Sunday, January 8, 2017

Things Are About To Get Real



I can't tell you how many times I've written and re-written this post. How many posts like this one I've written and then deleted.

I still can't really decide if this is something I want to talk about. I've only talked about it with one person, a person I trust and love very much, and even then it made (and still makes) me feel uncomfortable. I think no matter how understanding someone is or how many times they tell me it isn't going to change the way they think of me, I'm always going to feel a little uncomfortable talking about it. I guess that sort of comes with the issue though.

I have anxiety. 

I haven't been medically diagnosed (because I haven't worked up the courage to talk to a professional about it yet) but it is something I struggle with on a daily basis. 

In my post about introverts, I mentioned that I didn't realize I was an introvert until college because spending almost my entire life in the same place with the same friends didn't really give me a chance to be super introverted. Similar story with my anxiety. It wasn't until about two years ago that I came to the (obvious) conclusion that I had anxiety. Looking back it's easy to see that I've had it for much longer but I always thought it was part of being shy or introverted or that these thoughts were things every person dealt with.

Anxiety manifests itself in everyone a little differently, but essentially it means you worry all the time. And I'm not talking about stressing about school or a couple of sleepless nights. Anxiety is a constant, pounding, never-ending worry about everything. It's not just being nervous about your first day of class, it is being nervous every single time you walk into a room because your mind is going over every possible thing that could go wrong. It makes you feel like everyone is staring at you, and they're not just staring at you, they're judging your outfit, the color of your water bottle, the way you walk. Anxiety is practicing saying "here" in your head as your teacher starts calling the roll, and beginning to sweat and shake as he approaches your name because what if your voice cracks or he doesn't hear you or you mess up? It's not eating a granola bar in class even though you're starving because you're afraid the wrapper is going to be too loud and everyone is going to look at you. It's tossing and turning in bed for hours not only because you are struggling with a relationship but also because you said something stupid to a coworker that they probably forgot about five minutes later, but two days later you certainly haven't.

Believe me, I have plenty more examples to share but for the sake of time I'll save them for another day. If you don't have anxiety this probably seems kind of ridiculous. And yeah, it kind of is. But it's real. It's something I'm working on but ultimately I can't control it and that's what makes it so hard. 

The stigma around mental health has started to decrease within the past few years, and that is awesome. I've wanted to be a part of the conversation for a while but like I said, my anxiety has told me that if I talk about it people are going to judge me and they're going to think about me differently and I'm going to annoy everyone who reads this. And I know that's not true, but that's the thing about anxiety- it blurs the line between what could happen and what is actually happening, and it does a really good job at it.

I also didn't want people to worry about me or think I'm more fragile in some way because of this. I have never liked the feeling of people feeling sorry for me. But I've been dealing with this for years now, and I'm still the same person I've always been. The Anne my friends and family knew five years ago is the same Anne writing this post (more or less). I'm still able to take care of myself and have fun and really enjoy my life. I have good days and bad days like everyone else- mine just probably involve a lot more needless worrying than most people's. I do have days that are much worse than others, where I have to stay home because I just can't get myself to leave my room. But I also have a job and I'm a full-time student and I have friends I socialize with (it does happen sometimes, I promise) and I have hobbies that I enjoy. I'll still finding new ways to deal with my anxiety, but overall I have a great life and I can easily recognize that. 

My biggest goal in life is to inspire people. Over the past couple of years I have discovered some people who also deal with anxiety or other mental health issues who have inspired and helped me more than they will ever know. And I guess if I have a chance to be that inspiration, even if it's to just one person in my lifetime, I need to take that chance. 

More posts to come, and maybe one day I'll get the courage to make a (gasp) video.

xoxo