*Note: I do not have anxiety and do not know, nor understand completely how it feels or the actions and experiences that come with this disorder. I wrote this piece after witnessing and trying to calm my partner having a severe anxiety attack. I do not aim to express what anxiety feels like, but rather the outside, how the people without the disorder feel and try to understand when the people they love experience the worst.
There is no cause, there is no warning. It comes slowly, creeping from the corner of your eye. The darkness. At first, you brush it off, it’s just a shadow. There it is again. No. Leave. Your world somehow seems shaded, colder. It’s nothing. Blink. Again. It’s coming. It brushes your skin and sends a shiver down your side. It’s coming. Fear. Its stalking you, listening to your heart beat faster, hearing the sound of your breath louder, watching you flinch at the movement of a shadow. It’s coming. It laughs at you, sinister, cold, hungry for you. It’s coming. The sound takes over, fills your head, grasping to the fear inside and dragging it towards your heart. It’s coming. Brush…flinch…laugh. It’s surrounding you, circling you, waiting for a moment to strike. No. Stop. It’s coming. Anger. You lash out, swiping at anything, anyone in your path, hoping, praying, pleading, anything but this. It’s coming. Darkness. It’s coming. Fear. It’s coming. You scream.
You’re captured, it rips out your soul and drags it from this world into another, a world of black, a world of monsters. Dark, faceless, creatures that even your nightmares fear, surround you. Everywhere you look. You are out of reach from this world. Your body left behind, a vessel of pure emotion, a mirror image of the anguish of your soul. You’re screaming, crying, suffocating in front of my eyes and I cannot save you. I yell, I plead at you. Are you alright? What’s wrong? Stop doing that. Calm down. Stop. Stop. Stop. Please. What’s wrong? You don’t hear me. You aren’t listening. The darkness is all.
I cannot see the monsters only their effect on you. You claw at your skin, pull at your hair, scrunch your face up tight and lock your jaw. You cry, you scream, you push me away. Leave. Leave. Leave. Leave. Go. Go. Please just go. Go away. Leave. Please. I can’t. I can’t. Please. Leave. GO! I want to help you but you don’t see me worry, I care about you but you don’t think it’s why I stay. It’s not me you see. You see the monsters, the darkness. It is the reason you fight, the reason you claw, pull, scrunch and lock. I only see madness. They’re screaming at you, your worst fears, your insecurities, your failures, your problems. Over and over and over. Stupid. Worthless. Fat. Ugly. Pathetic. Useless. Annoying. Loser. Louder, closer…NO! I cannot hear, I cannot know, I cannot imagine, and I cannot understand. In this world, you’re irrational, unreasonable, doubting, believing monsters’ taunting, reciting, repeating and accepting. Why do you listen? Why do you believe the monsters? You are not these things; you are so much more. Please listen to me. Smart. Important. Beautiful. Kind. Strong. Special. Fun. Loving. Friend. I say, I write, I whisper, I scream, I know, I believe. None of these words get through to you. The darkness is all.
Come back to me. Please. I don’t understand. I don’t know how to help you. Please tell me what to do. No. Don’t. Stop. Go away. This is all you say. I want to help. Let me bring back the light. Let me fight with you. No. Don’t. Stop. Go away. This is all you say. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. What can I do? I don’t understand. Why won’t you let me in? You push me away again and again. Confusion. You’re out of reach. I don’t understand. Desperation. I push you, I hurt you. I don’t mean to but nothing else is working. Of course this doesn’t help, but I’m so lost. Frustration. I yell, I cry, I push. COME BACK TO ME! Nothing gets through to you. The darkness is all.
I leave…like you said. To me? To the darkness? I do not know. I’m so lost. I don’t understand. I never will. I’m sorry, though I’m not sure why, it just sounds right to say. I know it’s not my fault. I know. But I am not a part of that world, I have never been. I cannot help you. I am scared. I am worried. I love you. What if one day…you don’t return?
I don’t know how and I don’t know when but you come back. And it’s like it never happened. The darkness surrenders you to the light and your soul returns. Your eyes are brighter, your breathing returns to normal and you are calm. You don’t seem to know how terrible it is in that world. Don’t you see that you’re wounded? Don’t you see that I’m upset? You believe that the darkness won’t return. It will. I know. I’ve seen it. Again and again. It’s coming.