This week, after sharing my blogs about having had panic disorder and my recent feelings on everything that’s happened and things I’ve lost (and gained) to cancer, I thought of that quote:
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”—Ian MacLaren
So many people reached out and told me about their experiences with anxiety disorders, cancers, chronic illnesses and hospital stays that I had no idea about. They were offering sympathy and support, and, while I wasn’t surprised I know so many strong, wise people, I was kind of surprised that I didn’t know what friends had been through.
Most of these people aren’t casual acquaintances, either—we’re talking about people I’ve known most of my life or people I’d see every day at work. Since I’m so open about my dealings with panic disorder, I thought I’d known about other people’s struggles, but whenever I mention anxiety, so many others come forward and talk about their experiences. That’s why I think it’s so important to talk about panic and anxiety disorders—everyone feels alone, but it’s really shockingly common and not something that people should feel ashamed to talk about.
It’s strange that now that I’m finally recovering, it’s the time I finally look like a cancer patient—thin and balder than ever. For most of the time I’ve been going through this cancer journey, I’ve looked like my old self, or a lady with extremely short hair. Now I look like I’ve fought a hard battle—and hopefully, I’m going to start looking like I won.
Sometimes, when I looked OK and felt terrible and scared, I just wanted to lash out or beg strangers to be nice to me. If I had no idea that friends have been through their own battles, silently, then it goes to show you often have no idea what people are dealing with on their own.
After this, I’m going to try to remember that everyone is fighting a hard battle and to be kind. (Not too kind, though—I do live in New York and I don’t want people to think I’m getting soft.)