When you tell people you suffer from anxiety, most people assume you deal with something like generalized anxiety disorder. And I think oftentimes they would be right. But the definition of generalized anxiety never quite felt right to me.
All the descriptions of GAD that I have read have to do with worrying more than is reasonable over a wide variety of topics. While I worry about a few different things, for the most part, mine isn’t generalized. Mine always felt specific. Way too specific. My mind would hone in on something and no matter what I would try, I couldn’t shake it. My anxiety had this thought in its crosshairs and it wouldn’t let it go.
Mine always felt more like obsessive compulsive disorder, and every diagnosis I ever had kind of wavered between the two. No one would confirm it because I didn’t exactly have textbook OCD, and yet no one would rule it out either.
It can get frustrating — this feeling of being caught between the two. Desperately I would search for pieces of me in descriptions of afflictions I would read from others. I guess part of me wanted the validation of having the exact and specific symptoms of a specific disorder. As if that really exists.
But I think a large part of me just wanted to feel less alone. I wanted to know that the crazy thoughts that went through my head and that the ridiculous worries that plagued me were shared by some other human being in the world. I wanted to rest in the knowledge that I wasn’t actually the only one suffering from this.
Because it never felt like that to me. To me, it felt like the workings of my mind were lunacy and that no other self respecting person could possibly entertain these worries.
And well… I must say that I’m still searching. I still haven’t found the piece written by the kindred soul who shares these trials. I haven’t found the mirror someone else is holding up that will let me see myself somewhere out there. I still feel a bit like the lunatic – the person who people would gasp at should I lift the veil and expose my actual and true worries. The circus freak.
But my hope is that when I do find that mirror, that kindred soul, that I will also find a bit of forgiveness for myself – forgiveness for not being able to banish the demons and for letting them crop up in the first place. Forgiveness for not letting my intellect always win out. Forgiveness for falling for the fears and for letting them guide me upon occasion. But most of all forgiveness for having the notion of the worries in the first place. For having allowed my brain to think them up.
And my other hope is that while I haven’t found my mirror yet that I can help be that for others. So for all of you searching for your kindred spirits, take a look at this from Bored Panda. It’s a visual representation of multiple mental health conditions. Perhaps you will find your home within the drawings.
I think perhaps the loneliest place in this world is inside of our own minds. But luckily we have our words and our art and our hearts to help bridge the largest of gaps. As long as we keep talking and keep sharing, we will never truly be alone.