By Holly Riordan
No one realizes she has anxiety because she is still able to function. On the outside, she looks like everybody else. She has a job. She has friends. She has a good personality. She is fun to be around, as long as she feels comfortable.
No one realizes she has anxiety because she never uses it as an excuse. When she isn’t in the mood to socialize with friends, she will lie about feeling under the weather or being swamped with work. She will never admit the real reason why she has been hiding herself away in her room.
No one realizes she has anxiety because whenever she feels uncomfortable in social situations, she digs crescents into her palms, she chews down hard on her tongue, she taps her foot faster and faster. She does little things that go unnoticed by most people. They never look at her close enough to see that she is struggling.
No one realizes she has anxiety because they assume she is quiet. Shy. They don’t realize how difficult it is for her to speak in front of crowds — or even in front of a group of close friends. They don’t realize that her reluctance to socialize goes further than shyness.
No one realizes she has anxiety because she hides herself away whenever it gets bad. She will escape to the bathroom to splash water on her face. She will escape to her car to hyperventilate. She will escape to her bedroom to cry tears of frustration. But she will never do those things in public. She will never do those things when others are around to watch.
No one realizes she has anxiety because she doesn’t like to talk about it. She never brings it up in conversation, because she isn’t sure if the people surrounding her would understand. She doesn’t want to confuse them. She doesn’t want to bother them. And she certainly doesn’t want them to start treating her any differently.
No one realizes she has anxiety because she has ventured beyond her comfort zone before. She has given speeches in front of classrooms. She has traveled across the country on her own. She has initiated conversations with strangers. She doesn’t look like she has a problem, because she has accomplished incredible things despite the fear her anxiety made her feel at the time. Things she never thought she would be able to do.
No one realizes she has anxiety because she has learned to live with it. She has learned how much socializing she can handle before she needs to take a break. She has learned when to leave a party early. She has learned how to avoid unwanted conversations. She has learned how to deal with her anxiety as best as she can.
No one realizes she has anxiety — but even if they did, it wouldn’t make a difference to them. She is kind. She is sweet. She is smart. Knowing she has anxiety wouldn’t change any of that. It wouldn’t make them love her any less.