See that smiling face up there? That’s the smile of a girl who has suffered from anxiety disorder for most of her young life. I can’t pinpoint exactly when it began, but for as long as I can remember, I have been a Type-A perfectionist, fueled by an unhealthy dose of worry and stress.
I am a chronic overthinker and everything in my life is made a million time mores complicated than it need be. Anxiety has led to countless meltdowns all because I was so worried about what could go wrong in any given situation. Sure, we all feel stress and overwhelm at some point for exams, interviews or important life changes. For me, this feeling is amplified to the max every. single. day. I have come a long way since college and could not be more proud. Moving across the globe to Australia for my first job was unfathomable to me just a few years ago when I was busy living inside my cozy box of comfort.
Contrary to popular belief, anxiety is not something you can just “get over” at the flip of a switch or the swallow of a pill. Anxiety is a chemical imbalance in the brain that is not something I can control.
- Don’t tell me to “chill out”, “calm down” or “just relax”
- Don’t tell me I’m irrational and it’s all in my head.
- Don’t tell me to stop being emotional or dramatic.
- Don’t ask me if I am PMSing.
- Don’t tell me you don’t see what the big deal is, I’m making mountains out of molehills.
- Don’t ask me if I’ve tried yoga or meditation.
- Don’t tell me this isn’t a “real” illness. It is very real. We suffer in silence.
- Don’t ask me if I took my meds this morning.
- Don’t tell me we all have stress so you know how I feel.
“He’s so chill and laidback…you are constantly on edge”
Anxiety tears apart my relationships. I overanalyze so much that I ruin them before they even begin, then beat myself up about letting a potentially amazing thing go. I am not blaming my behaviors on this illness, but it is a full-time job maintaining a sustainable relationship when I can barely stand being around myself.
“Why do you take that prescription, I’ve never seen you anxious?”
I’ve tried going au natural for a few months and I was unbearable. You know all those irrational fears I voice or pointless arguments I begin? That is my anxiety rearing it’s ugly head. I prefer to live a happy, normal life and medication allows me to come back to the surface and breathe.
“You look like you haven’t slept in days.”
That’s because I haven’t. Sleeping is absolutely the worst. I toss and turn for hours as my mind races in a million different directions.
The hardest part in all this is learning self-acceptance. Anxiety is draining but I refuse to let it control my life and steal my happiness. I need to learn more about myself, what triggers me and how I can best deal with these situations when they arise.
Anxiety is a silent disease and will certainly be a lifelong battle, but the only true setbacks we have in life are the things we allow to be defined as such. I am done feeling guilty and ashamed for something I cannot control.
Your mind is a powerful thing. When you fill it with positive thoughts, your life will start to change.
I have anxiety but I am not my anxiety. I am a strong, independent, and courageous woman who is ready to take on the world.
I am done being stuck in this poppy daze.