This is Nodyia's Story
I’m Nodyia, and since elementary school, I have struggled with anxiety, and I continue to struggle today, but I have learned how to cope with it and not let it take over my life. I’m going to tell you a bit of my anxiety story!
I never realized I had anxiety until the summer before grade 7. My family and I were shopping at Costco, and it was very crowded. Halfway through the trip, I felt my palms start to become sweaty, my heart beat was increasing, and I was running out of breath. I managed to keep it together while in the store, but I broke down as soon as we got back to the truck. I had never felt this feeling in my life before, and I didn’t know what was happening to me. Luckily, my older sister had also experienced anxiety and was able to talk me through what was happening and calm me down. We did breathing exercises that I still do today when I feel overwhelmed and sense a panic attack. This was one of many panic attacks, and it feels like every time I have another one, it is worse than the last. Thankfully they don’t happen too often, and for the past few years, I have learned to cope with my anxiety and stop it head-on before I reach the point of the ‘panic attack zone’.
My worst panic attack happened in high school. I was in grade 10 drama and I had never been good at public speaking, but when it came to performing I was okay because the performances usually took place in the gym. However, this time it was in our classroom, which was quite a tiny room. Since it was so packed, and I could see people’s faces, it made me more anxious. I was part of the second set, and I was halfway through my monologue and made eye contact with someone, and then the overwhelming feeling of everyone’s eyes boring into my skin and watching my every move caught up to me, and my mind went blank. I had forgotten all my lines and stood there for what felt like an eternity looking like a deer caught in the headlights. I finally built up the courage to finish my monologue to the best of my ability. As soon as I stepped foot off the stage, the anxiety washed over me, and I instantly started crying and couldn’t breathe. I unfortunately had to go back on the stage and perform two more times that night. So, I would have a panic attack, stop and perform, get off the stage, continue my panic attack, perform one last time and then continue to have my panic attack. I would do my breathing exercises between the breaks from my sets, but nothing seemed to work this night. On the bright side, even though I had a horrible panic attack, I didn’t let it stop me from finishing the rest of my performances.
Even though I struggle with severe anxiety, I don’t let it control my life. Some days are more complicated than others, but I think I am doing an excellent job managing it. Years later, this past summer, I built up the courage to go to Costco again after my first panic attack. I am proud to say that I successfully went without having a panic attack.
When I feel myself starting to become anxious, I use my anxiety rings, and they have helped me quite a bit. I have one that spins and one that I can just move up and down my finger. When I move the one up and down my finger, I am practicing mindfulness as I find myself focusing more on the ring, instead of whatever it was that was making me anxious. I make sure to do my breathing exercises and try new ones to see which one helps me the most. Another tool I use is writing down what is overwhelming and stressing me out - I instantly start to feel calmer and feel a weight lifted off my shoulders.
My friends, family and boyfriend are also big supporters, and I know I can always turn to them when my anxiety gets overwhelming. My boyfriend always knows the right things to say to help me calm down, and he reminds me that I need to take breaks, get fresh air to recharge my brain, breathe and that “it’s nothing I can’t handle.” My friends also struggle with anxiety, so talking to them makes me feel like I’m not alone, as they can relate to what I am going through.
My main tip for someone struggling with anxiety is that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. If you feel very overwhelmed and think it won’t get better, I am proof that it does. Just take it one day at a time, and eventually, you’ll get there. I’ve conquered many things that anxiety initially stopped me from doing – and I will continue to take charge of the world and conquer my anxiety.