The Ugly Truth About Living With Anxiety
"She Believed She Could, So She Did"
How I made it out alive under the weight of my own anxiety.
The word anxiety does not begin to explain what I have lived with for the last 32 years. One of the very first times I remember having a panic attack I was 6. Everything around me started moving really fast. I was still, but everything started whirling around me. I was playing in my room and singing a song to myself, and I remember the words seemed to be coming faster than I was actually singing them. I tried to close my ears and sing slower, but like a ride at the fair, the words in my head just keep coming faster and faster. Then my heart started racing, and that's when I ran to get my mom to tell her what had happened to me. By the time my 6 year old self got to a point that I could explain what happened to her, all I could tell her was, "Everything just got so fast, I just wanted it to be normal again."
She probably thought I was nuts. Well, maybe I was. This same scenario continued to happen to me over and over again. There were so many times throughout my life that spinning dizzy feeling plagued me. Lots of times it was a vague feel like you were about to "pass out." Maybe I was just worried that I was going to pass out, or honestly just worried that someone would notice that something was wrong with me and it would cause unnecessary attention to myself. Sometimes it would be kicked off my things that were actually worthy of being nervous about (giving a speech, going in a crowd), but most often, they would come at times when I shouldn't have had anything to worry about at all. Everywhere I went, it followed right behind me. It was a shadow that never disappeared.
I hid every bit of this for everyone I knew. In fact, my own family "didn't believe in anxiety." Like that was some sort of choice. I eventually just stopped telling people and dealt with it the best I could. Oddly enough, the more assertive I was, the better I felt. I was on the dance team, participated in sports, even gave a Valedictorian speech at graduation. Every time I was able to make through something like that without passing out or panicking or doing whatever I thought was going to happen to me when I had a panic attack, I felt just a little bit stronger.
I struggled in college too, with only a few close friends knowing my secret. The stress of constantly moving from dorm to apartment, with new roommates every year made things so much worse. I was a nomad. The uncertainty of my living situations, and constant change really made my anxiety so much worse. I wanted so bad to be in control of my life, and the truth is that I had never felt so out of control.
At this point, I had never even thought about the possibility of medications, but I came from a family where you didn't take medication for your problems. Heck, you didn't even get glasses if you couldn't see, those were just the eyes that God gave you and you just made the best you could with what you had. Like alot of people I saw medication as a crutch or some sort of an admission that something was wrong with you, only because that's how I had been raised.
Finally, I meet Josh, who is now my husband. Turns out, as much as I like to get on to him for being a stick in the mud, he was the stick in the mud I needed to help me get back on solid ground. I got away from people in my life that were toxic. At the time, I felt like I had lost my friends. I felt alone. Looking back though, the people that were in my life, were making my anxiety issues worse by constantly expecting me to be someone who I wasn't. Although it hurt at the time, that is the single best thing that ever happened to me was to cleanse myself of people that couldn't accept me for me.
I did end up starting medication, that I continue to take to this very day. I also discovered essential oils that have helped me at times when I still feel like life is too much. (Don't worry, there are still lots of those times.) Here is a couple of things that 32 years of living with anxiety has taught me.
1. You never GET OVER IT, you just learn to live with it
2. Normal is just a setting on the washing machine
3. Medication is not a crutch or a sign that something is wrong with you. Depression and Anxiety are diseases. Just like other diseases- sometimes they are best managed with daily medications.
4. Some people are just wired a little tighter, God made us that way for a reason. Just accept that you are not ever going to be laid back. That's okay. Someone will love you for who you are.
5. Toxic people need to go. They bring you down in ways you can't even see until it's too late. Forgive them, don't dwell on it, and move on.
So, when I look at this- I see some much more than a beautiful design with the words in it. I see the last 32 years of my struggle with anxiety. I see the 6 year old girl that was in her room with everything going too fast that just wanted it all to be normal again. We made this shirt to celebrate our business, and to celebrate ourselves. It has taken me such a long time, but I can finally say I have found my happy place.