I can(‘t) do this

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It’s fucking embarrassing needing help.

I’m a 26 year old white woman from a middle-class family. On paper I’m able-bodied, I have a safe home and just enough money to squeak by every month. I shouldn’t need anything.

And yet, my knees hurt so badly sometimes I can’t leave my three-storey walk-up to get groceries. When my heart starts pounding and my chest tightens, I need to pull over my car before I get too dizzy and find another way home.  When that dizziness becomes constant, I can’t stay vertical long enough to make a meal, clean or even go for a walk.

It’s embarrassing because I don’t know what’s wrong. Saying my fingers are too weak and the pain shooting from them up my arms into my elbows is too sharp for me to be able to do my dishes sounds like bullshit when the reason is anxiety. It’s just anxiety. I should be able to lift my crock pot into the sink. Even I judge myself and have trouble believing that something in my head is taking over my entire body. Maybe I’d feel different if I was diagnosed with arthritis. Maybe then I’d feel okay asking someone to take care of my dishes.

On good days—or at least on better days when moving isn’t too much to bare—I’ll power through the cleaning and the errands. Satisfied, I’ll go to bed in my clean sheets which aren’t filled with dishes from midnight snacks, books I plan on reading and countless notebooks.

But it’s only a few days before I inevitably crash again and my home becomes such a disaster I’m hesitant to have anyone but my closest, least judgemental friends over. Those are the friends who also suffer from anxiety or who truly understand and empathize. To them, anxiety is a valid excuse. I’m not lazy. I’m not a slob. I’m sick. And I’ve seen the looks of people who don’t understand. They tell me I’d feel better if only I’d clean my home and keep it that way, not really understanding what’s stopping me. Not getting that anxiety gets in the way.

But, even to me, that’s not a valid excuse. Working up to asking someone I love and care about to take time out of their own hectic life to vacuum my living room because I’m anxious feels disrespectful, like I’m taking advantage of having them in my life. When someone buys me groceries, I panic that they’ll start to think I’m ungrateful if I don’t do something equally as caring back.

Without that help, I’m sitting in a messy home, hating myself for not being able to deal with the basics of my life. With that help, I’m sitting in my clean home hating myself for being a burden on my friends.

There’s no winning.

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