When it hits you there’s a physical blow that simply feels too similar to a punch to dismiss. The area of impact stiffens but the contents of your stomach and heart drips downward into your shoes as you try to remember how to stand without tipping to one side.

People don’t see the scuffle between you and a seemingly small hurdle in the path of success (an unexpected letter, meeting a new and intimidating person, being late). Of course they don’t. It’s an invisible battle that you’re losing with silent screams. You need to sit down. You need time to think of all the calamitous things that’ll happen now the plan has changed. You were ready to eat like a dog now you can vomit like one, dry retching until tears flow.

Everything is dismissed with an anxiety punch. Anything enjoyable has fallen away. Important tasks are made inferior to this single worry. If you don’t do it now then it’ll grow worse and worse and you definitely know how that goes. You’re breathing like you’re running for your life and in a way you are. But you’re losing to something other people dismiss with a hand wave and a lazy command of ‘it doesn’t really matter, does it?’ These are the people who expect you to stand up from losing your intestines in your shoes and go one being fine. It’s only anxiety, they say. It doesn’t mean anything. Just don’t worry about. Just don’t worry about it. You’re just a worry wart.

I’m not the fighting kind. A punch like this always knocks me off my feet. And even in the plain day nobody sees how I struggle beneath the anxiety punch. Even now I find it hard to breath or write or simply stand still without breaking into tears. I have yet to retrieve my heart from my stomach. It beats like a drum there. The worry is paralyzing. I don’t know how I can cope now.