Why do I have to talk?!
You don’t live on an island… as much as some of us would prefer to. You live in the real world where we have jobs with co-workers, families and friends; and then there are times when you have to be social and go to events. Times when you can’t stay at home alone waiting on the pizza guy. As much as you can and will do to mentally prepare yourself for these things, you know that there will be a point when your anxiety reaches levels where you have to walk away or deal with it the best you can.
And sometimes that doesn’t work.
You know it. I know it. The world… doesn’t.
The simple truth is: The average population does not understand anxiety disorders. They don’t know how to help you, what triggers are, what makes it worse… They just don’t know. And we are talking, mostly, about the people around you. The ones that care about you and want to make things ok.
If you don’t tell them, how will they know what they are seeing?
Talk about what?
Talk about what, when, where, why… how?
Start inside your comfort zone. Maybe that’s your spouse, your best bud, your brother, your dad… start with that person. And I say person on purpose. Don’t put yourself out there to a group, not at first. That will just open a line of questions and empty stares you aren’t prepared for. And just jump, it’s ok if you falter, it’s ok if you stumble, and it’s ok if you fall flat on your ass.
Don’t set yourself up for failure by creating a goal that may not be reachable. Your only goal here is to START the process.
Prepare yourself for the conversation. Know what you want to discuss, what you DON’T want to discuss and then do some research. Know your facts and don’t be afraid to simply say, “I don’t know”. No one expects you to have all the answers so you shouldn’t expect that of yourself.
Now, fight the urge to back out. Fight that last minute, standing there all deer in the headlights, stomach sinking urge to say “Fuck it” and run. This is your conversation. You make the rules, you set the tempo.
The last thing in the world I wanted to do was to tell someone about my diagnosis. What if they have questions? What if they run away from me? What if no one wants me knowing I’m fucked up? I’m not saying this isn’t scary, I’m just saying it’s worth it.
What to discuss…
Research is boring as hell, but don’t depend on the VA to explain it all to you, because they won’t.
When the average Joe Blow hears “Anxiety” or “PTSD” they are immediately putting you into a category of crazy you come no where close to reaching. Tell them that! Explain to them that anxiety is not just a disorder where you suddenly break out in a sweat and can’t breathe and lose your shit. Not all anxiety disorder attacks happen that way. But what do they know?… oh yeah, they don’t know shit. At certain times, people with anxiety may have these common symptoms: Dizziness, Muscle tension or pain, Restlessness, Sleeplessness, Trouble concentrating, Racing heartbeat, Fast breathing, Shaking or trembling, Stomachache, Diarrhea, Loss of energy, Sweating, Cold, clammy hands, Chest pain, or Dry mouth. But what about the uncommon ones? Moping behaviors, Agoraphobia, Compulsions, Nervous ticks, Irrational thoughts, Quick to anger, or Quick to tears. The lists are long, you may not even realize all the ways you exhibit your symptoms. Knowledge is power my friend… Do the work, read the boring reports, surf the internet for reputable sources and begin your quest of information.
Stick with the talks, the more you do it – the easier it will become. And remember that those that really care about you won’t be scared away by this; those that can’t handle it don’t need to be in your life anyhow. That’s a hard pill to swallow but it’s the truth. You have enough going on with just trying to figure out things for yourself, monitoring yourself… don’t surround yourself with people that don’t understand or can’t handle it because then you’ll spend all your time walking on egg shells around them. Who has that kind of time? Remember that you CAN do this. You’ve done harder things in your life, you’re stronger than you know.