To My Anxiety, You Will Be Left Behind in 2017

To My Anxiety, You Will Be Left Behind in 2017

From the girl who finally found her voice.

I'm what you could classify as "high functioning" with my mental illness. I've had it for years. My doctors have warned my parents and me dozens of times that they suspected that something wasn't quite right.

However, I've always managed to handle the pressures with a relatively calm exterior.

I thought that meltdowns every few weeks alone in my room were normal. I kept myself busy with all of the nervous energy. One second I'd be handling it fine and the next my palms were sweaty and I couldn't breathe because I was suddenly overwhelmed with the idea that I wasn't good enough and that no matter how hard I tried, I'd never reach my goals.

I hid behind smiles and buried myself in my work and schooling. I never thought for a second that anything was wrong, however.

I never let myself show others that I had problems because there wasn't a reason to. I was still smiling, I still had a 4.0 GPA and had a bright future in front of me, and that's what mattered, right?

Wrong.

I've always had problems with trusting people. I've had one best friend my entire life and other than her, I never really trusted myself to love anyone until I had my first serious relationship in my junior year of high school.

Slowly, but surely, letting down my walls to someone caused something in me to release, causing my emotions to be a wreck. It started becoming harder and harder to control my emotions and handle the everyday pressures of life.

Since the start of my senior year getting into my car and crying at the end of the school day became a regular practice.

Why was I crying?

I honestly couldn't tell you.

I withdrew from my friendships, my relationships and my family. I pushed others away to avoid the fear of them treating me differently and seeing me as nothing more than my mental problems.

Instead of admitting to myself that something was wrong and seeking help, I let myself suffer in silence, hoping that someone or something would magically pull me out of the hole I dug myself.

They saw, but when they asked I denied it. When I did finally admit it, I refused to seek help. I didn't want a label on it, and I didn't want to accept the fact that I needed anyone other than myself.

I went from having a panic attack every few weeks to having them multiple times a week by the end of our relationship.

When my boyfriend and I broke up because I couldn't be around him without retreating into myself and becoming silent, I needed change. It took me breaking down in the middle of school and walking through the hallways crying to ask my mom for help, finally, and I'm so glad I did.

My doctor tells me I’m “high functioning.”

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of success and reaching my goals. Teachers would tell my parents that I had a bright future and would do big things with my life.

It all started at the age of four when I walked into my living room and declared that I would teach myself to read and tie my shoes before I went into kindergarten. Sure enough, I was the only four-year-old in my preschool class that could read chapter books by the time I graduated.

Throughout my school career, I received straight A’s and had a 4.0 average. I got invited to dozens of conferences, study abroad programs and summer programs at colleges and universities. Still today, people tell me I’m “wise beyond my years.”

I was always able to produce high-quality work in a minimal amount of time and make even the hardest of tasks look effortless. From an outsider’s perspective, I had brains and was destined for success.

What they didn’t see was that I was constantly worrying about the expectations set for me from such a young age and that I was slowly cracking under pressure.

Cut to my junior year of high school.

In the first month of the year, I got a concussion at cheerleading practice in an unfortunate bear-crawling incident that rendered me unable to read paragraphs and write more than a sentence without getting a splitting headache and losing my vision for over a month.

I fell behind in my schoolwork, and my straight A’s turned into B’s, and in my mind, my future was over. I cried for around two hours after I received my very first “C” on a test.

Many of my friends were envious of me, and my biggest fear was being labeled average.

By the end of my junior year, I received the lowest letter grade I have ever gotten in a class (B) and the lowest weighted GPA out of my entire high school career (a 94.5, which is considered a 4.0). Eventually, my efforts burned out, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t perform how I had wanted to.

I distracted myself all summer. I hung out with my boyfriend, planned trips with my friends and ended up working two jobs by the end of the summer. I needed things to keep my mind off of the fact that come September, I would have to face the reality of underperforming for the entirety of my junior year.

Whenever I was alone and had to sit with that fact, I would end up crying and unable to breathe. Whether it was in my car on the way to or from work or one of the rare times my friends and boyfriend were unable to talk to me because of other commitments, I was a mess.

By the time my senior year rolled around in September 2017, I was no stranger to mental breakdowns multiple times a week. For the entire month of October, I drove out of the school parking lot crying every single day.

Despite regaining my straight A’s, I was worried that I wouldn’t get into any of the schools I wanted to. I became extremely depressed, and when I would realize that there were deadlines I had to meet and responsibilities to fulfill, I would kick into overdrive, put on a happy face and walk around like nothing was wrong despite the fact that I couldn’t breathe and felt the urge to cry wherever I went.

I didn’t tell anybody how I felt.

I isolated myself in every relationship I had, which turned out to be detrimental. I felt alone in my school of 2,000 students. I cried during school more in the first three months of my senior year than I did during the entirety of my elementary school career. I was a hot mess as the kids would say.

My biggest mistake was letting my trust issues take over. I didn’t tell anyone how much I was struggling; I didn’t want them to view me differently. The few people that did know never knew the extent to which I was hurting because I never let them see.

I would walk around in silence until I had to put on a show for the other people around me. People would make assumptions, and I let these assumptions control who I was and how I viewed myself. I didn’t want any labels on how I felt, and I certainly didn’t want help from anyone else.

I’m independent, and I like to do things on my own.

It took me breaking down in the middle of the hallway and walking to my journalism class crying in my friend’s arms. I texted my mom.

I needed help from someone other than me. My anxiety was controlling my life.

