By Holly Riordan
Handling my emotions alone makes me feel isolated, like no one else could possibly understand how I’m feeling.
But I rarely reach out to friends, even though I know I would feel better if I had someone to rant to, if I called someone on the phone and let all of my problems slip from my lips.
Reaching out to someone who cares about me would be a relief. It would make me feel like I’m a little less alone. It would make my nights easier to get through.
But I don’t like to admit that I’m upset, to let other people see me at my weakest. Because as soon as my heart rate slows, as soon as I’m calm again and can see the world clearly, I’m hit with a wave of embarrassment.
The twenty texts I sent. The whiny comments I made. The deep, dark secrets I revealed. They’re all embarrassing as shit.
As soon as my attack ends, everything I said suddenly feels so stupid. I can finally see the way I looked through the other person’s eyes. I can see how psycho I must have seemed. How pathetic.
Do you want to know why I pretend I’m fine when I’m dying inside, why I smile when I’m secretly fighting back tears?
Because I don’t want to say something I regret later. Because I don’t want to look like a complete idiot in front of the people I love the most.
And, honestly, I wouldn’t even know how to explain why I’m feeling the way I feel. I can never pinpoint exactly what’s going on in my mind.
If I let you know how much I’ve been suffering, you’d ask the wrong questions. Why are you upset? What caused this to happen? What aren’t you telling me?
And when I was unable to answer you, you’d get annoyed, you’d get suspicious, you’d feel like I’m hiding something — because you don’t understand how I don’t understand myself.
But that’s the truth. I don’t understand why my heart beats so hard out of nowhere. Why a crowded room makes me feel so claustrophobic. Why I’m scared of things no one else thinks twice about.
I don’t know how to describe those moments when I feel an intense need to escape, when every laugh I hear or person I see makes me want to scratch my own eyes out, when all I want to do is run back home.
That’s why I don’t tell anyone how I’m feeling. I don’t know what I would actually say.
So whenever I suffer from anxiety, I keep to myself. I crawl into my bedroom and cry out of fear and frustration — or I sit there in silence, staring at the wall, wishing I had the energy to cry, wishing there was a way to release all my unwanted emotions so the nightmare would be over. So the stress could leave my body and I could move on with my life.
Maybe I should be more open with my friends and family. Or maybe I should just see a therapist. In fact, I know I should.
But for now, I’ll keep pretending I can handle all this alone.