No one has described fully the horror of this illness called anxiety. Worse than any physical illness, this illness of the soul, for it is insidious, elusive, and arouses no pity. You have just been caressed. You are walking into a summer day. No great catastrophe threatens you.
You are not tragically struck down by a fatal disease, the death of a loved one at war. There is no visible enemy, no real tragedy, no hospital, no cemetery, no mortuary, no criminal court, no crime, no horror. There is nothing.
You are crossing a street. The automobile does not strike you down. It is not you whose brother went to war and was killed. In all the registers of catastrophe your name does not appear. You were not attacked, raped, mutilated. You were not kidnapped. You were not on the clipper which sank into the sea with twenty passengers. You were not in a concentration camp, not on the refugee ship which was not permitted to land anywhere. You were not jailed in Spain, your family was not put to death by Franco. None of that.
But as you cross the street the wind lifts the dirt and before it touches your face you feel as if all these horrors had happened to you, you feel the nameless anxiety, the shrinking of the heart, the asphyxiation, the suffocation of pain, the horror of the soul being stabbed. Invisible drama. Every other illness is understood, shared with other human beings. Not this one. It is mysterious and solitary, it is as ineffectual and unmoving to others as the attempted crying out of a mute person.
Everyone understands hunger, physical pain, illness, poverty, slaver. But no one understands that this moment at which I crossed the street is more annihilating than a concrete catastrophe. Anxiety is a woman screaming without a voice, out of a nightmare."