Some times there’s a breakdown before there’s a break through. For me it seems as though this is always the case. As I write this blog from my bedroom, back home, my mind is consumed with a million and one different thoughts I’d like to share, and I’m puzzled by the best way to start. I guess I can begin by trying to make you understand…
What does it feel like to have Anxiety?
For me it’s a constant conversation in my head. It’s over-analyzing every situation, thinking about every possible outcome, and stressing about the worst possible one becoming a reality. It’s feeling as though everyone is looking at you all the time, and judging you for your thoughts, actions, and beliefs, even if it’s just a stranger passing on the street. It’s never having peace of mind because it is always running. Remembering something embarrassing you did years ago, worrying that the boy you like is doing X, Y, and Z because he’s not physically present for you to know, believing you are going to fail the test you have in a week because one concept is just not clicking for you, terrified that people are talking behind your back without there even being an actual reason for you to think that. Having anxiety is always wanting to be liked, always wanting to be perfect, always caring about what others think of you, even though you wish more than anything you didn’t feel that way.
What does it feel like to have an Anxiety Attack?
It’s being sad. Or nervous. Or overwhelmed. Or angry. It’s the inability to keep your emotions in you’re head any longer, thus letting it affect your entire body. It’s not being able to breathe because it feels like somebody is sitting on your chest. It’s sobbing and hyperventilating so hard, every inch of your body shakes and you have no control over yourself, despite your mind screaming at you to calm down, to relax, to breathe slow. It’s terrifying and traumatizing, and it can be triggered by something so small or something huge that happens to you. The severity and the frequency depend on what’s being released. How long has it been since you’ve confronted these demons that plague your mind? How long have you been bottling up your emotions, pushing stress to the back of your mind? Having an anxiety attack feels like you’re going crazy. It makes you question if you are crazy. It makes you question what crazy actually is.
Since I was in high school I struggled with anxiety attacks. I can’t remember when exactly it started but I can remember my first one. Me and my mom were fighting in the kitchen, something that wasn’t uncommon back when I was a teen, and I remember being so upset I just ran outside into the rainy backyard and collapsed onto the wet grass, becoming soaked in the process. I couldn’t stop crying I was so overwhelmed with emotions. My mother came outside, picked up my limp hysterical body and brought me to the bathroom where a hot shower was already waiting for me. I felt new, after calming myself down. I felt empty, numb, vulnerable, and exhausted. It’s how I still feel after all these years, after every time I have an anxiety attack. Now, I never really considered my anxiety a problem. I never sought out someone to talk to, I never took medication for it. In fact, I don’t even think I recognized that anxiety was a part of my daily life until a couple of months ago. I didn’t even fully realize what anxiety was. I just thought that it was a part of me, not a mental illness, not something that others experienced, just who I was. And it is a part of me, but not something that cannot be changed like I always thought.
Since the passing of my friend, Stephanie, in January, I have struggled the past 3 months with handling my grief. I had been told by friends, co workers, teachers, and especially my mother, that I should go to counseling because talking to somebody could only help. I considered it many times yet could never find the time to actually push myself to follow through. I already have a busy stressful schedule and couldn’t see myself taking on another responsibility, no matter how beneficial it was to my well being. In fact, the majority of the semester I believed I really didn’t need to go because I was doing just fine. Every time I felt sad, I would retreat to my room for a moments time, until I felt ready to interact with the world again. This wasn’t the right way to be handling things, and I guess that’s why it eventually caught up to me.
Remember when I said it could be the littlest thing that sets off an anxiety attack? After having a series of unfortunate events unfold in my life within a 24 hour period of each other, it was studying for an exam 2 days later that pushed me over the edge. I felt it when I woke up that morning that I was close to a break down, and after arriving at campus at 9 am Thursday morning, I attempted to make an appointment at the UAlbany counseling center. They were unfortunately booked up for the day and were only able to see me for a brief 20-minute period. It wasn’t long enough.
I returned back to the library and to studying for my exam, but as the time grew closer to the test, nothing I was reading made any sense to me, and my anxiety grew. When I started to get hysterical, to the point where I knew I could not sit and study any longer, I excused myself from the table I was studying at with a friend, and made my way to the library exit. I had never had an anxiety attack in public before. Usually, it happens in the comfort of my own home. I didn’t know what to do, where to go, how to stay calm. Luckily, on my way out of the library, I ran into a close friend of mine who brought me outside and sat with me while I had the most severe panic attack I’ve ever had. It lasted 45 minutes and ended after I was escorted from an ambulance into the emergency room of Albany Med. I had told my friend to call them as I wasn’t able to calm myself down. I was terrified, and being on the podium, surrounded by hundreds of other students filing to and from classes made me feel as if everyone was watching and knew that the crazy girl was having a panic attack.
The time I spent in the hospital is a story for another day, but it, ultimately, ended with me deciding to get away from Albany for a couple of days. That’s why I write this from my home as I try to recover from the emotional distress I put myself through. I feel numb, I feel empty, I feel vulnerable, but I have hope. I know what I need to do and it starts by getting help. I wish it didn’t take me so long to come to this realization, but now that I am here, I am committed. I used to wish for so long that I was born with a simpler mind, that I didn’t think as much as I do. I am happy I am who I am, and even though I was born with this complicated mind, I need to look at it as a gift. I see the world in my own way and I need to start to focus on the positive aspects of this, instead of the negatives. Like I say with every blog I write, life is an unpaved journey to self discovery. There will be times where things don’t make sense and there will be struggles but within those experiences, where your limits are tested are you able to learn and grow.
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About the Author:
Class of 2018
Majors: Spanish & Communication
Past Blog Theme:
Fierce & Freaked
Current Blog Theme: