The Truth About My Anxiety

The Truth About My Anxiety

Anxiety isn't easy to deal with, but you can get through it.
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Trigger Warning: descriptions of everyday anxiety and panic attacks.

I have always been a pretty anxious person. When I was younger, it would show itself through tapping feet, fiddling with pencils and obsessively stroking a single piece of hair. I was – and still am – overly emotional and would get stressed if I had trouble understanding something or had a lot on my plate.

About once a year I had what I would then call my “big breakdown.” Something really stressful would happen in my life – maybe I did badly on a test or had a big argument with a friend – and I would completely break down and cry for hours.

Around this time I had another one of my “big breakdowns” after my then-boyfriend broke up with me. It was very sudden to me and it was the first time I had gone through a breakup away from home. I expected to be upset about it but I did not expect for it to go as far as it did. I went into a deep depression. It became hard to get out of bed every day or pay attention in my classes. I broke down crying at least once a day to the point of shaking and hyperventilating. My friends were worried about me and my parents were concerned they would have to pull me out of school.

One day I was listening to music while I took a shower and the song “I Wanna Get Better” by the Bleachers came on and suddenly I was bawling. It wasn’t as if it was an emotional song, but the words “I wanna get better” made me realize that I did want to get better. What I was feeling wasn’t normal and I couldn’t continue to let myself live this way.

That was the beginning of taking ownership of what was going on in my life. I asked a friend to go with me to the counseling center where was asked me to fill out a form rating my feelings a scale of one to ten. After explaining my situation to the doctor, she finally put a name to these feelings: generalized anxiety disorder and a mild panic disorder. She explained to me that my “big breakdowns” were actually panic attacks and recommended that I start taking medication to help with my symptoms. I’ve been taking medication for more than a year now and it has made a huge difference.

Living with anxiety is not easy. Anxiety is being afraid of being the first person to be done with a test because you don’t want people to look at you when you go to turn it in. Anxiety is when you have to have things a certain way because it makes you feel more comfortable that way, and if anything gets messed up, you can’t focus until it’s fixed or you might go insane.

Anxiety is the constant worry that you’re being too loud, too quiet, too messy, too annoying, talking too much, talking too little, not working hard enough, working too hard, feeling like a failure, fearing that you’ve forgotten something.

Anxiety is filled with constant questioning: Do my friends really like me? Does anyone really like me? Are my parents proud of me? Am I ever going to make anything of myself? Will I be enough for someone? Is anyone ever going to love me? Am I going to be alone forever? And you experience this every day, it’s not an “every-now-and-then” kind of thing.

Sometimes all of the feelings and questions become too much, or maybe something didn’t go the way you planned, and then the world starts to feel like it’s crashing down around you and you feel a panic attack coming on. You feel like you’re drowning and you start to gasp for air, but it feels like someone is standing on your chest. And, if you’re like me, you might start to cry.

You feel uncomfortable in your own skin; you want to rip it all off. You curl up as tightly as you can so that you can protect yourself from everything outside of yourself until you start to tremble. And when it’s all over you are left physically and emotionally drained. You have to pick up all of the pieces of yourself and attempt to put them back together again.

Anxiety isn’t a cry for attention or simply being over-dramatic. It’s real, and it’s something that millions of people have to live with every day. Everyone deals with their anxiety in their own way.

What I find helps me deal with everyday anxiety is to write things down in a journal. Whenever I feel particularly anxious or nervous, I write down four things: the situation, my thoughts about it, something positive that happened that day, and then I rate my anxiety on a scale of 1-10 at the top of the page. I feel that putting my feelings down on paper pulls it out of my head and puts it out into the world.

I’ve also learned how to calm myself down from a panic attack using a “grounding” technique where I list facts about my life. For example, I repeat to myself “my name is Morgan, I am 20-years-old, I’m from Alabama…” and so on. It’s not a perfect remedy but it is working for me, for now.

Anxiety can be a scary thing, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t manageable -- and it certainly doesn’t have to control your life (or mine). If you are feeling anxious, reach out for help and then accept it. Take it one day at a time. Talk about it. Share your struggles and your triumphs with others. And, hopefully, all this talking and sharing will lead each of us to be a little less anxious and a little more educated on the topic.

Cover Image Credit: http://allisonseto.tumblr.com/post/99936753499

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black and white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble; and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time, until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling; whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die," or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you, you are not alone.

If you're thinking about hurting yourself please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help it out there and you are not alone.


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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6 Ways People With Major Depressive Disorder Live Life Differently

The trauma I experienced in my early teens has prevented me from having close relationships with new people. I want to be friendly and outgoing but sometimes it seems damn near impossible.

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Being told at the tender age of 14 that you have major depressive disorder is not how you want to start your freshman year of high school. I've missed some of which was supposed to be the best years of my life. I have written and probably deleted this article at least seven different times due to the fear of judgment. There are no words I can put into this article on how to describe the daily struggle myself, and a majority of people struggle with major depressive disorder have to deal with. How do you explain to strangers, the reason I'm being standoffish is that I automatically think you're judging me. "What could possibly be wrong in your life?" is a common phrase I'm tired of hearing. People who haven't struggled will never understand.

It's time to educate the "normal" people on this topic and why it doesn't define us as people.

1. Wanting to be social, but you just can't

The trauma I experienced in my early teens has prevented me from having close relationships with new people. I want to be friendly and outgoing but sometimes it seems damn near impossible. I'm not intentionally trying to be a bitch, but that's just how it comes across when I am feeling shy. If you feel as is if I'm being standoffish, don't assume, just ask and I'll explain.

2. Freaking out over situations that haven't happened yet

In my friend group, I am notorious for this. If someone close to you is experiencing this, instead of telling them to relax, explain to them it's all in their head and hasn't even happened yet.

3. Missing out on sleep

I normally only get around three and a half hours of sleep at the most during the night, which is why I'm always so tired during the day and sometimes a little grouchy. So when you tell me I look rough, I'm well aware. When you tell me I'm moody, I'm most likely groggy and just not caring about the day anymore at that point.

4. Having a bigger heart then most

Being in this state of mind, I will always be sympathetic with others feelings. I am normally a friend who can relate to just about any situation. I will never judge anyone when they confide in me.

5. Not always being in that state of mind

This is the biggest missed conception of being depressed. I have my moments, days, or even weeks but this doesn't mean my whole life is a depressive episode. I do have really great days.

6. Feeling harder for other people's emotions

I've only been in two relationships in the last four years, which made me feel very good and then very bad. Even in friendships, I tend to be more charismatic. I never want someone to feel underloved. When someone else is feeling an emotion, I will feel it with them. This can be a great thing in friendships, or it can affect me negatively depending on the emotion being felt.

* * *

These are all just qualities that come with this disorder, but not one single one of them define me as a person. Next time someone close to you has one of these symptoms, stop making them feel like it's their fault. Try to understand them better. Always check up on your friends and family.

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