The anxiety shuts me down and shuts me off and I feel like I’m only a shadow, a hint of a person these days, hiding in dark crevices and hugging the shade. I scurry away from people, concerned that they will see what happens underneath, knowing that I come across as odd and unfriendly but unable to make any of the changes I know I should. The depression feeds the anxiety and the panic rises and shuts me down so I am simply an empty shell feeling into corners where no one notices and no one enquires.

And the need to talk battles with the need to not burden. On my own, I can rationally explain my feelings and my needs and my wishes but face-to-face with another person and those words don’t come. Some of them shouldn’t. No one should have to face the knowledge that every time I hear of a death on the news, there is a pang of jealousy and then a wave of guilt – guilt that I think that way and guilt that I am alive when I don’t particularly wish to be, don’t need to be, when the person whose place I would take if I could has loved ones and will be missed. No one should have to know that I am covered in lines of cuts and patches of bruises and that the strap of my watch hides its own dirty little secret.

But I would like someone to know that when I say “no, I don’t need someone to sit with me”, “no, don’t worry I’ll be fine”, I don’t mean it. Above all I would like someone to sit with me, I would someone to seek me out and check I’m OK, narcissistic as that sounds and is. What a difference it would make right now if someone just knocked on my door when I didn’t appear for meals and checked I was alright. Even if someone texted or put aside a plate for later. And last week, when I texted and said I couldn’t join friends because I was panicking and heading to A&E, I know I said that I didn’t need you to come and so I don’t blame you for not coming but I wish you had. I wish people understood that the panicking and shutting down makes it hard to ask for help when it’s the thing I want the most.

Dealing with this on my own is impossible. I wish I could find a way to tell people that.


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