To The People Who Thought I Was Staging My Anxiety, I Hope Karma Bites You

To The People Who Thought I Was Staging My Anxiety, I Hope Karma Bites You

Why would I pretend to be anxious all day every day? Do you think that someone really wants to live their life like this?

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It is very typical in society for people to pretend to have a mental illness or other disorder in a crude attempt to get attention. I know of girls who did this in middle and high school because it was "cool" to have depression or "cool" to have anxiety.

These girls would post about it on social media constantly about wanting to die, being too anxious to move, or too depressed to leave their house. I know that they were fake about how they felt because in 2013 girls would do anything to get followers on Instagram. Not only that, but I personally know these girls who did this. You see, it was so "cool" and so "in" to have a disorder like these because they sounded cool. Their names were so long and our seventh-grade minds found that fascinating.

Not thinking that people actually suffer from these diseases and disorders all over the world. I can't say that I faked having a disorder, but I can say that I have been mocked for having anxiety and depression.

I didn't learn about mental health until my junior year of high school. I remember feeling myself deteriorate at a quick rate. My thoughts were consumed with the ACT, AP exams, a breakup, college, friends, etc. I found myself so busy focusing on everything around me that I forgot to focus on me. I never even put much thought into focusing on me until the summer before my sophomore year of college. Until I had learned the mental health stigma, people suck, and anxiety is a real thing, I had spent all my time isolated in my mind. I didn't talk about my feelings for fear that I would be called crazy, attention-seeking, or a liar. Just like what people called the girls who would post on social media faking an illness.

I didn't know of anyone who had a literally been diagnosed with any mental illness and I certainly didn't want to be the first one to talk about it. So I bit my tongue and stayed silent. I stayed silent until I went crazy. In the spring of my freshman year of college, I had a breakdown. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. The way I felt, the way I shook, the way my mind STILL told me to not speak up about it made me feel like I had no use for the world. I felt as though I was suffering alone and nobody knew what was actually happening. Nobody knew until I broke down to the point of admitting myself to the psychiatric unit. Even when I got the treatment I knew I needed and was on my road to recovery, I still felt as though I couldn't talk about how I felt.

I couldn't talk about how I felt because my parents often mocked me if I told them that my anxiety was so high I couldn't breathe. I was mocked when I couldn't leave my bed for four days because my depression sat on my legs and paralyzed me. I was mocked when I finally decided to talk about what I was going through because "my life isn't that hard or stressful, so why do I feel the need to escape it by pretending to go crazy?" I was mocked when I finally came up with an explanation as to why I thought I was feeling as low as I was. I was mocked because pretty girls don't get sick.

Smart girls don't break down. Girls who have a strong support system don't struggle. I was mocked because the number of Instagram followers I have determines if I am allowed to be ill or not. I was mocked because nineteen-year-old girls don't get depressed. I was mocked before and after I came clean about my feelings and thoughts. This is why people don't speak up when they're struggling. This is what is wrong with society. We think that because someone looks a certain way or has a certain status in society that they couldn't possibly be sad. We think as a society that pretty girls can't cry. We think that people who talk about their dark times are faking it because who in their right mind can talk about the past like it's not a thing anymore?

What I don't understand is why we try to encourage people to talk about the hard times, the dark times, and the in-between times when all we're going to do is mock them right back. How dare I come forward about my struggles? Society has become this place where we can't speak our minds anymore. We can't say anything without fear of being judged or mocked, so listen to me when I tell you that you are allowed, you are entitled to talk about what you feel. And I won't judge you. I won't mock you. And I certainly won't tell you that what you're feeling is wrong.

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Yes, I Had A Stroke And I'm Only 20

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
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Recently, I read an article on Cosmo that was written by a woman that had a stroke at the ripe old age of 23. For those of you who don't know, that really doesn't happen. Young people don't have strokes. Some do, but it's so incredibly uncommon that it rarely crosses most people's minds. Her piece was really moving, and I related a lot -- because I had a stroke at 20.

It started as a simple headache. I didn't think much of it because I get headaches pretty often. At the time, I worked for my parents, and I texted my mom to tell her that I'd be late to work because of the pain. I had never experienced a headache like that, but I figured it still wasn't something to worry about. I went about my normal routine, and it steadily got worse. It got to the point that I literally threw up from the pain. My mom told me to take some Tylenol, but I couldn't get to our kitchen. I figured that since I was already in the bathroom, I would just take a shower and hope that the hot steam would relax my muscles, and get rid of my headache. So I turned the water on in the shower, and I waited for it to get hot.

At this point, I was sweating. I've never been that warm in my life. My head was still killing me. I was sitting on the floor of the bathroom, trying to at least cope with the pain. Finally, I decided that I needed to go to the hospital. I picked up my phone to call 911, but I couldn't see the screen. I couldn't read anything. I laid down on the floor and tried to swipe from the lock screen to the emergency call screen, but I couldn't even manage that. My fine motor skills were completely gone. My fingers wouldn't cooperate, even though I knew what buttons needed to be pressed. Instead of swiping to the emergency call screen, I threw my phone across the room. "Okay," I thought, "Large muscle groups are working. Small ones are not".

I tried getting up. That also wasn't happening. I was so unstable that I couldn't stay standing. I tried turning off the running water of the shower, but couldn't move the faucet. Eventually, I gave up on trying to move anywhere. "At what point do I just give up and lie on the floor until someone finds me?" That was the point. I ended up lying on the floor for two hours until my dad came home and found me.

During that two hours, I couldn't hear. My ears were roaring, not even ringing. I tried to yell, but I couldn't form a sentence. I was simply stuck, and couldn't do anything about it. I still had no idea what was going on.

