Very common yet so misunderstood.
Just a disclaimer, I am not a medical professional guru when it comes to the technical aspect of anxiety. I am speaking from my point of view, someone who deals with it. Anxiety is a funny thing in that it has so many faces and levels and no matter how hard you try to run from it, it suctions you back in. At one point in my life anxiety entered my life, uninvited. I like to say it started since I was in the womb. As they say, babies feel a mothers emotions. Now, I am NOT saying this is my mom’s fault, but it makes sense as my mother was dealing with a lot when she was pregnant with me. My fathers health, being a mother, a full-time servant to the church, my dad’s right hand, and life as whole. Any person would feel overwhelmed and anxious.
When I was born, I was born into a loving family. But, a family that was different than many other families as I have mentioned in my previous blog posts before. The impact of my dads health, him being a priest, and dealing with growing up in a community that loved my family but struggling to want him for myself were other factors of my anxiety. I had other personal/academic factors that also contributed to my anxiety (i.e being overweight). All these puzzle pieces came together and formed my masterpiece called, anxiety. I exposed it in different ways throughout my life. Whether it was crying, shutting down, knots in my stomach, sweaty hands, over analyzing, and being an emotional eater. Despite how I dealt with it, I still managed to keep the monster quiet and to not allow it to take over my life.
I was extremely good at hiding when I was anxious especially as I got into High School & College. I never wanted my friends (even my closest ones at the time) and people I would meet to think I was “scared” or had something that would stop me from little things like riding a roller coaster. So, I would always suppress it so it didn’t interfere with my life. I mean, with everything I was going through personally, I didn’t have time to deal with this unwelcome “friend”. So, the best way I knew how to deal with it, was by closing it off with temporary fixes (shopping, going out, eating). But, again my anxiety wasn’t at it’s highest which is why I was able to mask it.
The year my father died and prior to his death, is when my anxiety creeped up more and more. I would have sleepless nights and every time I would see my mom or sister calling me, I could feel my heart racing as I would anticipate the worst on the other end. Even, when I would visit him, I felt time racing against me as I would walk into the hospital. I was always anxious to see what that day held for him and our family. To be honest, I dealt with it in that some days I couldn’t stand seeing him in that state so I would leave early and hide my anxiety and pain by going out with friends. When dealing with life changing events, there is no manual in how to deal with anxiety. We all deal with it differently.
Today, after 2 years of dealing with the decline of my health & my overall journey and having surgery, my anxiety truly became the main character of my life. I could no longer hide, mask, suppress, or “act” like I can handle it. The truth was, this past summer is when it took over my life. I woke up anxious, my whole day was filled with anxiety, and slept with the monster. Yes, the last 31 years of my life has played a huge role into my anxiety but I must also make it clear in that when you have an autoimmune disease, one that is chronic and invisible, anxiety is a MAJOR asset unfortunately. I can confidently say that it’s the same case with all who suffer with any disease, in that they also suffer with being anxious 24/7.
I was dealing with being very ill and learning to cope with my anxiety being heightened. It felt like a job and I felt like a prisoner in my own body. I hated the feeling. It also didn’t help with my disease as anxiety can increase the side effects I was getting already. I hated when people would say “just don’t be anxious” its not that easy at all. Don’t you think I would want to shut it off like a light switch? It would be one less thing to deal with. I tried therapy and it just wasn’t for me. I would cry daily because of the feeling that it took over me. I hated the idea of taking something for it, I was uneducated about the medication end. After much prayer, talking to many people and getting the love and support from my family, I decided to finally shut this monster once and for all.
Just as I can’t cure my autoimmune disease, you can’t cure anxiety. But, I am here to share my story because I want others who may feel alone to know you aren’t as this effects many people. There isn’t a face to anxiety, we all suffer from it but others like myself, suffer from it more to the point I needed to take something for it and I AM PROUD! I will no longer be ashamed of it or ever again try to hide it. And you too shouldn’t be ashamed. There are so many options out there, you just have to ask and find the right one for you. I still get days where my anxiety is more than others (like when flying or when I feel a major event is coming, i.e the day my dad died, my next surgery, etc) but, I now know how to deal with it and do what I need to do to get it under control.
Anxiety doesn’t define me or control me…anymore thank God:)