Dear Anxiety,

Today my boyfriend’s father, Sonny, would be turning 66 years old. Today his family is going to one of Sonny’s favorite restaurants to celebrate his life. Today I am staying home in the comfort of my bed, watching YouTube breathing exercise videos. Today I had to tell my boyfriend I can’t make it out of my house, because of my anxiety. Because of you. I hate you, Anxiety.

I feel guilty, embarrassed, disappointed, and scared. I hate you, Anxiety.

I live every day with one goal: Do not let anxiety win. Never stop living. Today you won. I feel like a loser, a terrible girlfriend and a weak human. Yet, I am relieved. You won, and I don’t have to leave my bed. My comfort space. I hate you for winning, Anxiety.

Everyone who suffers from anxiety probably knows you must work through your anxiousness and panic attacks, and continue on with life. Social anxiety? Go to more parties. Driving anxiety? Drive more. Trigger locations? Go often. Everyone who suffers from anxiety also knows it’s just not that easy. You make the easiest things so hard, Anxiety. I hate you so much.

My first panic attack happened seven years ago, when I was a junior in college. It was confusing, terrifying, and memorable. I didn’t understand what was happening or what was wrong with my body. I thought I was dying. I told my father my “final goodbyes” as he rushed me to the emergency room. This is the day I was diagnosed with anxiety. You came into my life, and you haven’t left. I hate you, Anxiety.

Anxiety, you have taken over my life. My constant worry about a possible anxiety attack makes life dark and difficult. Anxiety about having anxiety is a vicious cycle. I HATE you.

I wish I could say seven years of suffering has taught me how to get control of you, but I have not come close. At 27, I am now in the process of accepting you, Anxiety, as part of me forever and always. There is a good chance that I will carry you for the rest of my life, and that thought gives me anxiety. I hate you for doing this to me.

Everyone who has this illness, suffers in their each personal way. When my anxiety is high, my heart starts to ache and beat super fast. My left arm starts hurting. I then immediately prepare to have a heart attack. I start to lose my breath and my body goes numb. I keep one hand on my neck at all times, so I can feel my pulse. I tell myself everything is okay, it’s only anxiety. Then another voice in my head asks “Would if it’s not? Would if this is really is a heart attack?” Then my anxiety increases even higher. My face turns red, I can’t breathe, I can’t move, and can’t speak. It may start out on my head, but anxiety attacks are very real, and much more than a thought. Why are you doing this to me, Anxiety? I hate you.

Most of my anxiety attacks have no concrete antecedent. I have had attacks while driving. I’ve had them at work. I’ve had them at concerts. I’ve had them at restaurants. I’ve had them from my bed. Sometimes there is a cause, but more often than not, they just happen and there’s no reason why. It’s not fair and I hate you, Anxiety.

People without anxiety can’t fully understand what it’s like to live every day on a level of fear and worry, but they can educate themselves and open their mind to acceptance. Accepting that this is a true illness, that it’s not in our head, that we can’t just get over it, that we are scared. The best thing for anyone to do in the presence of someone having an anxiety attack is to listen. Make no judgement, remain calm, and listen. Keeping in mind, we didn’t choose this. Anxiety chose us. We hate you, Anxiety.

There’s medicines, therapy, lifestyle changes, and meditation to help one cope with this illness, but I simply haven’t found anything that works for me. What do we do when we can’t be cured? Will my mind ever be free? Will this ever stop? Please go away, Anxiety.

I know that I must accept and keep living. Today anxiety won. Today I failed. Tomorrow I fight again.

I wish you would go away. I hate you more than you’ll ever know. Please leave me alone, Anxiety.

Your Servant,

27 years old from Baltimore