The discovery of me has been a long, tempestuous yet exciting journey. Although I have been severely anxious as long as I can remember, it has manifested itself at different points along the emotional spectrum throughout my life.
As a 7-year old, too young to comprehend the complexity of the inner goings-on of my mind, I got angry. I mean, really angry. At anything. My parents were confused (where had their smiley child gone? At which point had the switch flipped?). I thought I was an angry person and was condemned to be so my entire life.
As an 18-year old, my anxiety manifested itself in social settings. Far from the confidence I felt as a 10-year old, I came to the understanding that no one would like me anyway, so I may as well not even try. Saying things out loud became physically challenging, as did motivating myself to achieve anything that had to be completed outside the confines of my bedroom.
As a 23-year old, my anxiety slipped from social situations into a work environment. Suddenly, every task I was faced with was placed under a self-imposed microscope. Nothing I ever did was good enough – I could have always done something better. Every mistake I made, however small, was literally the worst mistake anyone had ever made. I couldn’t shut my mind down. I continued to beat myself up about it – sometimes for days, sometimes for months and months.
As a 24-year old, I read something about anxiety. Although I had always associated the word ‘anxiety’ with stress, I quickly found out that it was a condition that transcended cause-and-effect. Instead of feeling anxious as a direct result from stress, anxiety was a condition that could strike as a result of literally nothing. It was a type of physical and mental stress that made you feel intense fear over a scenario of perceived danger, even if that danger wasn’t really there.
That was me.
The realisation that ‘anxiety’ was an actual thing created a sense of relief for me. I wasn’t crazy, there was a reason for how I had felt my whole life. It created a pivot point around which I could seek treatment and start to heal myself. It was liberating, yet scary at the same time.
As a 27-year old, I am slowly working through the day-to-day trappings of an anxious life, navigating panic attacks, self doubt, lack of sleep, perpetually sweaty palms and a tight chest.
Slowly gaining perspective. Learning to self-soothe. Sharing my journey in a bid to help others.
‘It’s always ok in the end. If it’s not ok, it’s not the end’ – anonymous
-the aspiring calm-