I am so very tired sometimes.
Fighting fear is exhausting business…mostly because we do it in secret.
I think one of the reasons why battling anxiety is so draining is we feel we have to hide it. When it comes to anxiety or really any matter of the mind, the battleground isn’t physical (note: that’s not to say, it can’t manifest in physical symptoms). It isn’t something other people always see or understand.
And when people don’t understand something, they have a tendency to judge it.
So, we hide the struggle. We put on a brave face. When people ask how we are we smile and say we’re fine.
We hide in the bathroom at work. We avoid making plans. We say we’re not feeling well (which isn’t actually a lie).
I’ve done it. I’ve worn the mask. But what I’m starting to realize is wearing the mask breeds a feeling of shame.
I’m not suggesting you bare your soul to everyone. Because the reality is people will and do judge what they don’t understand. I’ve experienced it and maybe you have too. Years ago when I was really struggling, I did open up to a friend and it backfired. She meant well but she automatically suggested medication and then proceeded to share my struggle with a mutual friend because she was worried. They began to badger me to make plans, even though I said I wasn’t up to it, and so, I felt I had to wear the mask again. I put it on and pretended like I was ok so they would get off my back and stop the unsolicited, uninformed advice.
It’s ok to be selective with who and what you share. And if people do judge you, realize it’s more about them than it is about you. It might hurt, but know you’re brave nonetheless. They’re human and in need of grace too.
Also, haters gonna hate.
But the reality is, loads of people struggle with anxiety or will struggle with anxiety at some point in their lives. If we all took off our masks, I think we’d feel a lot less shame and a lot less exhaustion. Maybe the struggle shouldn’t be an invisible one.
Being honest and transparent is really hard. It’s uncomfortable. It’s been one of my greatest struggles in my journey towards healing. But I’m learning. I am learning to let go of the shame surrounding my struggle with anxiety because I am learning to share what I kept hidden for a long time. I’m learning to expose the invisible struggle to the light of honesty.
I think maybe the world is becoming a kinder place. I don’t know. Maybe it’s a stretch to say that. We have a long way to go. There’s a lot of stigma out there, a lot of ignorance. But I’m also finding a lot of love, messages of kindness and acceptance, and other brave souls baring their struggles and their scars proudly.
It’s good to expose the dark parts of our soul to the light. In order to do that, we have to actually step out from the shadows and be seen.