I don’t remember when this all started… I also don’t remember the last time I felt “normal”. Is that even a thing anymore? Normal? Society has made it a daily challenge to live your life. How unfair is that? When we are not feeling ourselves, we feel cut off from life. We doubt basic truths, like the body’s ability to heal because we haven’t connected with what’s behind our feelings of unease. As far as I can remember back in my life, I have always had anxiety. It’s like there have been pieces of me missing… like a house at night that’s meant to have all of its lights on, except some rooms are stuck in the dark.
I used to think I couldn’t talk to anyone about these feelings I was having because if I did, it was always the same answers “you’ll get over it”, “you’ll be fine”, “I hope you feel better”, “Well you look perfectly fine to me”. Are these answers supposed to help me? It was less emotionally damaging to tell people I was fine than to listen to someone insist that some extra sleep, or a nice vacation will solve my problems. I would get angry at the people who were trying to be a support system.
Highschool was the trigger for me. I lost 15 lbs., became very tense, experienced severe headaches, and prayed I was never invited out. I became angry and sad for no reason, with sudden bursts of energy followed by hours of exhaustion. My emotions seemed to be changing by the hour and I couldn’t control it. Anxiety can feel like you’re on a never-ending jog. Even when your legs can’t move another step and you have lost your breath, your body just keeps moving forward, sometimes not by choice. This did not get better for me in college- in fact my spiraling emotions seemed to be getting worse. Angrier, sadder, but why? I can finally answer that question 3 years later... I never said no. The importance of the word NO and knowing when to use it has been a serious life changer.
Social Media often resurfaces my anxiety and that’s a battle I struggle with daily. I love connecting with friends and family, however, there are 5 negative stories for every 1 I scroll through. Videos of shootings, discrimination, bullying and self-harm triggers a lot of individuals to down spiral into a depression. Social media in my opinion, is a big factor in triggering mental illness.
Over the years, I have been trying not to worry so much about pleasing others and focused more on creating a happier, healthier self. Going out to clubs, big social scenes, or even hanging out with friends makes me anxious, so I simply do not force myself into anything that doesn’t automatically make me feel content or at ease. Is this hard? Almost impossible sometimes, but your body and health are more important than pleasing a girlfriend/boyfriend who doesn’t want to go out alone or agreeing to work a double shift because someone wants you to cover for them.
My family and my boyfriend are the light at the end of my very dark tunnel. It’s so important to find that person, place or thing that grounds you, or at least, gives you a feeling of being at peace.
Every morning, I wake up and tell myself to be honest. Being honest has given my anxiety some serious competition. Mental illness has not flawed me, it has made me and everyone else I see experiencing this, a warrior.