Just this Monday, I moved out of my parent’s house to a cute two bedroom apartment in D.C. (Note: I literally live only fifteen minutes from them lol). So, it’s not like I moved to an entirely different city, or like I decided to quit everything and travel to India. I just moved fifteen minutes away and yet, I’m kind of freaking out.
I’ve never been great at dealing with change, even if it’s good change. Like this time last year when I got hired here at Thought Catalog. My anxiety skyrocketed to an alarming rate, and I felt like I was going to lose my mind. And now, something good is happening again and I feel like my mind is saying — Hah, Lauren, you can’t have everything, you know.
I don’t understand it. I love being in my own space. I adore my all-white room and the way I can make my pillows look Pinterest perfect. I love that instead of buying clothes now, I can buy cute fake plants on Amazon. I love that I can eat Ramen and drink however many glasses of wine I want without my parent’s giving me their disapproving looks. And I know I’m lucky. I’m so lucky.
But lately, my anxiety has been creeping up on me, in a nagging ‘little sister’ kind of way. It pops up when I don’t expect it. And I never fucking expect it.
It happened Sunday night when I was wall hopping and enjoying a frozen cocktail with my good friends. All of a sudden it felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. I tried to pretend I was breathing through a straw like what my therapist had told me to do when I felt it coming around, but then a flood of emotion spread over my body. I felt an enormous lump in my throat because here it was again. Anxiety. Again. Still.
I knew I wasn’t in any danger. I knew I was safe and I wasn’t literally dying, so I kept quiet. I walked around a little bit to distract myself. I coughed a lot to try to breathe better and blamed it on the spicy food. I pretended I was fine.
And eventually, it went away. Maybe it was the drinks or the love I felt from being with my friends. But it went away after thirty minutes or so. That feeling of doom. That feeling of a lump.
And then it happened again today, as I was sitting down to do some tasks I do every single day for work. I walked to a local coffeeshop to get out of the apartment, and I felt it again. The air being knocked out of my stomach. My throat closing. And the lump that made me want to bawl.
I know my anxiety will never go away. It will always keep coming back and picking up where it left off like a toxic relationship you can’t say no to. I know it will always be a part of me, because this is just how my brain is wired and how I am.
I just don’t want it to control me. I don’t want it to get to a point again where I let it tell me what I can and cannot do. I don’t want it to get to that point again where it’s more powerful than my will to be happy.
Maybe it’s just something I have to accept. That with change and growing up, comes stress and worry and panic. Maybe I just have to gulp up as much air as I can now, to conserve for the times when I have none. Maybe it will always be like this. But if it is, I need to find a way to let it go. To let it not distract me from my life and the people I love.
I need for anxiety not to control my entire life. I need for myself to be stronger.