Alright guys. It’s time to get real. Grab a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine, I’ll be drinking for this one for sure.
Having an anxiety disorder is one of those things that has a bad rep, is poorly understood by those who don’t have it, and just generally misused in popular media. Not blaming anybody, but if you come up to me saying you have an anxiety disorder because you don’t like crowds, I may throw my wine at you. From that lovely threat, you may think that conflict comes quite easily to me, that as well is somewhat of a double-edged sword.
But I’m skipping ahead already, so let’s get into some exposition.
When you have to deal with an anxiety disorder it means that you are turning situations over in your head about a million times (no joke) and analysing everything you have done, could do, will avoid doing until the last possible second. It’s a fun time.
An exciting addition to that is the fact that most anxiety (well, mine at least) is based around being perfect and doing the right thing so that absolutely everyone I come across in my life is happy and satisfied with my behaviour. The thought of someone being upset by something I’ve said will reduce me to tears. A person angry at me for making a mistake? Tears. A random stranger cursing at me for taking too long in a queue? Tears.
You get the idea.
So on top of that guilt of not being absolutely gosh-darn perfect for every second of my existence, we can throw in the fact that I think about it all the time, ten times over. Not to mention that the actual logical part of my brain recognises the ridiculousness of my thought process and somehow is powerless to stop it, so I’m also beating myself up about that.
I’m not trying to throw pity all over myself, these are just facts I’ve learned through the fabulous conflicts I’ve gone through. Perhaps it could help you recognise ways that you perhaps relate, if so, there are ways to live with it.
So when it comes to conflict in general, I was never very good, I fell into tears almost immediately. The guilt would crush me until I was in a self-depreciating spiral that I couldn’t exit for days. The anxiety would flood my brain until I would convince myself I was worthless, and that the person I had an argument with has no realised that I’m worthless, and gosh how could I have been so stupid as to upset someone so much?
The hilarious thing about that is, the random man who grumped at me earlier that day has absolutely forgotten that I exist, he will never conjure my face up in his mind ever again. That’s a hard pill to swallow, when you’re so convinced that every horrible thing is your fault, that everything is not the catastrophe that your mind is creating. But it’s important that you do.
Once you manage to do that, you can overlook the small conflicts that we as human beings are bound to fall into. Fighting over the television remote does not mean that your partner now hates you, trust me. Unless you’ve done something truly awful, like theft or murder or bare-face lying, just try to let yourself off the hook. The other person probably has, so why are you torturing yourself? Try to recognise that small conflicts are just that, small, insignificant. You will be okay.
A larger issue can arise when you do have real serious arguments with the people you love. When anxiety is riding high you are afraid to have an opinion, and the guilt for even opening your mouth is unbelievable. But if your stance comes from a place that you truly believe in, if you feel like you are doing something that aligns with you, you have to have faith that you can overcome the conflict together. If you can’t, then the person doesn’t align with you, you’re better off without them.
I know it can be hard when you already see yourself as forgettable, unlikable, a failure. Yet I have learned throughout my own feelings like these that they usually only come from within, the other person is not thinking that, try to sit with that and recognise how that would change your stance in an argument. If you weren’t terrified of being yourself, would you say something different?
Something I’m still working on is the fear that the next argument will be the last one. That this will finally be the time where they realise that I’m a horrible person, that this would be all they need to rub their hands of me. That’s a tough one.
But I’m working on it. It helps to have people around you that you’ve chosen, that make you feel safe, that care about your mental health journey. It becomes easier to see yourself in a different light and to turn things over in your mind just that much less.
This was quite a hard one guys. I hope it helps you recognise that you’re not as bad as your brain might tell you. Or even that your understanding of anxiety disorders is a small bit clearer.
Time for another glass of wine, I’d say.