People without mental illness often struggle to comprehend what it is that makes us so anxious about some of the smallest events. What runs through our minds at the point of sheer panic? What makes us retract into our own shell of nerves and worry? Where did this awful leg twitch come from, or why are his palms so sweaty?
It’s often difficult to vocalise exactly what is going on at that time, the moment of sheer panic as your brain races to come up with a ‘get out of jail free’ card, looking for an instant release from what you’re feeling. For me, as previously spoken about, I have a fear of fainting brought on my physical symptoms of a panic attack, and I’m yet to meet someone with the same fear (I’m sure there are many, I’m not trying to claim it as my own!), so when I’m asked to do something simple, sometimes thoughts race through my head that, to those of a sound mind, may seem incomprehensible. So I wanted to put a Q&A together to explain some situations. These consist of the question, your external answer (what you say) and internal answer (what you feel and want to say). So:
Q: ‘Fancy coming out for a drink with me and a few friends tomorrow? You don’t know them but they’re a laugh’
EA: ‘I can’t tomorrow I’m busy sorry’
IA: ‘I so wish I could, but what if they don’t like me? What if I say something stupid and make myself look an idiot? What if I have a panic attack and have to run out. I can’t risk it. I’m just not ready’
Q: ‘Are you alright hosting this meeting? I’ve got to shoot out’
EA: ‘yea that’s fine I’ll manage’
IA: ‘oh god what if I panic? What if I feel faint and have to go lie down quick? I don’t think I can do this, oh god I feel sick’
Q: ‘Shall we pop into town? Do a bit of shopping?’
EA: ‘I don’t really feel like it today’
IA: ‘I couldn’t handle it, all those people. What if it’s too crowded? What if I’m trapped in a shop and can’t get out. Where would I go if I started to panic??’
These are just a few examples of how an every day event or activity can create an anxiety that is not only difficult to deal with, but in many cases is debilitating.
So next time you ask your friend ‘fancy going out?’ and they don’t seem that bothered, they probably are, it’s just that anxiety wants to make life difficult for that small time.
And if you relate to the above, it can get easier. Don’t ever apologise for having anxiety. You wouldn’t apologise if you had a physical illness, so don’t apologise for a mental one.