I, like many other individuals, have suffered from anxiety for about as long as I can remember. As a child, my anxiety manifested into entirely irrational fears, vivid dreams, and messy "accidents." I was so scared my heart was going to stop in my sleep that I would run around the house in circles in the middle of the night to keep my heart beating. I used to have intense, realistic nightmares about violence and murder. I also wet my bed until I was 11 years old. During middle and high school, I began having unexplainable panic attacks but I had no idea what they were at the time. It wasn't until my sophomore year of high school when I took a psychology class that I realized what might be wrong with me.
Although I've never had a formal diagnosis, I'm fully aware that anxiety and panic attacks are what have plagued me my whole life and, because I've never had a formal diagnosis or sought treatment, I've struggled and dealt with it on my own, though I'm aware that's not the most intelligent choice. Instead of dealing with it professionally like a smart and healthy adult, I've pushed it to the back of my mind and have become accustomed to putting on a pretty face, laughing and joking, and pretending like I'm okay when I'm not.
Before I knew what my anxiety was, I passed it off as normal behavior and accepted my life, body, and mind for what they were even though I was scared. I thought it was normal to take two hours to fall asleep every night. I thought it was normal to wake up feeling like I'm going to die every day. I thought it was normal to be moody and irritable. I thought it was normal to suck on the ends of my sleeves and pick at my cuticles until I bleed. I thought it was normal for my chest to tighten when people stood too close to me. I thought it was normal for my heart to start racing and my breathing to become rapid out of the blue. All of that became MY normal and it sucked.
After discovering that I had anxiety, it became more manageable. It still sucked, but at least I finally had answers and I didn't have to be scared. I tried focusing more on self-care and started caring less about what people thought of me. For the next three years, my life followed pretty much the same routine which kept my anxiety at bay. Last August, however, my routine was majorly disrupted when I packed up my entire life and moved two-and-a-half hours away for college. I had never lived away from my home, friends, family, and cats. I'm not ashamed to admit that my mental health began taking over my life like it never had before. I slept in until 11 every day, I stopped wearing makeup pretty much altogether, I very rarely left my dorm, I was irritable, moody, and overwhelmed all the time, I lived in leggings and sweatshirts, and I felt so very alone.
What made matters even worse was the fact that my roommates were always out with there friends and always had things going on. As an extrovert, my lack of socialization drained me to no end. I felt like an awful, lazy, and shitty person for not going out or doing anything besides binge-watching shows on my laptop. My panic attacks and episodes of severe anxiety were also too easily triggered. During the spring semester, the power went out campus-wide and I had to sit on the floor in the dark in my bathroom, take deep breaths, and tell myself everything was going to be okay even though I felt like I was dying.
After moving back home for the summer, I thought my life would turn around. I was going to work, save up my money, buy a car, settle into my new apartment, and attempt to reclaim my social life. Those things still happened, but my anxiety started becoming more and more prevalent and ruined the things I thought would make me happy. Even though I know I should be happy, I'm not. I get little to no sleep, I'm irritable and moody all the time and for no reason, I snap too easily, I cry all the time, I overthink everything, I have lengthy episodes (sometimes days) of anxiety and moodiness, I let everything and everyone bother me, I never have an appetite, I let my emotions get the better of me, and I'm emotionally and mentally overwhelmed. The most excruciating part is I have no idea why.
Part of me feels like my years of denying my anxiety and not dealing with it head-on have come back to haunt me. Another part of me feels like the overwhelming amount of transitions I've been experiencing have intensified my anxiety. All I know is I'm tired of feeling crazy and feeling like less of a person and feeling like a bad person because of my mental health. However, I'm ready to be an adult and face the problem head-on. At the end of the day, the only person who can help me is myself.