Most people wake up in the morning, dreading the day ahead for reasons such as working, school or just getting out of bed. Today, I woke up and I thought about whether or not I wanted to fight with the anxiety today or if I was just going to cave in and take that pill. The pill that makes the feeling of dying go away, but also sacrifices everything that makes me who I am. Try giving up the bubbly personality, the loud good morning greetings with a shiny smile to match it and the motivation to do much of anything and there is a reason for this decision every day.
Imagine your deepest darkest fear, the one that you do not dare say aloud in fear that just the words leaving your lips could cause the worst nightmares imaginable. Do you have one? I suffer from General Anxiety Disorder and Hypochondriasis, so essentially I have a fear of living and one of dying. Living in a world full of judgement, failure, danger and uncertainty, but in a world that I have grown attached to many things and people that could be taken from me in the blink of an eye.
Thanks to countless organizations and the outspoken crowds of people who also suffer from mental health disorders, speaking out about what it’s like in the day of me seems like less of a burden to those around me. Now talking about anxiety is more of a reason for the kids who are growing up as I did to feel like they are not alone anymore.
My first anxiety attack happened in the middle of the night while I was 7 years old, I woke up in a cold sweat and I was sure death was upon me. I could not catch my breath like air had been squeezed out of my lungs and someone had been holding my lungs in a tight fist. All I could do was take short panicked breaths praying that they were enough to signal my sleeping parents in the other room. When the light came on and my mother with fear in her eyes looked at me, I could only feel my lungs grasp tighter, if she was worried then I should be too. The trembling moved from just my hands to my entire body like one large convulsion, as if this was the last breaths I would take.
After what felt like eternity of complete darkness, I had awoken in a chair wrapped in a warm blanket in the emergency room. Now, the doctors are attempting to explain to me, a seven-year-old child, what “anxiety” was and why I felt the way I did. No, it was not contagious and I was not dying, it was my brain telling me to panic about what I could only imagine to be something that happened that day at recess. I mean, what else does a seven-year-old have to panic about anyways?
Now, 17 years later, my anxiety has started from once a year to all day every day and gone from children at recess fears, to the fear of the day.
Waking up every day reminding myself it is okay, that it’s just my anxiety and I do not have cancer or that pain in my eye is not a tumor or that my roommate didn’t say good morning because she hates me rather she hates mornings, and that’s all before getting out of bed. Getting out of bed is a battle all its own, that I have to get up and get out because if I don’t then anxiety wins and I don’t want to give it that kind of power.
Let’s stop for a second, you need to know that this isn’t all coping and self-control because it’s unrealistic to lie and say I’ve never needed medication to help me cope.
Xanax, the little white pill that takes all the worries of an anxiety-ridden person away, however, that is not what it is so popularly known for anymore. Thanks to the countless irresponsible teenagers, Xanax has now become a street drug that is used to get a high for that raging party down the street and it’s easier to get from your dealer than the pharmacist.
For someone with anxiety, Xanax feels like shutting off the receptors in your brain that tell you to panic and to my best description, they turn you into a shell of the human you are. On the outside, people see the same person they know and love but inside, everything has been shut down to cope with the endless thoughts of living and dying.
That smile on my face when I say good morning is one of the hardest choices I make in the day. That smile says that I did not give into the pressures of anxiety and that even though the thoughts of it are on a constant loop in my brain they do not take over and change who I am as a person. Now, I am by no means saying that this is attainable overnight but I am saying that it is possible if you try so hard, the highs and lows of anxiety are far from even but with time, they are bearable.
If there is one thing I could share to those who suffer as I do, it is simply that “IT IS OKAY!” It is a battle that I promise you, only becomes easier when you let your loved ones in, and you talk openly about the struggles of day to day life. I have come a long way from where I was to where I am and it has been the most strenuous ride of my life. Now, I see anxiety not as a daily burden but as something that has shaped me to be the person I am today. If I told you that your story could save someone’s life one day,
how loud would you tell it?
If you are experiencing anxiety and are in need of crisis support, please call the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.