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Since I've struggled to find some balance between dealing with anxiety and maintaining old friendships and fostering new ones, I thought I'd share what I've learned along the way.
And that's to just be honest.
Of course, it's always best to be honest. No matter the situation, no matter the consequences. But when it comes to the mental state, it's harder to simply broadcast what you're going through, honestly.
So over the years, I've done what people would call "flaked" on friends, or events, or people who reached out to get to know me, simply because I let my anxiety get the best of me. Sometimes, just sitting through a normal school day was exhausting due to dealing with my unmanaged anxiety that I simply didn't want to feel that way anymore. So I'd start fleeing from potential situations that would cause all those impending feelings of doom.
Sure, I was always working to combat those fears. I'd force myself out of my comfort zone and attend a camp for the weekend, take a class that involved public speaking, or hang out with a new group of people. But those things for me were not easy. So other times I would dodge similar situations.
Nobody won this way. Feelings got hurt. And I was quickly paving a path of earning myself a reputation that didn't accurately reflect who I was.
But I didn't want to tell people what I was going through. Because it's embarrassing and people who don't struggle with anxiety simply don't understand. They try to paint a logical picture that I've already tried to paint myself. But the anxiety never fails to blur the picture.
In recent months, in dealing with the postpartum anxiety and depression, I've learned I simply have to be honest with people.
When I hadn't followed up with a friend who I was supposed to get together with, I told her what I had been going through and thanked her for her friendship. Of course, she was understanding and quick to offer help in any way she could.
Be honest with people. Let them know the real you even if that means an uncomfortable conversation. I've been called insensitive, self-absorbed, rude, and all sorts of things simply because I have let my anxiety get the best of me.
Don't let your fears form your reputation. Be seen for who you really are.