than when I distance myself from people who actually care.

RELATED: 100+ Anxiety Quotes To Help Calm Your Deepest Fears

For the small circle of people that do care, they understand why I’m distancing myself and I make the extra effort to reach out. The rest comes from not wanting to be social and trying to avoid every possible conversation that comes my way.

It sucks because I’m usually a social butterfly. But when I hit people with one-word answers and a blank facial expression, it ruins many first impressions and any future friends I could’ve had.

3. Severing relationships

When people can’t fully grasp the concept of anxiety, they end up getting frustrated and annoyed. This is especially true if they know you are currently anxious. They say all the wrong things like, “Can you just stop already,” “You are fine,” or “Just grow up and deal with it.”

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These short phrases create a divide. My relationships with people who have said this to me have never been the same.

The hard reality of being anxious and being stuck in this mental state is that it takes a toll on you mentally and physically. This leads to being careless, moody, scared...

While I’m not making excuses for my actions, my anxiety can make me act out or say the wrong thing. At the end of the day, all you can do is try to fix those broken relationships.

Anxiety is something I wish people could truly accept as a real issue in the world today. It took me months to even write this because I’ve been afraid of the negative feedback.

To anyone who is experiencing anxiety, no matter how severe it is, keep fighting even when it seems impossible. It’s okay to not be okay!

RELATED: 5 Signs You're Secretly Struggling With High-Functioning Anxiety (And What You Can Do To Manage It)

James Macey is a writer who focuses on the topics of fatherhood and family.

This article was originally published at Unwritten. Reprinted with permission from the author.