Thinking back on my life, I realize now that I’ve always struggled with anxiety, even as a child. I didn’t really know how to label it back then because as a kid, you have no idea what’s going on in your head or why you’re feeling the way you do. Anxiety is not a term people just throw around in daily conversations either. Even if people recognize it, they don’t usually talk about it. As far as I was concerned, I was an over thinker. I was easily stressed - detail-oriented – high maintenance. These overwhelming qualities I had were personality traits that were a part of me. I was that kid who couldn’t go to sleep unless my bed was made in exactly the right way. I experienced actual, breath-taking frustration when things weren’t the way I wanted them. People reminded me on a daily basis that I was difficult and dramatic…and I was choosing to be that way. As I understood it, this was something I was doing to myself.
It’s interesting to look back on these moments as I grow to be more in touch with my emotions. I never really knew all of my sleepless nights and insecurities were a result of my anxiety until I got to college and had to figure out a way to take care of myself. Years passed and I grew more and more aware of the fact that it wasn’t necessarily normal for me to be overwhelmed to the point where it got in the way of my daily functioning. I've cried and laid awake at night simply because of one small thing someone said or a bad grade, and I recognize now that it's because I’ve been dealing with anxiety my whole life. It’s only been within the last few years that I’ve been able to acknowledge this part of me and learn to live with it.
It’s crazy to think that the simple act of admitting to myself that I have an anxiety problem has helped me more than any coping mechanism or self-care technique I’ve ever tried. I have anxiety. And it’s okay for you, the one reading this, to know about that part of me. Having anxiety doesn’t make me less important and it surely, doesn’t make me weak. I get worried about things that are small, sometimes I’m unable to complete daily tasks because my fear of failure is so intoxicating, often I panic about nothing or spend hours fixated on one issue, and other times, I isolate myself because it’s easier than facing the uncertainties that life brings. In my head, I paint every situation to be more serious than it actually is and I don’t always have control over that.
It’s anxiety and it’s real. There’s been no bigger step forward for me than acknowledging how anxiety plays a role in my daily life. As I’ve grown to accept it and embrace how life works for me, I’m better than I’ve ever been before. Now, when I feel anxious, I am able to recognize those feelings early on. I accept their presence but don’t let them take over. I fight anxiety with exercise and writing because that’s what works for me. Unapologetically acknowledging this part of myself that I’ve always been afraid to reveal to others has helped me become stronger and better at coping. My anxiety is no longer something that defines me. It is there and it will always walk with me, but now, when it wakes me up in the middle of the night screaming loudly in my ear, I shout right back. My anxiety is part of me, but it will not break me, it will not control me, and most importantly - I will not apologize for it. It is who I am and I'm okay with that.
Featured quote: "What is stronger than the human heart, which shatters over and over and still lives." -Rupi Kaur
Trigger Warning: This blog may discuss topics related to mental illness and trauma that could be potentially triggering. If you or anyone you know is in crisis, please click the link below for 24/7 support. Dial 911 if you or anyone you know is at immediate risk to yourself, themselves, or another.