I didn't know whether or not to write this post. I've been thinking about it for about the last month, but can never get up enough courage to actually do it. Whether it be because I don't want to put too much personal stuff on my blog, or I don't want people to perceive me differently, or I just don't want to admit a weakness, I don't know. But then I finally just said, maybe I need to put myself out there, and throw it out there so it's just that--out there. I hate feeling like I'm the only going through things, or have issues, because I know I'm not, but I don't let myself believe that other people feel like this; so hopefully by me talking about it, it will show someone else that might be going through it that they aren't alone, and I'm going through it too and maybe in return I can feel assured that I'm not alone, either.
For as long as I can remember I've dealt with anxiety. I was a nervous child. I would worry about everything. I had separation anxiety and would get homesick a lot, so I never spent the night over anyone's house and I had a hard time going to school. I was painfully shy, but always attracted extremely outgoing friends (Perfect case of opposites attract, over-bearing personalities being attracted to passive personalities), and because of that, they never could understand why I didn't want to spend the night at their house, or go on vacations with their family. As I got older, into middle school and through out high school, things got easier, I felt more comfortable and there were many times I spent the night with friends or went places. I'd like to think I was quite social in high school; I was a cheerleader for a little while, I got on Winter Semi-Formal court two different years. I was no longer awkwardly shy, I was comfortable with the personality I was shaping for myself-- I could initiate conversations and be quick with a comeback and could joke with the best of them. But the entire time I still secretly struggled with anxiety. I didn't really tell anyone about it because I figured it was normal to be nervous about things and usually once I did whatever I was nervous about, the nerves went away.
But then around my senior year of high school, I noticed myself getting increasingly anxious about things. It could have been due to personal things like relationships and the fact that I was getting ready to graduate and enter the "real world" and it was overwhelming me. And when I get overwhelmed I break down and I shut down. I will usually have some sort of emotional meltdown followed by complete seclusion where I don't want to talk to anyone or hang out with anyone, I just want to stop life for a little bit and recoup. (This is what originally prompted me to write this post, because a similar "breakdown/shutdown" happened recently) So, for long story not-so-short, this was around the time when I started getting anxiety attacks. The first attack I remember, even though I didn't know that's what it was at the time, was coming home from hanging out with my then boyfriend and completely out of nowhere have this overwhelming feeling come over me, and I felt like my chest was heavy and I had to lay down, then I had to open my window, even though it was freezing outside, just to feel like I could breath. From then on, it just got progressively worse.
Maybe sometime I'll fill you in on what happened from then until now that contributed to this as well, but for the sake of time and sanity, I'll flash forward and summarize. The past 6 years have been some of the hardest, darkest, most hopeless and overwhelming years of my life. The anxiety overtook my life. My anxiety is my life. My anxiety attacks turned into agoraphobia, and I would barely leave my house. I always canceled plans and appointments. I avoided making any sort of set plans with anything because for days leading up to whatever I had planned, I'd be a nervous wreck. For something as simple as hanging out with a friend. It got to the point where even going out shopping with my parents turned into crying in the car and not being able to breath. It was like waves of anxiety and panic were crashing on top of me and I'd forgotten how to swim and it was getting harder and harder to stay afloat.
In August of 2009, I'd finally made the decision to begin the process of getting help. I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and agoraphobia. I got on medication and started seeing a therapist. It was a relief to finally be told that what I had was real, and I wasn't crazy and it wasn't just in my head, and there was hope of me getting better. Even though I believe I'm in a better place than I was, say, 3 years ago... it's still something I battle with every day. With every type of obstacle you live with, there are always good days and bad days. For me, it seems like I go through good months and bad months. I won't get an attack for awhile and then I feel like it's non-stop anxiety. Ever since the end of January, it's been almost non-stop anxiety. Some of the worst it's ever been. Sometimes it was to the point I'd get physically ill, and another time I didn't leave my room for 3 days. If you've noticed that I haven't been posting as much lately, or seemed like I took a break from blogging, that was the reason. I didn't want to do anything, let alone get dressed and take pictures of myself. That same week, I woke up having a panic attack. I thought if my heart beat any faster it was either going to burst, or I was going to have a heart attack. That day I decided to go back to a therapist, after not going to one for almost a year. It felt good to be taking steps to help myself again, but it also felt like I was back to square one, and the anxiety was still stronger than me. I'm still just taking it day by day, slowly trying to overcome my fears.
I know this is long, and personal, and I appreciate if you read this far. Sometimes I feel like if I talk about it, and let people know, it doesn't feel so much like a secret that's weighing on me but something that's out in the open. For so long I was embarrassed to tell anyone other than my family because I felt like it was a childish phase I never grew out of, but now I know that's not the case. I know there are other people out there dealing with this too. It's something I'm always going to have to live with, it's the cross I have to bear, so I might as well fess up to it and let people know that it's just apart of who I am. If it's apart of who you are, too, take comfort in knowing that I know how you feel and I know what you're going through, and we're going to be okay. I started Words of Wisdom Wednesday not only for my readers, but for myself, too. I do them months in advance and purposely forget what I've posted, so every Wednesday it's like getting a new little nugget of motivation and advice from myself. It makes me feel a little bit better, and hopefully it makes you feel the same. Because we're going to be okay, you and I. We really are.