The first time I thought I had anxiety was when I was in college when everyone around me was anxious; the stress of living away from home, overdue assignments, complications in romantic relationships, unexplained weight gain, and feeling inadequate about everything.
At least, my college years were simpler because social media had not taken over. My friends and I were not documenting everything we did, we enjoyed things as they happened. It was the time before our parent’s generation took over Facebook when we posted things on Facebook that we never shared with our uncles and aunts.
I remember feeling sad when I first gained significant weight (44 lbs to be exact) and I knew that if I lost that weight, everything would be okay again. I was growing and confused, I knew better but I ate my feelings. I did not have the best coping skills, and every time someone offered me constructive criticism, I lashed out.
Since an early age, I was always scared of the future and the unknown. I was worried about what would happen next. I could never explain why I felt like that but it started with when my dad was out late and I feared if something happened to him. Then he would be home and I remember thinking- well that was a pointless worry. I always panicked before an exam, and once it was done, I felt fine. I thought it was normal. But was it?
I even took psychology in college to understand myself, to make sense of all my fears, thoughts and feelings. I understood there were so many people like me, but I did not know how to end these endless thoughts in my mind that kept me up for hours at night. I hated the word ruminating.
Whenever I was flying anywhere I wondered if my plane would safely land, every time I was on a road trip I wondered if I would run into a serial killer on the highway. I was always so cautious and paranoid, but my life motto was ‘safety first’. I made lists of everything, and double and triple checked everything all the time. OCD central is what some people called me.
My fear of uncertainty and the unknown started to manifest in other areas of my life. I was scared of committing to anyone because what if it did not work out or what if he left me; more importantly what if I was with the wrong person? I wanted to fall in love but I was too scared that someone would break my heart so I never fell too hard. I left everyone before they had a chance to leave me. I was scared of abandonment. My exes thought I was selfish.
I questioned every job I ever had. I worked hard and I did well, most of the time but I always thought what if this is not I am meant to be doing? I could not find satisfaction in anything, I always felt like something was missing. I declined most interviews because I didn’t feel it was the right job for me or canceled them last minute with some excuse. I was scared of failure.
My habit to double check everything, have a schedule for everything in my life made me feel like I was in more control of my life but everyone thought I needed to be more spontaneous. I am a planner; I don’t want to just do things because what if I am not prepared or safe, right?
I have anxiety and I hate it. People think I am melodramatic when I struggle with making it through the day without freaking out. I keep it together really well in public but when I am alone by myself, I am always so scared of all the bad things that might happen.
Every morning when I wake up, I hate to get out of bed- I am scared to face the day but I do it. I make a list of things to accomplish every day and the only thing that makes me happy is crossing those things out from the list. I bike almost every day praying that someday this anxiety leaves me and I am able to relax. Biking away from my anxiety as I like to call it but it always catches up.
When I am around people, I crack jokes and tell them funny stories because I like to make people laugh and forget about what is going on in my mind, but inside I am dying- knowing how all the fears that I have are completely irrational but for some reason I just cannot get over them.
When I was younger I thought gaining weight was the reason for all of my anxiety and I assumed if I lose that weight I would be okay again but even at my goal weight, I am not in my goal state of mind. I struggle with anxiety every day and people think I am an attention seeker, but I am scared of the unknown.
Sometimes it is so hard. I cry alone for no reason and in a few minutes I feel fine- and I feel silly for crying. I will tell you that when I get those anxiety attacks, nothing makes sense- I see no logic or rationality in the world- I feel completely consumed by the feeling that seems to never end. I tell myself this too shall pass and it does, but it comes back.
It is difficult to explain this to family and friends without them feeling sorry for me or thinking there is something wrong. Having to explain this to them is exhausting. It is draining on my soul. It is a grueling task to have to deal with it every day and have to explain to your loved ones without feeling like a crazy person.
I am not a drama queen, I have anxiety and sometimes it is a challenge to make it through the day. The love I get from people is the only thing that helps me through these countless bumps of anxiety- knowing that no matter what, they will have my back. The only thing that keeps me going is knowing that there are people that love me even if they will never understand how I am feeling. (And I am okay with that).