When the ambulance finally got there, they put me on a stretcher and loaded me into the back. "Are you afraid of needles or anything?" asked one EMT. "Terrified," I responded, and she started an IV without hesitation. To this day, I don't know if that word actually came out of my mouth, but I'm so glad she started the IV. She started pumping pain medicine, but it didn't seem to be doing anything.

We got to the hospital, and the doctors there were going to treat me for a migraine and send me on my merry way. This was obviously not a migraine. When I could finally speak again, they kept asking if I was prone to migraines. "I've never had a migraine in my whole life," I would say. "Do you do any drugs?" they would ask. "No," I repeated over and over. At this point, I was fading in and out of consciousness, probably from the pain or the pain medicine.

At one point, I heard the doctors say that they couldn't handle whatever was wrong with me at our local hospital and that I would need to be flown somewhere. They decided on University of Maryland in Baltimore. My parents asked if I wanted them to wait with me or start driving, so I had them leave.

The helicopter arrived soon after, and I was loaded into it. 45 minutes later, I was in Baltimore. That was the last thing I remember. The next thing I remember was being in the hospital two weeks later. I had a drain in my head, a central port, and an IV. I honestly didn't know what had happened to me.

As it turns out, I was born with a blood vessel malformation called an AVM. Blood vessels and arteries are supposed to pass blood to one another smoothly, and mine simply weren't. I basically had a knot of blood vessels in my brain that had swelled and almost burst. There was fluid in my brain that wouldn't drain, which was why my head still hurt so bad. The doctors couldn't see through the blood and fluid to operate, so they were simply monitoring me at that point.

When they could finally see, they went in to embolize my aneurysm and try to kill the AVM. After a successful procedure, my headache was finally starting to subside. It had gone from a 10 on the pain scale (which I don't remember), to a 6 (which was when I had started to be conscious), and then down to a 2.

I went to rehab after I was discharged from the hospital, I went to rehab. There, I learned simple things like how to walk and balance, and we tested my fine motor skills to make sure that I could still play the flute. Rehab was both physically and emotionally difficult. I was constantly exhausted.

I still have a few lingering issues from the whole ordeal. I have a tremor in one hand, and I'm mostly deaf in one ear. I still get headaches sometimes, but that's just my brain getting used to regular blood flow. I sleep a lot and slur my words as I get tired. While I still have a few deficits, I'm lucky to even be alive.

Cover Image Credit: Neve McClymont

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The Basic Facts on Eating Disorders in the United States

What you need to know about the epidemic sweeping the country in adolescents

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Eating disorders are estimated to occur in 5-10 million women and one million males in the United States. Eating disorders are psychological problems that can be viewed as unusual eating habits. Eating disorders can be known as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. These disorders have affected men and women across the world for many years, but the topic has caused great controversy in today's society. As children become young adults, they come to realize the pressures of being thin, which can be stressed by pop culture. Pop culture is one of the major influences on men and women today. Being overweight is frowned upon and young adults can be bullied for being obese. These conditions can also be caused by family members or stress and can create many problems for them later in life. Eating disorders can be caused by stress, family pressure, and pop culture and can have long-lasting effects.

Family pressure on young adults can impact the choices one makes on a daily basis. Family members can impact the feelings of an individual by teasing, regarding the need to change weight which plays a role in the pathogenesis of eating disorders. Eating disorders can develop in children from family members who are over-involved in their life. When parents play too big of a role in a child's life, the child cannot grow to be independent and make their own choices. Some adolescents believe they have a certain expectation to meet to please parents, and fitting a specific body type is what that means to them. When the child does not meet this expectation, starvation occurs or the child may even result in throwing up their meal. Other factors that can contribute to these diseases are parental drug or alcohol abuse. Depression can result from these situations, which leads to the development of a disorder, and can eventually lead to suicide. Genes are another common cause of eating disorders. Individuals who have parents with eating disorders are more at risk for the diseases. Children can result in blaming their parents for their misfortune, and lead to ruined relationships with family.

Pop culture plays a role in where eating disorders are prominent and who they affect. When children see television stars on shows with slim figures, they begin to think they need to look the same. The images then cause the children to starve themselves in order to obtain the television stars figure. Some celebrities have also developed eating disorders while in the spotlight because the pressure from viewers is too much for them to handle. Supermodels today have continued to get thinner and thinner, which shows an unrealistic representation of what a man or woman should look like in today's society. Television commercials are also another problem that individuals have faced because the actors or actresses act as if losing weight will make them happy and free them from all their life problems. the dieting companies drive to make more money makes for a vicious cycle of thinking that lives will be better once one attains a certain weight.

Feelings of stress can turn people into adapting unusual eating habits, making it a constant battle between the two. When individuals feel stressed, they may turn to food to solve their problems. Binge eating is one of the main effects of stress. The feeling of control may result when binge eating to solve stress, which eventually leads to obesity. Anxiety is also a known effect from stress levels rising and can cause many problems to the brain such as low self-image and depression. Other factors such as child, alcohol, or drug abuse can also affect how stressed a person may be if there is a history of abuse in the family. Trauma is a common cause of eating disorders and mental problems can cause the body to result in these psychological disorders.

Family pressure, pop culture, and stress can all contribute to the onset of an eating disorder and young adults need to realize when a problem is beginning. The family is the center of an individual's life and whatever they say, a person takes into consideration. When attention is not received from parents or abuse is occurring, eating disorders can occur. Pop culture in society today is one of the largest influences on eating disorders. Models and celebrities in magazines and on television show an unrealistic representation of the ideal weight of men and women

today. Stress levels can accumulate when abuse or trauma occurs which can make individuals turn to food for comfort. The person feels in control of their life when food is consumed, and the weight adds on, which can result in obesity. Eating disorders are a global issue and young adults need to be educated about the warning signs before it is too late.

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