I had anxiety before it became a fad. I had anxiety before everyone who seeks attention suddenly had it. Before everyone else who needed an excuse blamed it on their anxiety. I had it, well still have it, and deal with it every damn day.
In third grade it started to present itself as a disobedient child who would throw tantrums over the smallest things. There is actually a video engraved in my brain of my mother walking down the hallway with my baby sister in her arms, and I am wrapped around her legs screaming and crying about god only knows what. She was probably getting ready to leave and take my sister to a doctor appointment or something but I was obviously unhappy. But to the trained eye who can see the signs, it was a panic attack. And as a child with a wild imagination, not knowing what was going on mentally with me was terrifying.
The therapy was torture, but necessary. My mom took me to California for a month and half to get my life back. My therapist decided the best course of action was exposure therapy. To be technical I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). How that worked was I would get anxious feelings or anxious thoughts and I would have a compulsion that I would do to counteract those thoughts and feelings. Mainly I would feel my pulse. Something about feeling my heartbeat and reminding myself that I am still alive really calms me down and brings my head out of the clouds. Yes I still do this from time to time but I have better control over it. If it was at night I either would refuse to sleep and would stay up all night doing jumping jacks, or go and sleep at the foot of my parents bed.
Therapy rules said I was no longer allowed to do those things. Sounds easy but it was almost impossible. Without being able to counteract my anxiety, it would sit there in my mind a fester like a parasite. It would grow from a thought to a feeling. Then I wouldn’t be able to breathe. I would sit there panicking, suffering, convinced I was dying and I was unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Eventually, there was that moment of clarity. That moment of self realization and knowing that I would be ok. And to be a child in the third grade that was really empowering. I will remember that moment for the rest of my life.
But to those who say they have anxiety for the fun of it, or for an excuse, or whatever your reason, you need to stop. You don’t have the slightest idea what it is really like to live everyday with that tingle in your chest and your brain never stops and all the constant thoughts and feelings that make you question everything you say or do. You have no idea of the living hell we are in. And you have no idea how strong we are to make it through the day. You have no idea about the amount of courage it takes for us to do the little things that you breeze through without a second thought. And you have no idea how insulting it is for someone who has been through all this to watch you discredit our honesty just because you need an excuse to not do something.