The one gift I want most in the world is not a sack filled with money or having my dream house, or being famous. Nope. What I want is much, much simpler than that- I want to be anxiety-free. To be rid of the burden of having a mental illness because as much as I put up a fight, it still gets the best of me. Even though my anxiety will never leave me, I would take having a week of no anxiety over winning the lottery any day.
What would I my week entail?
My first day would be dedicated to my boyfriend and my best friends. During the day I would do the little things that I struggle to do every day. We would sit down in a restaurant for lunch instead of taking the food to go. We would walk around the mall for a few hours and get a pretzel from Auntie Annie's, and I wouldn't run out hyperventilating because I started having a panic attack. Then we would drive to the beach and watch the sunset and have a small picnic with some 7/11 snacks because the beach is my favorite place in the world and it would be pure bliss. After I would meet up with my friends for dinner and I would sit down for the meal again because my anxiety is not blocking me from enjoying my life. We would go for a long drive and maybe road-trip somewhere to spend the night and I wouldn't be scared of leaving my house for the night
The next day we would wake up and have brunch with mimosas and talk about everything and I would be able to drink because I know it will not interfere with my anxiety medication. We spend the day shopping and getting our nails done, maybe even change my hair color because why not. Then late in the afternoon, we head back home where I'm having a farewell party with all my friends, family friends, and family that I have in America. All the people I love are there and I spend the night in good company and eat even better food.
The third morning is an early one, filled with packing and checking, and rechecking checklists for our flight. My parents, my boyfriend, and I are off to go to Poland to see the rest of my family which I haven't seen in years. This time, I'm not scared of flying, I am not throwing up, I am not having a panic attack when there is turbulence, and most importantly, I am not trying to escape the plane when it's on the runway. I sit calmly in my window seat, munching on mini m&ms reading the latest issue of People magazine which I picked up at the gate kiosk, and condensation is running down my chilled Fiji water. The only problem I have is that my tray is open during take-off.
After seeing my family pick me up from the airport and dealing with unpacking and jet lag, I sleep in. When I wake up I forget what it's like to be greeted by feelings of panic. I enjoy breakfast with my parents and boyfriend, and like clockwork, my family picks me up to do some sightseeing. On the way to the city, we stop by the cemetery to see my grandpa and grandma; we fix their flowers and light some candles. We say our goodbyes and continue down the high way until we're in the center of Warsaw.
I show my boyfriend all the really touristy spots and get Nutella-topped waffles in the old square, and go to the top of the tallest building. I'm not afraid of heights and I look down trying to find my parents - of course, they're waving to us. After we get down, my family takes us to the best pierogi place and we eat until we want to explode. Even though we are full, we still walk around the new part of Warsaw looking for some gelato. On our way back home, my mom points to the house she grew up in and her old high school. Back at the apartment while my aunt and mom make supper and tea, I show my boyfriend photo albums of my family and pictures of me when I was younger. Everyone is laughing and new memories are being made.
I woke up to my aunt and uncle having breakfast in my room, today we were going to take a road trip to the countryside. I gather some things in a bag, eat a bowl of cereal, and grab some snacks for the road. My parents decided to stay back today and pack because tomorrow we were going to see my dad's family in southern Poland by Krackow. Less than two hours pass by, and we've reached the countryside and I haven't asked anyone to pull over because I was having an anxiety attack. It is nothing but farmland for miles. My boyfriend and I go to the garden to harvest some of the fruits and vegetables that have grown since the last time someone stopped by. My aunt and I begin preparing dinner and when everything is cooking, my boyfriend and I go outside to play badminton until the food is ready. I'm all smiles. After dinner is over, my family takes my boyfriend mushroom picking- he's never been. We return late at night, with mushrooms seemingly pouring out of the car.
Morning comes and we board the train to Krackow. It looks exactly like the Harry Potter train and we have our own cabin room. My dad's family picks us up from the train station and takes us home in the mountains. I forgot that my ears always pop and bleed at high altitudes so I'm stuck pretty much with cotton balls in my ears for the remainder of the day. My aunt has a whole feast prepared for us and I get to play with my cousin's kids. They grew up so fast and I missed so much of it because I haven't been back. After dinner and some heated politics, we drive to the mountains and we watch people go paragliding. Something within me clicks, I say I will be right back and that I'm just going to the bathroom. I check out the paragliding shop in the lodge and sign up to go paragliding with a professional. The next time everyone sees me is with all my gear on, ready to run down the side of the mountain, catch some air, and soar up. I am free.
It's my final morning, and I wish I could sleep in later but it's okay because I know I can nap on the train. My aunt slips me a Tupperware of leftover pierogi and some candy bars, winking, saying she knows I'll be hungry on the train. When we arrive back in Warsaw, all of my family is waiting at my grandma's house, waiting to see us off. We have so much leftover food that it's all packed up for our plane ride home. I make sure to hug and kiss everyone goodbye, and tears coat my eyes because I do not know when the next time I will be seeing them is.
It's not just anxiety. It's not just in my head. My body becomes physically sick when I do anything remotely anxiety-inducing. Pushing myself to overcome my anxiety causes my body to shut down and all the progress that I've made to be wiped out and I begin to regress. Do I hate it? Yes. Do I wish I didn't have it? Every day. But I do remember the days I didn't have it and I am hopeful that in spite of it, I will be able to live a life I enjoy even if it is an unconventional one. The one gift I want most in the world is not a sack filled with money or having my dream house, or being famous. Nope. What I want is much, much simpler than that- I want to be anxiety-free. To be rid of the burden of having a mental illness because as much as I put up a fight, it still gets the best of me. Even though my anxiety will never leave me, I would take having a week of no anxiety over winning the lottery any day.