I am tired of people telling me that I am afraid of everything, because frankly that is not the case. Seriously, listen to me – that is not the case. And I don’t have time for the people in my life who don’t try to understand the complexities of mental health and phobia.
With that being said, I am writing this post because I think it’s important for me to speak out against those who get the shallow impression that I am ‘scared of everything’. Because I most definitely am not. I’m one of the strongest people I know and I would take a bullet for any of my friends and family.
Anyone can shoot me down (in the most cliche way possible), but everyone knows that only the weakest find superiority in curtailing other people’s achievements. Strength and courage are not shallow concepts and they should not be measured as if they aren’t deeper than that.
It takes an incredible amount of strength to live with any form of anxiety or mental illness, let alone make that aspect of your life public. Calling anyone ‘fearful’ is inherently insulting, no matter the intention. People with anxiety are already hyperaware of the judgement that is prevalent in society. When I hear people use words such as ‘fearful’ or ‘scared’ to describe my personality (and experience with hypochondria), I am re-affirmed of the fact that I am surrounded by stigma.
An open letter to those who have ever undermined my strength:
I am not the sum of my worst ‘fears’. I am not my mental illness. People say this all the time, and the reason you might repetitively hear it is because people don’t seem to get it. Some of my own family members think fear is a primary part of my character, when they’ve known me all my life. If you still don’t get it, I’ll repeat it for you; my phobias are not me.
If you don’t know who I am by now, then frankly, I feel sorry for you.
You are frustrating, you are inhibiting, and you are replicating the very forces in society that I have spent my time rejecting and trying to push back against. And you clearly do not understand the amount of courage and strength that it takes to attempt any act of resistance. (And fuck, it even takes strength to not resist.)
I am just one of millions of people who are so incredibly strong because they live in a society that tells them they aren’t. Yes, I have a phobia of chemicals, of driving, and I get anxiety and constantly think I have cancer, and if you think living with that mentality makes me weak, you don’t know what it takes to endure. I am strong. And if you think I’m not: kindly eject yourself from my life or change your stigmatic attitude.