An internal struggle: a battle with anxiety

December 15, 2022

Anxiety is like walking down a dark street, alone, at night. Like there is an animal gnawing at your stomach. Like butterflies fluttering in your heart. 

A constant rush of adrenaline. A heart rate spike. A wave of nausea. A stomach drop. Unable to focus on anything other than your body failing to function normally. 

I think it started when I was 13. When my dad was in the hospital when he first got diagnosed with stage 4 Mantle Cell Lymphoma. Everyone else in my family was stressed out and worried. I had my first anxiety attack that day. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t function, and I thought I was going to die that night. Ever since then, they’ve started to be more frequent, more regular, and over the smallest things in my life.  

My parents tell me I’m being overdramatic. That I’m just “stressing myself out for no reason”.  The other adults in my life tell me I’m “too young to have anything to be anxious about”. But really, my anxiety has made me feel like the crazy person they make me out to be. People didn’t understand. They told me to “stop worrying,” or to “just calm down,” as if I wouldn’t be doing that if it were that simple to control.  

I felt like I was losing my mind. Unable to think or breathe in the middle of a test.

Escaping to the bathroom mid-work shift to have an anxiety attack where no one could see me. Spending nights after school hyperventilating and crying.Canceling plans with friends because I couldn’t handle being around people.

It followed me everywhere. 

I couldn’t escape it. Like a constant nag whispering in my ear. Controlling my every move, my every thought. 

For years I couldn’t understand why my body felt this way. Why I couldn’t be “normal”. But turns out I wasn’t “abnormal,” I just had to figure out how to tame the flames burning inside of me. An extra burden that others didn’t understand, and didn’t have to deal with. 

I had to learn how to calm my breathing and my heart rate during an anxiety attack. I learned how to have other escapes that reduced my anxiety overall, and prevented an anxiety attack in the first place. I started running outside more, listening to music more, and keeping myself busy. Most importantly, I had the support of the people in my life who understood how to help. 

Luckily, we live in a generation where mental health is becoming more understood and accepted. Also a generation where everything is on the internet. I had many resources where I could research and understand my anxiety more. I was able to hear other people’s experiences and war stories with their anxiety, and how they dealt with it.

Anxiety is a real physical thing that could completely alter a person’s life, and that needs to be acknowledged

Anxiety is like walking down a dark street, alone, at night. Like there is an animal gnawing at your stomach. Like butterflies fluttering in your heart.

But when you learn how to conquer it, you no longer feel crazy. You are just a person with anxiety. And that’s OK.

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