I have anxiety. It’s the weirdest thing because it isn’t like common anxiety where I’m extremely nervous or doubtful before something major happens. No. This anxiety comes from the most random things. For example, whenever I’m at a gas station and I see a huge truck (especially a tanker), I always experience a wave of anxiety thinking it’s going to explode and we all die.
Often times when I go running, especially if its uphill, a million thoughts begin racing through my mind, in an attempt to convince me of the many possible ways in which I’m about to fall over the cliff and die.
Imagine running, or any common activity you do, but not being able to do it with a clear head because scenes of death have literally blinded you. My anxiety pops up like YouTube ads you can’t seem to stop because it must play before your video starts. In other words, when anxiety hits, I no longer have control.
And this is just the anxiety that I can easily identity. But, maybe it’s not anxiety at all. Maybe, I’m just afraid of dying – because I fear that I’ve yet to fulfill my God-given purpose in life.
Other times, my anxiety is unpredictable. Crippling even. When I find myself people-ing a lot, I’m forced to sit in silence and with the lights off (often on my bedroom floor) just to clear my mind. People think I’m anti-social but really I have to take people in stride – for the sake of my sanity.
Just this week I caught myself mid-action, as I almost kicked an old man as he held on to my hand. In no way was I in danger, but as an instant response and fear of people touching me, I reacted. Sometimes the simple actions of others trigger me.
On the other hand, some of life’s experiences have forced me to train my body to avoid people altogether. Defense mechanism. Thus, whenever my brain realizes I’m socializing again, it becomes overwhelmed. Anxiety immediately kicks in.
But maybe it’s deeper than anxiety. Maybe, I’ve come to understand that my life’s purpose is bigger than me and since we can’t exist without relationships, I now have to live intentionally so that my purpose will positively impact my relationship with others. And so I have to take people-ing very seriously.
I have anxiety and maybe it comes as a result of having an over protective parent or an over active imagination, who knows. Maybe being a product of broken relationships – the ones I was born into, the ones that betrayed my trust or the ones that attempted multiple attacks on my innocence – maybe these are the contributing factors to my psychological state. Either way, I have anxiety, but I am finally ok with it.
I know, I know, you’re probably reading this with your judg-y voice.
However, my aim will never be to just post stuff that can impress my readers. Rather, my aim is to use my words to help others and to always remain transparent.
What’s the point of having a platform, if not to use it for good?
And so, my reason for writing this today – and pushing past my mini panic attacks of hitting the share button – is to let you know, yes you (who also suffer from something that you may not even be capable of putting a label on because you’re not quite sure what it is, or how you feel, but you just know that you’re not always yourself) that you’re not alone.
I’ve read that it’s a normal part of life to experience occasional anxiety. But what about when that feeling is persistent? Often times it hits you without any warning? Neither does it come with a manual for control. What do you do when life seems to be moving so quickly but at the same time it’s almost as though you’re having an out of body experience because you’re moving against time?
Well, as a psychology major I was taught that most anxiety disorders are highly treatable. Though I’ve never braved myself to try out Celexa, Prozac or any other Anxiety pills or antidepressants, nor do I consider myself a victim of anxiety disorders, I know that there are certain things I need to do to regain control of myself whenever anxiety tries to poke at me; things that not only serve as coping mechanisms for anxiety but rather for life.
And so, this post isn’t for persons who suffer with anxiety only. However, if like me, depression covers you at night like a blanket, or there are certain triggers that instantly cause you to burst into tears during an ordinary day, because you’re reminded of that time or that person that did something which left you with scars, then this post is for you too.
Maybe grief is your kryptonite. You dress yourself in smiles and laughs to brave the workday but conceal the pain of loss on the inside. Pain, that you’re not sure how to heal from, even though it’s been years. More so, you don’t understand why people say ‘time heals’ because it’s yet to help your wounds, then this post is for you too.
Perhaps, you’ve poured so much of yourself into the lives of others (especially those underserving) that you no longer recognize the person looking back at you in the mirror then this post is definitely for you too.
What I would like to say to all of you is this: Your diagnosis is not your destiny. Anxiety, Depression, and loss (of self and others) affect the best of us. The key is not let it define you. Rather, let love be the dosage that gets you through the pain.
Love yourself enough to get past it. Love yourself despite what you may go through. Love yourself because of what you go through. And love yourself without hating what you go through.
You see what I’ve learnt is that giving in to anxiety or whatever it is that is currently weighing you down also means giving into the myth that this is all you can and would be. I’ve chosen not to let these things (though they are part of) dictate my life, and neither should you.
I’d go a bit further to say, you cannot and should not condemn or hold yourself back from becoming who you were born to be just because you face challenges – especially the ones no one notices or are aware of. And in order to love who you are, you can’t hate the experiences that has shaped you either.
Like me, you too can choose to learn from your challenges and find a way for it to strengthen you. Personally, I have “my moments” every week – I’m getting better, it used to be every day – but I am no longer a prisoner of my anxiety.
Yes I often cry my eyes out, sit in darkness, count each breath as I talk myself through my mini attacks and most importantly I pray. But beyond that, I choose to acknowledge – instead of hide or ignore – these episodes and then I work twice as hard to not allow myself to feel that way again. I choose to love (and in so doing heal) myself through my anxiety.
Despite many things working in my favor, anxiety always makes me question whether I’m strong enough to execute the dreams that I’m so focused on pursuing and achieving. And maybe it affects you the same too. To that I say, welcome it, acknowledge it but also get over it.
Arming yourself with prayer can do what no amount of pills can cure. Creating a space void of negative thoughts aids your recovery time. And to be honest, sometimes a great, big, ugly cry is way healthier than keeping it all in. That’s how you get over it. At least it’s how I do.
Now, just because I’ve admitted what I go through doesn’t mean that my life is falling apart. In fact, my glow-up is quite real. However, don’t be mislead, anxiety doesn’t discriminate against the happy or successful. You see what I’ve learnt is that anxiety wears many masks. Even when everything is seemingly perfect, the “big A” still finds a way to pop up during your day. So, even if you may not be directly affected by anxiety, that person next to you, yes the one with the biggest smile (whom you fail to observe flinches when someone touches their hands) they too suffer from anxiety. And so it’s equally important to understand when and why all some people require is “a moment for myself.”
So no matter what it is you face – it’s different for everyone –what we can all do together is to grow from it.
Daily, I remind myself that though there was a time anxiety might have stopped me in my tracks and flipped me upside down for a minute before I could operate as the Kay everyone knows and love again, today will not be that day. And despite how the day ends, I repeat it the following morning.
Like your alarms and social media notifications, checking in with yourself, each new day, helps you to push past whatever it is that planned to keep you down.
This post isn’t to say that anxiety is a curse or that I’m different in any way. Neither is it a step-by-step guide on how to treat with your afflictions, because let’s be honest, we are all different and no one knows it all – definitely not me.
What I hope to highlight instead, is that everyone has his or her own battles to deal with. I’m sure you know by now that I’m more of a low-key type person, which probably defeats the purpose of exposing myself on this extra long post. But hey, writing honest stuff about myself heals me. And it is my hope, that after reading this, you become more aware of issues such as anxiety and begin your healing too.