I went to lunch with a friend today and we talked about some recent difficulties she has been going through with an anxiety disorder. She expressed that scary feeling of being all alone in her struggle. You know, that little nagging voice in the back of your head saying "you're the only one to have ever gone through this. You must be crazy!" What a voice to fight with on top of an already awful emotional time in her life. I was quick to nod as she described what she was going through - that all-too-familiar doom and gloom, the panic feeling that builds and builds until your entire body feels electrically charged, in the worst way possible. I think that she was surprised to hear that she wasn't as alone as her brain had told her. If there is anything I have learned and am always learning during my own struggles with anxiety, it is that my problems are far from isolated. I have countless family and friends that experience the same anxieties.
What is it about our brains and bodies that convince us that we're crazy, that we're weirdos, that we're all alone? The longer you sit with yourself, brain working away, the more convinced you are that your problems are larger than life and that they're entirely unique to you. I often find that the moment I open up about a problem, the quicker I find that there are so many people around me that have experienced it, heard of it, or have amazing advice on how to deal with it. Relationship issues? Never unique. Anxiety disorders? Hardly solo experiences (think 20% of the young adult to 20-something population). Sadness and hardship? We all go through it.
I think that the most important thing to do when you're going through something hard is to share your struggles. The more you reach out, ask for help, and let others know what you're going through, the more you'll find that you are increasingly less alone. The more you keep your thoughts to yourself, the more you legitimize them. I am struggling through my own anxiety disorder, I have friends struggling through their own, and family fighting their own battles. We anything but alone.
"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." - Ian Maclaren