When Anxiety Feels Like You’re Drowning Above Water

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Maryann Rotondo

Have you ever felt the sensation of drowning? The water consuming your body? Your arms flailing, desperate to grasp on to something to help you up? You gasping for air as you try your hardest to keep your head above water? No one is there to help you. You have no life jacket. You’re just there… stuck. Fighting to breathe. Fighting to live.

Imagine feeling that way every single day of your life. The feeling hits out of nowhere and can last minutes, hours or days. That’s what my anxiety feels like. That’s what my reality is.

Getting out of bed each day feels like a chore. My body aches and my insides scream. Any tasks I know I should do make me feel helpless. Once I gather up enough energy to get out of bed, then it’s an internal battle with myself.

“Should I just get back in bed?”

“You can do this.”

“You’re stronger than this.”

“You’re a rockstar.”

“You’re weak.”

My mind floods with all different thoughts. Positive ones, negative ones — ones that mean nothing at all.

When I finally convince myself that I can take on the day — no matter how tiring, — I put on a smile and fool the world. Do you know how difficult it is to force yourself to smile when all you want to do is cry? When all you want to do is scream out for help? But nobody listens. Nobody notices. Nobody cares. Nobody cares that I got out of bed in the morning when all I wanted to do was sleep all day. Nobody cares that I worked my shift at work and did a good job. Nobody cares that I had to lock myself in the bathroom and talk myself down from a panic attack. Nobody cares that I cleaned the kitchen and bathroom.

All everyone else says is, “You shouldn’t be so tired.” “You should get a second job. A part-time job isn’t enough.” “You need to get up and clean.” It feels like brick after brick is stacked on my shoulders with each ignorant comment. The words that cut so deep swirl around my head, and replay over and over. “You’re lazy.” “You’re not domestic at all.” “Stop being a baby and be an adult.”

No one understands. They don’t care enough to try to. So each day I wake up, I face my nightmare again. But I know how strong I am. I know what I’ve overcome. I know what achievements I’ve made. I’m proud when am clean the kitchen or bathroom. I’m proud when I go to work. I’m proud when I smile even though I want to cry. I’m proud that I haven’t “drowned.” Sometimes, I need help. Sometimes, I can’t do it alone. But there’s nothing wrong with that.

Maybe one day, everyone will see how strong I really am…

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