I cannot drive to the mall. Well I could drive to the mall, there isn’t anything stopping me physically. But my brain halts me every time. This is the problem I face though, because people can’t physically see the issue, there is no issue.
See when I sit behind the wheel of a car I think I’m going to die, or worse kill someone else. So it’s already hard enough for me to drive on back roads. But after a traumatic experience when I was first learning to drive I am unable to change lanes without having a full on panic attack.
Even though my mom knows I cannot drive to the mall (because I need to change lanes) she still tells me every time without fail, “You can do it. You are capable and should be able to.”
To some this may seem like an encouragement. Like she is cheering me on and telling me I am equip to do something I’m not so sure about. But when she says that I hear, “Everyone else can do that. You should be able to so why can’t you?”
If I was blind I could show her, “I can’t see so I can’t drive.” But anxiety is different. People don’t understand that when I say, “I can’t.” I mean, “My brain won’t let me.”
Telling someone with anxiety or depression that they should be able to do things or pushing them to do more is harmful to their already fragile psyche. Imagine someone coming up to you and telling you how inadequate of a person you are. That wouldn’t feel so good.
What I crave is acceptance from my parents. I want them to tell me it is okay I can’t do what most can and to celebrate my little victories. Being isolated is the worst feeling and it just adds to my anxiety and depression. So next time someone tells you “I can’t.” Don’t question it.