Anxiety. A term overused by many people who quite honestly don't understand the true meaning. You see the term displayed in movies, TV shows and books, where the character who is "suffering" from anxiety is nervous about their first day of school, or their 7am job interview they have to prepare for. But everybody experiences this feeling of butterflies in your stomach, and this feeling is NOT anxiety. Anxiety is a thousand times worse, to the point where it begins to control your life and make everyday decisions for you. This is my story about dealing with anxiety and how it has made such a huge impact on my life.
When I was a child, I used to love going out with my family to all sorts of places. Restaurants, the mall, the park, absolutely anywhere. I always had so much fun spending time away from my house and just exploring the world like the child I was. All throughout elementary and middle school, I was like this. I felt like I could hold the world in the palm of my hands and use it to my advantage. Whenever my parents would tell me they were going to the grocery store, I always got this burst of energy and excitement. I would run to my room, throw on my shoes, and race my parents to the car. I would think to myself that nothing could be better than exploring absolutely everywhere.
As time passed, things started to change. I began high school in 2016 and at this point, I started making new friends and figuring out who I was and who I wanted to be. But things did not go the way I planned them to. From the start of my freshman year, to now, halfway through my junior year, matters with my family became really rough and that's what I believe launched the beginning of my struggle with anxiety. I started to isolate myself from so many people and stopped doing things that I loved. I played field hockey for about 11 years and stopped because I did not want to have to leave my room and see my teammates which honestly made no sense to me because I loved the girls on my team. But it made me so nervous and honestly scared to have to face them and spend time with other people. The beginning of junior year is really when my anxiety started to create problems and affect my relationships with others. I started taking Psychology classes because I honestly didn't understand what was going on. Was I depressed? Was this normal? Id ask myself so many questions and these classes just did not give me the answers I was looking for. I remember we started a unit on mental health and the different types of "mental disorders" there were. When we got to anxiety, that's when I started to pay attention. My teacher would go over the symptoms and Id hear kids in the back of the class say, "relatable," and laugh. But they didn't understand that it is a serious issue that myself and so many others deal with.
Weeks later, it was fourth period and I was in my history class, we had just taken an exam and were told to turn our test into our teacher at the front of the room when we finished. I was one of the first ones done and realized I had to walk my test up to the front of the room and hand it in. I was honestly terrified and my breathing became very heavy. I could hear my heart beat inside my head, and it sounded like a timer, ready to go off if I didn't stand up and submit my test. My legs began to shake under the desk, so I started tapping my foot against the white, tile floor in order for my classmates to not notice. 15 minutes went by and others had already delivered their exam to our teacher, yet I was still sat in my seat, head in my hands, trying to keep myself calm. My friend who was sat next to me noticed that something was wrong and whispered to me why I hadn't turned in my test. I took a deep breath and asked her if she could do it for me. Without questioning, she took my test and gave it to our teacher, and that's when I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. My breathing went back to normal and all I wanted to do was go home. This whole situation made me realize that something was wrong.
Earlier, I told you about how when I was a child, I loved going out to different places. Now, that is not the case. I hate shopping for myself with a passion because I know that once I'm done, I have to interact with a cashier in order to pay for my items. What if I don't have the right amount of cash? What if he/she asks me something and I don't know the answer to it? What if its someone I know? All of these questions would run through my head and I would end up sitting my items down and going to the car. So my resolution to this problem was online shopping. I didn't have to talk to anyone, let alone leave my room. It didn't matter if the item was $4 in store, but $10 online, I was just relieved that I could get the things I needed without having an absolute panic attack.
This is what life is like dealing with anxiety. It consumes your thoughts and makes life so difficult, I'm just really good at hiding it and acting like my anxiety isn't making my decisions for me. Hopefully, after reading about my story, you can talk about yours. I know that speaking up about something so serious is hard, trust me, it was hard to write about mine, but now I feel so much better about my situation and I promise you that you will too. My anxiety does not label me and the person who I am/ strive to me. Just know, that mental illness is a real thing that so many people struggle with, and if you are one of those people, you are NOT alone.