I originally hesitated to post this series around the holidays because it’s a bit of a downer, however since I know the holidays are a bit of a struggle for some people, I hope that by sharing my story, I can help others to realize they aren’t alone in dealing with anxiety and that seeking help is a good thing!
My journey with anxiety is something I’ve touched on in different posts on my blog, but until now, it isn’t something I’ve directly addressed (with exception of the “anxiety the asshole” tag).
Given that I know I’m not the only one who has struggled with anxiety, and that anxiety and depression aren’t widely talked about, I wanted to shed some light on what anxiety is, how it’s affected my life and why I chose to seek help via medication.
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or a therapist. If you’re struggling with depression or anxiety, or just life in general, please speak with your doctor, therapist or a friend.
The Early Years
Back as far as I can remember, I was always a bit of a particular child. I liked certain things “just so” and did not deal with change well. At all. I remember a time when I was about 4 years old. I was spreading my blanket on the floor so I could sit on it, but for the life of me I could not get that dang blanket straight. Not matter what I did the edges weren’t straight and it was wrinkled. Yes, at 4 years old I cared. Oh, how I cared. I’m fairly certain this ended with me in tears because “IT WAS WRINKLED”.
Funny now? Kind of, but I still cringe at thinking how distraught I was over a blanket.
A alluded to this in my December Goals post: I set expectations of how things will be and would completely lose it if things didn’t go as planned. As a child, if we had people over for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, I’d have an idea in my head of what we would do, when we would do it and where people would sit.
How many times do you think this went as planned? Practically never? You’d be right. Even still, I’d usually end up in tears, crying on my bed until I was able to calm myself down.
The School Years
Earlier this year my mom and I were talking about my anxiety and how she wasn’t surprised about my diagnoses and decision to seek help for it. She relayed stories about how I would pretty much lose.my.shit at exam time only to calm now after and have it be not a big deal.
That’s definitely familiar to me. Worrying about failing an exam, crying, not sleeping, fretting, everything. Fact: I was a straight A student and didn’t really need to worry about failing an exam. Ever. And yet? I still did.
In my mind the outcome justified the worrying.
If I worried and it all turned out fine, that’s because I had worried about it; if I didn’t worry about it, then it wouldn’t turn out fine.
I know, this basically makes zero sense at all, but that’s just how my brain works.
The Grown-Up Years
For a long time, I thought my anxiety was actually a function of being an introvert, except, I didn’t figure out that I was truly introverted until this year, so I just thought I was socially awkward and inept and was bound to have no friends.
I would spend hours analyzing every social interaction where I may have made a mistake, agonizing that so-and-so was going to hate me, or never talk to me again because I made one mistake. A friend didn’t answer a text message? Well then, it was all over.
Practically anything would throw me into an anxiety spiral.
The tiniest things would keep me up at night. I once barely slept on a vacation because I was scared the cats might knock over something fragile I had left on the counter. Staying up at night certainly wouldn’t help the situation, but still, the end justified the means.
I’d snap at my then-husband on a very regular basis. Anytime I felt insecure, I also felt anxious and would lash out at the people who cared for me.
I was a treat to be around, let me tell you.
At first I thought I was a miserable person to be around because I was depressed. I didn’t know much about anxiety, all I knew was that I felt on edge, about to explode, at any time, and I just knew it wasn’t right.
Not knowing what else to do I went to see my doctor to explain what I was feeling and what could be done. This was in 2009. I was given a script to take Ativan on an as-needed basis, but knowing the addictive properties of Ativan and that it couldn’t be taken with any alcohol, I resisted. (Stupid? Sure. No one said I always made the best decisions).
I wish I could say I continued to seek help after this point, but instead I just continued doing what I was doing and thinking that feeling nerves in every situation was a totally normal thing…
Tell me: Have you suffered from anxiety?