0 to 100 / Anxiety alert

I have never experienced anxiety the way I have this past year. Some days I feel anxious about everything going on around me, so much so that it consumes my every thought. Some things are constantly in the back of my mind and no matter how hard I try, they never truly go away.

Then there are days I couldn’t care less about anything. I do not care about getting good marks in my classes; I do not care about my adult responsibilities that lay on my back like boulders and I lack the energy to “live life to the fullest” as so many corny people quote on Facebook. I just do not care.

This feeling of disconnection is relatively new and started just after I came forward to my religious family about being agnostic. Back then, I thought the weight on my chest would leave me forever, but it did not. It only transformed into a different kind of pain that now rests in my stomach.

The indifference fluctuates. There are days I feel a little better than others, where I get a little bit of free time to spend with friends or my niece and nephew. For a while I forget about my worries and anxieties, and life as a whole feels lighter. Things look up, and I do not feel the weight of my responsibilities, nor the dread of living day-to-day feeling like everything I do is aimless or has no greater purpose.

What makes me feel happiest is being around those I love, who encourage me, are consistently there for me and try their best to bring out the positive qualities in me I sometimes forget I have. Relationships like these make it all worthwhile. And I guess that’s just it: if you feel lost or anxious or upset, keep close to whatever it is that gives you good feelings, whatever makes you happy to be alive.

More open discussions about matters of mental disorders, anxiety and depression need to be brought forward. Too many people fear seeking help because of social stigma and lack of support among other reasons. I think if we felt we could be more honest with ourselves and those around us, and were also encouraged to be more in tune with our mental health, more of us would feel inclined to seek the help we need.

Too many people suffering- from anxiety, depression and other mental disorders are told to simply “stay positive” or to “think about how good they have it,” but these are not, nor will they ever be, realistic solutions.

Mental illnesses do not cause a person to suddenly have weird “off” days once in a blue moon. They are feelings of real hopelessness, loneliness and indifference, and they need to be taken as seriously as physical ailments.

If someone comes to you with trust in their hands like an open wound, open yourself up to them and their struggles. Be there for them. You do not have to pretend you understand what they are going through, but you can be the person that lets them rest their head on your shoulder to feel okay for a little while. Sometimes, that is enough.

Life feels like too much to bear at times, and being surrounded by those who genuinely want the best for us and encourage us to get help can feel like a saving grace. There is something fulfilling and comforting in knowing you can be someone’s safe space. You can be the person they feel comfortable, open and truly at peace around.

Being present in someone’s life when they need you most is the best gift you can give them. You are not expected to give advice or say everything will be okay. You are not expected to be a hero in a cape. You just have to be there.