Have you ever felt as though you haven’t “sounded” anxious enough? As though the anxiety from which you suffer is somehow invalidated because you “sound” fine? The truth is, anxiety doesn’t have a voice.
It may seem as though it does sometimes, but your voice is the one that matters. You should never feel less deserving of care simply because of the way you present yourself to others.
The expectations behind how society believes you should sound can be suffocating.
You may feel as though your illness is discredited because you’re extroverted and like meeting new people. You may feel as though you shouldn’t need your medication because you haven’t had a panic attack for two months.
If you ever find these thoughts creeping into your mind, take some time to reflect on the history of your anxiety.
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Look back at just how far you’ve come, and how much you’ve learned.
You don’t need the judgements of others telling you how you need to behave–you are the boss of your own recovery. You have chosen not to let this illness define you.
Staying in touch with your own thoughts and emotions is paramount. When you start buying into the idea your voice isn’t “right” for your illness, you can quickly lose your sense of self. Always keep in mind this is your journey, and the way you think and feel about things is entirely up to you.
When talking about your anxiety, there is no need to be apologetic. Sometimes it will feel as though people want you to be–as if your illness is something to be ashamed of.
In the vocabulary of your illness, don’t let sorry be the go-to phrase.
If you want to say “thank you for listening to me,” don’t say “sorry I talk so much.”
Finding your own voice amongst the bombardment of social expectations is hard. If you begin to feel overwhelmed or out-of-touch, move yourself to a quiet place. Take the time to think about exactly what it is you’re thinking and feeling. Try writing it down on a piece of paper, so you can reread it as necessary.
The idea of needing to come across a certain way when suffering from anxiety stems from the ever-present stigma surrounding the illness. Even in this modern day, there are still people who think mental health issues, including anxiety, aren’t real illnesses. They believe we should simply “calm down” or “cheer up.” As sufferers, we understand it’s not quite so easy, and we also understand anxiety can manifest itself in an infinite number of ways.
The more education and awareness around the topic of anxiety, the less we will experience the stigma associated with it.
One day, we will no longer have to explain ourselves and defend ourselves against the countless people telling us we’re not “suffering right.” This day will come, but for now, hold on to your voice.
No one experiences anxiety the same way, and this is why we must stand up to the stigma surrounding it, showing everyone the real voices behind the illness.
Anxiety does not have a voice, but you do.
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