I don’t feel like the people in my life whom I love and who are important to me will ever fully understand my anxiety. I mean, I don’t even understand it myself. It’s such an inner turmoil that has no rationale and no explanation… I’ve always felt like it’s its own being, like it has control over me and it has the say in how I feel and my physical state. I’ve never been able to talk myself out of the completely irrational feelings and physical reactions my anxiety causes. No matter how aware I am that it makes no sense, that I shouldn’t be feeling the way I’m feeling because it’s silly, that I’m being completely illogical! It’s like I’m talking to something that lives inside me, trying to tell it to calm down, to be reasonable, there is nothing happening to me that is dangerous, or scary, or any cause for panic. If I tell people—who don’t know what anxiety feels like—how I am feeling in the moment, they tell me to calm down, stop worrying and overthinking things. They try and be rational towards me when the thing that is happening to me is completely irrational and illogical and against my will. I am 100% aware that the way I am feeling doesn’t make sense or isn’t justified, I am telling my inner self—my anxiety, that thing that feels like its own entity with its own will inside of me—all of the same stuff; calm down, stop worrying, stop overthinking, you’re okay. Like I’m trying to use logic to close the seal on something that is slowly pushing its poison out into my body. There are things that set it off the most though. Things that, if I were asked, I’d never say I was afraid of or worried about because I truly never thought I was, until my anxiety caused a physical reaction in those particular situations that made me question if I actually knew myself—because if a situation that seemed perfectly normal and undaunting in my mind caused a panic attack when I was in it, what did I know about the things that I could approach without fear and the things that formed a ball of dread and nerves in the pit of my stomach? If someone asked me today the things that I am afraid of, based on when my anxiety rears its ugly head, I would have to say social situations in general (despite the fact that I am pretty extroverted at times and love making new friends, hanging out with people and talking. I also enjoy parties), moving (I move two times a year—moving back to my home city in the summer and back to my school city in the fall, and I’m super excited each time), running into people I know or used to know in public, driving, being on the highway, walking down the street (simultaneously feeling like everyone is looking at you but also like you’re being looked right through), walking onto a bus, into a building, restaurant, store, classroom, etc. (going into a public/crowded place and walking through a door by yourself so you know people are going to look at you)… The list could go on. And here’s the thing. ALL of these things are completely irrational. I tell myself that hundreds of times a day. And I am a confident person, I like my physical appearance, and I’ll just be honest in the fact that I do notice that I draw people’s attention. The rational, normal (detached from anxiety) side of me is fine with having people look at me because I’m confident in myself, I love every time I move because it always feels like starting a new phase of my life, I’m a pretty social person and I like going out and doing new things. But somehow, when I find myself in the middle of these every day situations, I become incapacitated by anxiety and panic. I get sick to my stomach—sometimes I throw up—, I get the cold sweats, I get clammy, I get tremors and shakes, I can’t focus on anything.
My anxiety calls me a liar. I love rollercoasters and amusement park rides, but I can’t go to amusement parks anymore because my anxiety hits me so hard that I can’t even walk around for fear of throwing up, let alone go on an adrenaline-inducing ride. That’s the clearest example in my life of how my anxiety prevents me from doing the things I love doing and basically tries to stop me from enjoying life. I try push through, to go out and do the things I enjoy and just wait for my anxiety to pass, but sometimes it doesn’t pass… And then I become so panicked that the people around me think I’m being overdramatic or they’re worried about me because I feel sick, and I’m ruining their time, but I can’t explain what’s wrong with me in a way that they’ll understand. It’s a constant, continuous fight. It’s like a rope is wrapped around my neck, and I’m trying to walk forward and pull against it, and sometimes I can gain some distance, but I always feel it there. But most times it tugs me back and I can’t fight it. It’s a daily struggle. But even the days that I do make some distance with the rope around my neck, it doesn’t even feel like something I had control over. It just feels like the thing inside me made the conscious decision to ease up a bit on me that day—it was no conscious decision of mine. Because if it were up to me, I’d be able to talk myself down from it every single time it washed over me. It would not be an issue. If it were based on logic and rationality. But it isn’t. It has a mind of its own, one that I have no control over and gives me no say. I’m only along for the ride.