Have you ever felt so sick to your stomach that functioning becomes more of a chore than an unconscious action? Has a situation ever sent you shaking, mystified by the time where you will eventually feel okay? This is anxiety. This is panic. This my everyday life.
Growing up as a child, I knew I was very different. I always felt like I could explode, and occasionally, I did. Feelings unknown to myself would develop inside me, feelings of anger, unrest, and fret. The little things could get me going, setting off a tick in my head that would be settled with shouting and cries for attention. I would act out, desperately trying to be heard, reaching out for someone to understand, grasping for a family that was distracted with things otherwise.
When I was little, I spent a lot of time alone, but occasionally with my brother after dragging him tooth and nail to basement. My brother and I are total opposites, I am outgoing and free spirited. I love rebellion and breathing space. I loved books and being outside. I loved to discover and explore. I was the one that fought my parents harder than anything, I was my own person, and everyone needed to see that. My brother on the other hand, was an introvert with a learning disability, this made things incredibly hard, and I don’t mean to take away from any of his struggles. Growing up with a sibling that consumed the attention that I believed I was entitled to created a sense of disregard and isolation for me. I would feel the pressures of a family that pushed me to do better, while only congratulating my brother on success. This is not meant’ to sound selfish, but what is a child supposed to think when they don’t really understand what is going on. Five-year-old me only saw what I saw, which was more love and attention to a brother who wasn’t even the baby. This to me was a problem that I could really never grasp. I could possibly sound ignorant, and to many I probably could. But, this is a key source to my anxiety. In a world that pushed me to the brink, to only drop the subject once I was there, and with no pat on the back nor celebratory phone call to Grandma. I felt alone, and tossed away. I didn’t feel worth any attention.
Another occasion of my childhood that created a huge source of social anxiety for me was something that happened when I was in grade one. These were the years of fun, learning, and growing up. I started wearing glasses, and l love running. I loved my friends, and had lots. But, not everyone is nice, and I learned that earlier than anything. I don’t feel like telling the whole story, as it was quite the predicament for myself. But, it can simplified, despite its depth and importance. When I was five years old, two boys moved down the street. One of them was two years older than me, and the other was in grade seven at least. These boys were nice, I thought. We played with in our backyards, and we would go to their house for snacks. It was typical suburban friendship. It was really quite quaint, till the day they started to touch me. This was something I was really not able to grasp entirely till a couple years ago, but that is beside the point. This touching and using of me, and to only have it turned around by their mother, was probably the most hard hitting ordeal in my life. It created a sense to me that I couldn’t fully trust people, and they were usually out to no good. People were toxic for a very long time, and I was really quite outspoken with this opinion. I was no longer interested in having lots of friends, since who knows what they were capable of? They might be out to get me. So I built walls that were sure to block them out.
My anxiety springs from more than just these, but the roots were definitely set in place in my developmental years. If anything, these were some of the assisting moments.
Grade school was not a friendly environment for me. I was constantly crying, or yelling. I was to be heard, and I was to be accepted. Defiance could be my middle name. This was anxiety, and I didn’t even know it. I would have outbursts, sit alone, and take pride in not being liked. I was constantly feeling as though all eyes were on me, and those eyes were peeling me layer by layer, finding the inconsistencies I had, and laughing at them individually. This was grade school, I saw myself as an outcast, and with every try to be something more, I was denied harder and harder each time. These years were very formative to my life, and now thinking about it, have only bettered me as a person. I have come to realized that without my anxiety, I would be a different person, these years made me the person I was to become, with anxiety. But, solely being me.
Only in the past couple years have I come to terms with my anxiety and ordeals as a child. I realize what happened with the boys next door, has greatly affected my relationships, and how I go about them. I never fully trust people, but once I do, that is a gift. It takes quite some time, and talking through to really get me to open up vastly. I also have a hard time with success and knowing that I am being recognized. It takes a thousand occasions of reassurance and ‘yes, this is good’ statements to make me believe I am actually doing okay, to good, just okay. This is only a smidgen of my anxiety, but these are the most important in my life, and I am sure are very relevant to others.
Coming to terms with my anxiety was the best thing that ever happened to me, and I haven’t looked back since. Looking back on every occasion and outburst was the most self resonating thing I could do. It really helped me put together the pieces. Saying out loud what was wrong, and pronouncing my feelings to people around me has sure helped a lot. Taking time to totally understand my childhood has created a sense of consciousness for myself. I know who I am, and I finally don’t hate it entirely. I am pleased, but I know I can improve. With that, I have also taken time to come to terms with my brother. Looking back on it now, I know he was struggling, and I wasn’t really thinking of him. That just wasn’t me at five years old. I wasn’t understanding, I was just a child in body and mind.
It was my 17th birthday, when I went on pills for an anxiety. That was one of the hardest, but most important days of my life. I was taking a step for myself, and I knew a fall could happen, but I was ready to get back up.
Taking time to think about yourself and digesting all your conflicting issues is one of the most important thing you can do, in my pure, and very egocentric opinion. Having a day in bed isn’t a bad thing. I do it all the time. My anxiety is still very strong, and I have panic attacks on a weekly bases, but no longer daily. I have a great group of friends who love and accept me, and pressure me to better, and when I do, they provide me with great reward. I have started feeling more comfortable with myself, exploring styles and going out of my comfort zone. I have started using ‘I love you’ more, as now I know people love me. I am capable of seeing it and actually believing it. I am finally in a better place after 17 years of struggle, and steps back.
I have learned to love myself. It is possible, and I think everyone deserves to know that. Anxiety isn’t a flaw that ruins you, but only makes you who you are. Mental illness is formative, and you can use it empower other people, and yourself.
Learn to love yourself, and your illness. You are worth it.