Sam, September 11, 2019

"By telling me just to 'relax' or 'chill', you are downplaying my illness and the significance it has on my daily life."

Many people think that people like me, with anxiety or depression can wake up one day and decide to ‘get better’. That I can wake up one day and decide to ‘smile, drink coffee and deal with it’. But anxiety isn’t something that I can just ‘turn off’. 

Anxiety isn’t something that I choose to have on a Monday and choose to not have on a Sunday. Anxiety isn’t a decision. It isn’t a voluntary thing that I want in my life day in and day out. I can’t just ‘choose to be happy’.

Some days, I am free from it. I seem to think I am in the clear and maybe, just maybe, it will be gone for good. But it creeps up when I am not looking. It shows up in the darkest corner of my mind. It jumps out in front of me, right when I am getting comfortable, without any warning.

Anxiety doesn’t have a pause button in my mind. Depression doesn’t have a shut off button on my brain and they most definitely do not have any eject buttons. By telling me to just ‘relax’ or ‘chill’, you are downplaying my illness and the significance it has on my daily life. You are saying that anxiety is not something to take seriously. That it’s not a real illness and that it’s not something to truly worry about.

Please stop telling me to smile when I don’t know how. Stop telling me to turn on upbeat music and choose to be happy. Stop telling me that I have nothing to worry about, when worry is all I know how to do. Stop judging how I feel if you have idea what I am going through. You will never know how I feel unless you spend a day in my shoes and a day in my mind. You will never know what I go through inside of my brain every second of the day. You will never know how it feels to be plagued with a dark cloud that follows you around all the time.

So before you try to make me feel better by telling me to ‘chill’, please remember that anxiety is a mental illness. Depression is a mental illness. It is an illness. Not an outlook on life. Not a ‘stage’ I am going to get out of. And not a cry for attention.

Believe me, I would ‘take a chill pill’ if I could. I would relax. I would chill. If I had the ability to, I would do it as fast as I could.

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