It's not easy and I've come to terms with the facts that this is who I am; and I can either fight this feeling alone or talk about it in hopes that I can raise awareness. I don't remember my life before anxiety, but I do dream how it must have been. Being a seven year old child afraid of almost everything, was my life. I was afraid I was crazy or that I was dying and somehow it must have been my fault, that I deserved this. How it began or why, are a questions that I have realize will never be answered and finally I can say I'm okay with that. But what I am not okay with is how people react to those who suffer from a mental illness. I suffered for such a long time, doctors told me I was a hypochondriac and that I was seeking attention from my mother because somehow she wasn't giving me enough; utter bullshit and even then I knew that wasn't the case. But because it was the early 90s, information about anxiety disorders and how a child at my age could even have it, was never a possibility.
For years I would suffer with stress, uncontrollable crying, insomnia and even hallucinations due to my lack of sleep. And yet, I was still a normal kid trying to figure myself out. I went to high school, kept up my grades, played sports and a musical instrument, anything to take my mind off what was really going on. There were unfortunately too many times when I felt burdensome on my mother because she too did not understand what was going on with me, no one did and it created a strain on my relationship with her. I remember a time when she stood up with me all night even though she was extremely exhausted just to make sure I could sleep. It broke my heart, made me so angry with myself, but it was the main reason why I decided to do research myself.
Before I finish , if you are planning on doing your own research, do not believe everything you see, if you can, you should try and see a doctor. What I did was the only possible way for me and it took years before actually getting a diagnosis from a certified doctor.
I was on an emotional roller-coaster trying to figure out what was wrong and the information I was looking up was tedious, frightening and downright nonsensical, from brain tumors to the devil being inside of me. There were days when I wanted to give up and just stop bothering my family and friends. And I would be lying if I didn't say that death wasn't ever a thought, because it was. It engulfed my mind so much that it scared me but I knew deep down inside that even though things were dark and lonely, that life was still beautiful. That's what saved me, seeing the beauty in my family, friends, in nature and even in myself. I can't explain what it was that stop my anxiety disorder for a while but it went away for a few months and I was free.
Of course to my unfortunate surprise, it would come back but I was ready. I felt that I was smarter and I knew what I could do to keep myself from having an attack. And then it hit me harder. During my final year in high school into my first year of college. I was more stressed, embarrassed and afraid people would think I was crazy. So I decide enough was enough and my fear of being on medications would have to just sit on the back burner. I went to the doctor and I told her what was going on to me, and how I did my own research just so I wouldn't seem uninformed. She asked me a series of questions and for how long was I dealing with my symptoms and poof after a few hours, just like that, she said "You have generalized anxiety disorder."
I finally had a name for my illness.
I have been living with my anxiety disorder for almost fourteen years, through the ups and downs, it has always been there. For some people the disorders can disappear and never come back, but I am not those people and that is something I am learning to deal with. Wanting to help others who might be dealing with the same disorder as me is what helps me. Talking about my anxiety makes me feel exposed to the world but it also empowers me within and gives me the strength to be comfortable with who I am.
There are certain rituals that I do to help ease my mind when I feel an attack coming along. The first thing is I usually breathe it out. Sounds simple but I'm still having difficulty with actually trying to figure out how the breathing is suppose to help. I think if you add music to your breathing it makes the process more simple. For about 20 minutes I breathe in 10 seconds and out 10 seconds, using affirmations to attract positive thoughts. Drinking tea and having a small snack also helps ease my mind. I like Chamomile or Earl Grey tea with honey/sugar, 2% milk and a snack bar. I also write down what I am feeling in my moleskin so that it doesn't stay in my thoughts and I can try and make sense of why I am feeling the way I am. Reading what I am passionate about also helps because it reminds me what is truly important to me, photography. Curling up to a good book helps alleviate stress and diverts my mind to learning more about photography. And when worse comes to worse, I have my family and friends who are so supportive and caring. Having anxiety is a curse and yet it's also a blessing; it has taught me to be less judgmental, kinder to others and more open minded about life. Until then,