Everything was fine. Until it wasn’t. Everything was going swell. Until it wasn’t. Everything was peaceful. Until it wasn’t.
I was enjoying an evening with my family. We don’t get many opportunities to be together all at once, in the same location. But, tonight, we were able to. We were all in the living room, coloring, texting, watching TV. We were enjoying ourselves. It was good. It was needed.
Then, out of nowhere…I felt irritable. I felt angry. I knew if anyone just tried to talk to me, I would lose it. I wouldn’t mean to lose it, but I would. I felt it heat up, simmer, boil inside of me. I had to go outside. I had to be by myself. I didn’t want to hurt my family. Sitting outside, my eyes closed, my breathing hampered…I tried to figure out where this source of anger was coming from. I couldn’t figure it out. Which ended up making me even more angry and irritable.
Why was I feeling this way? I don’t know. I Googled it. I asked, “Why do I get randomly irritated?” In response, I see link upon link explaining how random bouts of irritability and angry are frequently connected with anxiety.
I knew for a while now that my anxiety has gotten worse. Panic attacks were becoming more frequent, nervous habits were becoming more common – as well as picking up new ones, such as picking at my skin. Lip biting. Impatience. I kept trying to keep this all at bay, I was trying to manage my anxiety.
That night, I couldn’t. I overheard my brother. He was hurt and annoyed that I didn’t do anything with him that night. My mom told him that she understands his frustration. So, when my mom asked me if something was wrong – that was it. That was the outlet I needed to lose it. Did I mean to? No. Did I? Yes. And what originated as anger, concluded with tears. I was helpless. I had no words for why I felt angry. There was no reason. I just was. To those who don’t have anxiety, these random feelings – the ones that have no reason – seem to be impossible. “There is always a reason,” they say, while the ones that suffer from anxiety beg to differ.
When the words stopped and tears came, it was like waves. No. It was like tsunami after tsunami. I was hysterical. I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t stop wailing. And I couldn’t stop asking for my cat. My mom and brother were worried. They couldn’t do anything. They couldn’t touch me, talk to me – they, too, were completely helpless. All they could do was watch and try to understand the pain that I was feeling while they were experiencing their own, unique type of suffering.
I cried for over an hour. I was shaking. I was trembling. When I walked, I gripped the hem of my shirt. My vision was blurry and my walking was stiff. I was directionless. I was lost. My mom told me she was going to take me to the hospital. To which I started screaming no. She told me she was going to call 911, that I wasn’t mentally safe. That I wasn’t mentally okay. She was trying to help me, and I couldn’t be more grateful. But all I wanted was my cat.
It was the surrealist of feelings. I didn’t want my dog – the one that I always go to. I wanted my cat. I begged for her to come home. I needed her soft, small body in my arms. When I pleaded with the universe for her to come back saying, “Gracie, come home,” I realized that I was talking to myself. I wanted to go home. Not my physical house, but I wanted to come back to reality. I wanted to grasp what was around me. I wanted to find sanctuary in my mind, even though in that moment, my mind was the enemy. I couldn’t escape, though I wanted to. I wanted to go home.
I don’t know what happened when I wiped my nose one last time, but I stopped crying. I went silent. My mind focused on showering, so that’s exactly what I did. There was no reason there. There was no process of thought. It was robotic. Somehow, I snapped out of what I was experiencing. I don’t know what caused it. I didn’t tell myself to stop, I just did.
Now, I’m writing this. Eyes dry, body numb, and mind dull. I’m unsure why I am writing this for the Odyssey, maybe in the hopes that someone will read this and realize that they are not alone. Or maybe in the hopes that someone will read this and start to understand how anxiety can have a complete and total hold on a person. A grip that is so suffocating and harmful, that people want to open their skull and take out their brain. It is unlike any physical pain. This is purely mental. I can point to a broken bone and say, “This is my source of pain. I understand this. It will heal. I can get through this.” But it is harder to point to my brain, where my pain is coming from, and tell myself, “You are hurting and it is because of you.” It is even harder to convince myself that I will get through it, because it is my own brain fighting me.
If you don’t have anxiety, it will be hard for you to completely understand. If you don’t have anxiety, but you are close to people that do…be patient. It’s a hard burden to bear. We are trying. We are all trying so very hard to reason with our minds. Our own minds. I decided to be vulnerable – not to be criticized, but to try to be understood. To try to comfort someone that feels as though they are alone. You are not. And though you may not feel it, you are strong. Remember that, even though it’s hard.