Sunday, July 12, 2009

Should I Be Afraid?

I have an anxiety disorder. It's something I have lived with my entire life. It's something that I will probably deal with until the day I die. It's part of who I am and I know it's not normal, but I consider it rather normal for my life. I am plagued by fears that most people could brush off without thinking about it, but I can't seem to. I have learned to live with that and accept it. However, I have learned that not everyone is as comfortable with this as I am.

People seem to be scared of the idea of a mental disorder. I am not sure if they are afraid that I will completely lose control and be unable to handle things in life or if they are just afraid of seeing a bit of themselves in me. The unknown is very frightening, especially when it comes to something so dark and mysterious. Afterall, with something like diabetes or cancer, we at least know what causes it and why it happens, and that seems to make it easier for some people to deal with those diseases. Mine isn't so cut and dry. The experts aren't completely sure what causes my problems, nor is it clear why it affects some people and not others.

However, I can assure you that there is nothing to be afraid of with my anxiety. First of all, it's not contagious. You can't catch it from being around me. It's not deadly. I won't fall over dead one day from a panic attack. In fact, I have found that the worst of situations don't even merit an anxiety attack for me- I seem to wait until things are fine before I fall apart. You may not understand it, but I can assure you that I am not all that different from anyone else. I have the same fears and worries, stress and tension, just for whatever reason, my body doesn't handle it quite the way that it should. There are many like me, some diagnosed and some not, who are out there. You have seen them and interacted with them though you might not have known it. It could be your sister, brother, father, mother, best friend, school teacher, or cashier at the grocery store. It doesn't affect just one type of person or race, it's across the board.

Should you be afraid of someone with a mental disorder? Nope. There's nothing to fear. Instead, love, understand, and care for the person. Help if you can and take your cues from them on how to help.