Somehow, these two things seem to be mutually exclusive. It seems crazy to imagine a successful, confident person suffering from anxiety. I am not talking about a bit of nervousness before a presentation; or some test anxiety. I am referring to the crippling anxiety that causes an inability to eat, weight loss, loss of focus, depression – you know that kind of anxiety.
I think about this now because I am experiencing it. I have some things going on in my professional life that are causing extreme anxiety. I can’t eat, I have lost six pounds in a week, I can’t sleep, I am always tired, and there is a constant ball of dread in my stomach.
I also feel so alone. My husband has been a great support, I have no complaints about him, but he also doesn’t understand the politics at my workplace so he can only empathize so much. I tried to open up to a co-worker, but because I usually exude confidence I just got told “everything will be fine, don’t worry about it. You are always so sure of yourself, why are your worrying about this?” Which, let’s be honest, is less than helpful.
This experience got me thinking about mental health today. Everyone accepts that mental health issues are a growing concern, and the number of people suffering is high, but we always seem to think that people who are suffering will show outward signs. How many people are going through an acute mental health concern without any support.
I talk about anxiety specifically because that is my lived experience. I know that this is a short term problem for me and that my anxiety will either recede or shift once this issue is resolved in a few weeks, but until then I suffer in silence.