In 2017, I fell in and out of love. I was somehow both the happiest and saddest that I've ever been, and I learned a lot about myself and my relationships. I lost people I never thought I would and met people that I can't imagine life without right now.

In 2018, I'll officially become an adult, and I'll be moving to college three hours away from where I've grown up my entire life. I have no option but to move on.

I refuse to let my anxiety control my life ever again.

From the outside, I looked like I had everything together. I had great grades, was involved in school and I had great friends and a great boyfriend. When I lost it all because I let my mind control my life, I didn’t know how to react. I ignored it until it refused to shove to the side.

I’m still working on things. However, I’m happier. I’m more at peace with myself, and I refuse to let something define me that wants nothing more than to ruin my life.

In 2018, I’m accepting the fact that sometimes, you need other people. I’m embracing the fact that I’m more than my mental illness, and I’m working towards making my tomorrows better than my yesterdays. In 2018, I’m leaving my anxiety behind in 2017.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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The Random Roommate That Was Fate

From strangers to best friends, sisters and lifelong partners.

One of the things that I was most excited about for college was meeting new friends. Coming from a small town where everybody knew each other, I was just ready to meet a whole new group of people. So when it came down to figuring out where I was going to live, I decided to just go random with my roommate. While of course I was nervous at first since so many people have had horror stories with random roommates, I knew that most likely, I was going to be fine.

When I got my room assignment, I found that I was rooming with 3 other girls. When I found out my immediate roommate, I began to, as one does, look at all her social media. Quickly I realized that we were complete opposites. I’m a Disney-loving theatre kid, and she’s an athletic soccer player. Seeing all of our differences definitely got me nervous, but I was still excited to get to know the girl that I would be sharing a room with for a whole year.

When it came around to move in day, we met for the first time in the lobby of our dorm. I made eye contact, called her name and said “Hey! I’m your roommate!” and gave her a big hug. She probably thought I was crazy in that moment.

My roommate became the person that knew everything about me and I could tell her anything without shame. She laughed at my corny jokes and my terrible dance moves, and she always knew how to make me feel better when days were hard. I try to do the same for her, and hopefully succeed.

When we went on breaks, we would text all the time (or as often as we could when we weren’t working) just to keep up with each other and tell funny stories we experienced. We even became snap famous for a day! She became my person, my best friend. Even through all our differences, we found that they brought us closer together to create a friendship unlike any other.

Not only did I get a roommate for another year, I got a friend for a lifetime. To my best friend, my pal, my random roommate. I am SO thankful for you.

Cover Image Credit: Stacy DiCandilo

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I Am Embarrassed To Be A Millennial

In light of the Tide Pod challenge, I feel like I should be honest about my generation.

I wanted to write an article shaming the people from my generation who are eating Tide Pods, but that has been done. So, I wrote this instead.

People hate Millennials for a variety of reasons. We are “lazy, entitled brats”, or so the older generations say. I am a Millennial. I was born in 1993. I may be an older Millennial, but I am a Millennial none the less. And, if I am being honest, I am embarrassed to be a Millennial, and not because of what older generations say about my generation, but because of those who make the older generations think we are, in fact, “lazy, entitled brats”. I’m not like the other people in my generation, so, please, don’t assume that I am anything like my generation simply because I was born in the 90s.

I have never been like other people my age. I have always surrounded myself with adults, because I never clicked or connected with people my own age. I’m terrible with children – always have been, even when I was one. My generation does things differently. I am old fashioned. I want to go on real dates and talk on the phone – not text "f*ckboys" I meet on Tinder. I like having a landline in my home. I know what a landline is! I have the common sense to not eat a piece of plastic filled with laundry detergent. I believe in hard work, determination, getting to places on time – or even early. I know that things don’t come free – money, love, respect. If you want something, anything, you need to earn it. I struggled to get a job. I applied and applied, and I finally got a part time job, and I have been there five years. So many of my co-workers over the last five years have been let go, because they were young people who thought that they could come in late and not do their fair share of the work and still get paid. Sadly, this isn’t all of my generation. A lot of the people I know in my generation are like me, but the few that are afraid to talk on the phone and spend their free time eating Tide Pods and stalking Kylie Jenner are the ones in the limelight. They are the ones the media zones in on, and they are the ones that make me look bad, and while I hate that, maybe it is a good thing? Maybe it is good to know that I look bad at the expense of the bad Millennials. At least I know that I am not making the bad ones look good when they did nothing to deserve it.

There are a lot of really great things about Millennials. Studies show we are nicer and more accepting than older generations. We believe in equal rights between races and genders, and we are strongly for gay marriage. We are lovers and not haters. We practice safer sex more than other generations. On average, Millennials have less sexual partners than other generations (eight per lifetime as apposed to 10 for Gen X and 11 for Boomers), and start having sex at older ages than older generations. And, despite what people say, Millennials are not job-hoppers. People who are ages 22 to 29 today are less likely to leave their job than their older co-workers, and those who do leave are leaving for better paying jobs. So, while you Gen-Xers and Boomers sit there are complain about my generation, know two things: 1. Millennials are kicking more ass than you ever could imagine and 2. The morons of my generation are ruining it for people like me – a hard working millennial who is quite honestly embarrassed to call herself a Millennial despite all their good qualities. So, a heartfelt thank you to you Tide Pod eating morons that are giving my generation a bad name. You should feel so much shame.

Cover Image Credit: https://pixabay.com/en/friends-girls-cell-phone-selfie-409403/

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