By: Ana Ana
I've been living with anxiety for the past 4 years. I remember my first anxiety attack in college after a huge fight that made me worry about where the future was heading for me. I was scared I would end up alone, I started panicking I wouldn't find a passion I could work in. Since then, I would have these reoccurring episodes of emotional breakdowns, never understanding what it was. It didn't just spring up though. In high school I suffered depression, and my fight against myself led me to appreciate life, but develop anxiety towards the future and the world around me.
Living with anxiety is by far the hardest thing in my life and it has caused me pain and suffering during days where everything seems fine. One thought leads to another and another and soon enough I am distracted within my own thoughts, unable to focus on what is presently around me and miss conversations that occur right in front of me. It's caused me to be chronically late on multiple occasions because my mind is racing all morning. It's caused me to cancel events because I become emotionally unsteady. It's caused me to lay awake at night and wake up in the middle of the night worrying about mundane and illogical problems that I create in my head. It's caused me to day dream about scenarios that have happened and what I might have said wrong, and start to wonder why someone hates me, or beat myself up for even starting a conversation.
It's hard when I hear people tell me I'm too young to be feeling this way. That things will fall in place and everything will turn out well in the end. A person with anxiety does not think that way. They consistently worry about whether they will find or maintain happiness, unable to recognize that they can CHOOSE to be happy. They worry about being alone and unloved, knowing that it's okay to be alone, and that love comes from different places and people. They worry about small actions they've done, and overanalyze situations to something that just isn't true. They don't choose to be illogical, it just is.
For me, I consistently live in fear I'll end up alone and unhappy, even though I currently am not. I live with the fear that I will say something wrong to a friend, that will cause them to walk out of my life for good. I worry that I won't be a good enough friend to keep them around and end up alone. I worry that I'll never find someone who loves me or wants to give me the time of day to get to know me, so I worry I will end up unloved. I fear and over think that being loved equates to being happy and that every moment I spend with my thoughts and myself are moments of struggling to love myself or hate the silence. I find myself trying to show as much love and compassion to everyone I meet because I know the feeling of thinking you are unhappy and unloved.
My mind is my worst enemy. It taunts me with things that could be instead of focusing on things that are. There is no magical cure for anxiety. It's just something you have to manage and push down every day. Through breathing, through medicine, through exercise, hobbies, or meditation. But even then, anxiety can still seep through.
I want people to know and understand that people with anxiety aren't crazy. They don't choose to always worry and over think. It's a parasite of the mind that prevents me from being myself sometimes and keeps me up at night in fear of the future. It's mentally, emotionally draining and exhausting having anxiety. It always wants to keep you thinking that something will go wrong, or you don't deserve happiness because something is wrong, when in reality, everything is okay. It's a constant weight on my shoulder that I can never shrug off. I write in a journal every day to try and manage my thoughts and understand that it's okay to think and feel the way I do, but it doesn't make it true. I write about things I appreciate in the moment to remind me to come back to reality. I write about God and about strength so that if I am having an off day I can re-read about the things that kept me strong and focused that day.
It isn't easy to write this out. I'm hesitant to put this out there for fear that people will judge me or look at me different or think I'm broken. I'm still Ana, just some days I may appear like I'm not. I want people who have anxiety and don't know what to do about it to know that they are not alone, and that what you are going through is manageable. Read a book, get some help, find new hobbies. Don't let it consume your life.