Anxiety F E E L S

May 24, 2017

What it feels like having anxiety,
and how to know,
you are not alone.

Having anxiety is like feeling you're on the tip of a mountain - forever.

I almost missed out on one of the most fun, happy, and rewarding weekends of my life. Why? One word: Anxiety. I have dealt with anxiety for nearly 10 years now, and not only has it tried to take over parts of my life – it did take over parts of my life.

When I was in middle school, I was bullied by numerous people, and anxiety started developing. I was only twelve at the time, and so I thought there was something wrong with me. I knew I was nervous to go to school – the unknowingness of what would happen terrified me to death. I couldn’t eat. I had restless nights. And I struggled to have fun because in the back of my mind, I was always worried about something bad happening, something I couldn’t control.

When I got to high school, the anxiety subsided a bit, however I felt more depressed. My abuse in middle school really got me wary of people around me, and how they would treat me. I felt defenseless. I started hating myself. I wasn’t happy anymore. Though the anxiety subsided, as I mentioned, it still woke me up in the middle of the night. I would lie awake for hours, just waiting for the sun to rise, so I could. I wanted to get to school as fast as I could to make sure everything was okay.

With anxiety, it was difficult to be spontaneous or allow myself to let things go. I was controlling. Whenever there was a group assignment, I insisted on holding all of the work we did, anxious that it wouldn’t get turned in. I put so much pressure on myself to try and make everything perfect. I hardly went to my friend houses because it was easier to have them come to mine. I thought using the excuse, “My house is closer” was the reason, but it was really so I could control my anxiety. Going over to a friend’s house meant being put in a situation where I didn’t know what was going to happen. Where we would go, what their house would look like, what they would do, and talking to family members.

My anxiety also created social anxiety in me. It scared me to go to a friend’s house because I would have to be social with their parents, or siblings if they were home. I was uncomfortable with myself, not sure what to say or talk about, or how to act. Due to anxiety, I acted differently. I wasn’t loose, or fun, or go-with-the-flow. It would have been difficult to start a conversation – about anything – with people I didn’t know.

Because of anxiety, I left college in Las Vegas after a year. I moved from NYC to Vegas, because I wanted to make my way over to California eventually but the anxiety stopped me. It stopped me from making friends, from going out, from having fun. I laid in my bed, waiting for May, when I could go back home to New York. I missed out on fun adventures, meeting potential friends or boyfriends, having fun. I was anxious about what would happen if I went out. Where would be go? What would we do? Would I have to talk to a lot of people? The answer to all of those was probably a yes. And that terrified the shit out of me.

Anxiety also affected my health. I was endlessly nauseous; always feeling like I was going to throw up or have the runs. Sometimes I did, though. The nausea went on for about 2 and half years. I saw numerous doctors, as I didn’t know at the time it was anxiety. I thought it was my being lactose intolerant, a cyst, a virus. Test after test, doctors told me there was nothing they could see causing that much nausea and pain.

In the summer of 2016, I had a sort of epiphany. I started thinking about life, retrospectively, and wanted to better myself. I ended my two-and-a-half-year therapy time because I knew I had to work on myself, for myself. I had to make a mental list for myself of things I wanted. A good job, good friends, to live in California, a job, be a published writer, to lose weight, and a few more personal things I want to keep private.

In order to get the things, I wanted, I had to make conscious efforts to make sure I get them. I changed my mindset. I wanted more friends – I talked to more people. I wanted a job – I took 6am morning shifts at my friend’s gym. I wanted to lose weight – I worked out, ate healthy and lost 15 lbs. The more I practiced changing my mind set – being more confident, social, etc. the better I became at it, and the more natural it felt.

Though it sounds easy, it wasn’t. Deciding you want to change, is more difficult than doing it, of course. It took nearly a year. Each day I developed more, and turned into the person I am now. It was hard work. I relapse a lot. Cry, scream, hit myself. I’m still human. But I am miles ahead of where I was, and I’m proud of that.

If I hadn’t taken done all that work, to better myself, and my anxiety I probably wouldn’t have agreed to the VS PINK weekend. My anxiety would have gotten the better of me. I would have wanted to go, more than anything, but it would’ve felt better to stay home – where I felt safe.

But I fought my anxiety. I am better. I went to California. I was very anxious before going – wondering if they would like me and what it would be like. But I knew I was ready, and I could do it. And, it was the best thing I could have done for myself. And, it was the best weekend of my life.