I paid it forward yesterday. I decided that I wanted to do something nice and I paid for the person behind me at Starbucks. I should have felt really good about it, right? I mean, I wanted to make that person’s morning a little more bearable and thought it’d make them happy.
But then my anxiety kicked in when I didn’t see them pull away from the window right away. Were they upset I bought their drink and now they felt obligated to pay for the person behind them? Were they questioning why I did it? Were they embarrassed?
I can’t think of many people who would be upset if someone bought their coffee for them so I know these thoughts aren’t rational. Anxiety can be hard to understand sometimes; like why I was I thinking all of these crazy thoughts? I don’t know. I don’t have an explanation for it. Sometimes I feel like my mind is at constant battle with itself and it second guesses and questions every single choice I make. It can be exhausting when it happens all day everyday.
Did I lock the car?
Did I close the garage?
Am I going to be late?
Where’s my debit card?
Are they looking at me?
Do they like me?
Are they mad at me?
Why didn’t they respond to my text?
Was their Facebook status about me?
Wait how is it 10 p.m. already? I still have so much to do.
Did I unplug my curling iron?
Did I set the alarm?
You guys, these are my thoughts every single day. Sometimes I feel absolutely crazy. This is something I’ve been dealing with the past few years but throw in the panic disorder and it’s a whole new ballgame.
I’m still nervous to drive.
I’m still nervous when I feel a part of my body go numb or tingle.
I’m still nervous something bad is going to happen.
I’m still afraid there’s something more to this panic disorder than simply being panic disorder.
It’s gotten SO much better and I feel like for the most part, I have it under control. But there are times when I get nervous or feel funny and immediately start to worry. And I know that can sound completely silly to anyone that doesn’t have anxiety or really understand it. But to me and anyone who suffers from anxiety, the fear is real and the worry is constant.
There was a point in my life when I judged people a lot. I think sometimes we do it without even realizing we’re doing it. Almost like human nature. And hell, I’m not perfect and sometimes I still catch myself doing it. But I try and remind myself that I don’t know their story. That having an illness doesn’t always come in the form of physical ailment. And that I need to be more understanding, kind, and patient with others. Because I want people to do the same for me.
It feels weird saying I have an illness and I don’t like to or want to call it that. But it is. It effects my life, every single day, some days more than others. We’re all fighting our own battles and this just happens to be mine.
I didn’t think paying for someone’s coffee would remind me that sometimes, even the simplest things can set my anxiety off. But it did. And sometimes it’s these little moments that are more significant than the big moments because it reminds me of how much my life is affected by it. Which also serves as another reminder to stop before I think I know anything about someone else’s life.
But my hopes for sharing my story and my struggle are that more people will understand anxiety is real. There aren’t necessarily signs and we don’t walk around with scarlet letters on our foreheads. But there are more of us than you may think. So just be sensitive when your friend makes you turn around to check if she closed her garage or can’t go into Starbucks because she’s feeling uncomfortable for no reason at all.
Or when she tries to pay it forward and then immediately questions whether it was the right thing to do or not.