Dealing With That Pesky Black Cloud
Raise your hand if you're struggling with anxiety right now. If you either, for real or just in your mind raised your hand, I'm right there with you. For the longest time I didn't really understand what was going on. I had a lot of OCD tendencies, like making sure that my body felt equal on both sides before I was able to fall asleep, even if that meant 20 minutes of stretching and contracting my muscles until each side felt the same. The smallest things stressed me out, like chewing with your mouth open and people popping their gum. Coughing in class. Now I know that a lot of people don't like those things either, and that's pretty common, but I didn't understand that when I was in high school.
Looking back to elementary and middle school, I remember nights where I would just cry and cry about homework. I thought it was just because I didn't like school. Looking back, I recognize that I had anxiety about those things. I didn't want to look like a failure. I didn't want to get bad grades. I didn't want others to think I was stupid. So many of these issues stemmed (and still do) from self-confidence issues. Why did it come so easily to all of my friends? Am I really that dumb? It just continued to spiral from there.
And once I recognized what it was? It got 10x worse. The summer before my sophomore year in college, my previous boyfriend and I had just broken up, and that was a really hard time for me. That's when I really recognized what was going on. I was transferring schools and my whole life was turned upside down. Sophomore year of college, I had my first anxiety attack. That was a very scary moment. For those of you lucky enough to never have experienced an anxiety attack, I will explain to you what mine felt like, but it can be very different for everyone.
I don't remember what I was doing at the time, but I was in my dorm room and all of the sudden my chest got tight and heavy. I couldn't breathe. I started crying. I had no idea what to do. I just remember standing beside my lofted bed and leaning backwards trying to get my chest to open up. All I could think about was trying to take deep breaths so I could just breathe. I was hyperventilating. That first time lasted about three or four minutes, and for someone going through their first anxiety attack, that felt like eternity. My roommate was there and just reminded me to breathe and that it would all be alright, it was like she just understood. I am so thankful for her being there in that moment.
Afterwards, I just stood there. What just happened? And why? That entire school year was really hard for me. I started going to counseling at school and started piecing out what was going on, and all of the tings that have happened in my past that have lead up to that. I'll spare you all of the details, but my childhood was hard. Not because I didn't have a loving family, or that we didn't have a place to live or didn't have enough food to eat, but my family was "broken" My parents divorced when I was four. My dad went through his second divorce when I was eight. My family had many unfortunate deaths. Simply said, there has been a lot of heartbreak. And I blamed a lot of people for all of that. I've blamed my parents, and God. Especially God, how could he be letting all of this happen?
Middle school was an especially hard time for me, because all of those problems stated above had caught up to me. I rebelled. I stopped wanting to go to church. I did a lot of really stupid things. One in particular that I still to this day think about more often than I should. But my family supported me no matter what, and they loved me no matter what. So why didn't that fix me? But as I got older, I realized I didn't need to be fixed. While my anxiety kept getting worse, I started realizing what is most important in life. If you struggle with anxiety, a lot of times you have to focus on everything that is going right because otherwise you will just replay everything that is wrong, and could go wrong in your head.
Junior year I decided to talk to my doctor about potentially getting on some type of anxiety medicine, but I was even terrified to do that. At 20 years old, I made my mom go to the doctor with me just so I had someone with me when I talked to him about it. Just the thought about that made me stressed out. I didn't want to become addicted to this medication, I didn't want to have to take that just to feel normal. But I went ahead and did it anyways. What a difference it has made. And while it has helped me so much, my anxiety keeps getting worse. But that doesn't keep me from trying to stay positive. I can't rely on others to create positivity in my life, I have to learn how to do it for myself.
Sometimes anxiety is crippling, it makes you terrified to start your day; making you believe that if you just stay in bed nothing bad can't happen. But that isn't how life works. We have to continue our days, with or without anxiety. We have to believe in ourselves, and that we are strong enough to make it through our days. We have to believe that we are not alone, YOU are NOT alone. Please remember that. That is something that helps me get through my day.
It is helpful that there is less of a stigma attached to mental health, it is more common to talk about and people are more honest and open about it. But there are still so many people that are afraid to talk about it, and that makes my heart hurt. But the more that we talk about it, the more people will be willing to talk about their experiences. Logic just came out with a song about anxiety, called Anziety. I'll attach a link for you, but I will end this rant with some lyrics from the song.
And together we will overcome this feeling
We will remember despite the attacks and constant feeling of our mind and body being on the edge
That we are alive
And any moments we have free of this feeling we will not take for granted
We will rejoice in this gift that is life
We will rejoice in this day that we have been given
We will accept our anxiety and strive for the betterment of ourselves
Starting with mental health
We will accept ourselves as we are
And we will be happy with the person we see in the mirror
We will accept ourselves
And live with anxiety
Hi there! I'm Kelli and this blog is about my life with anxiety, and how I am learning to cope. Looking to God is the only way that I stay sane (well with some help from my family, pets, and boyfriend). My goal is to attempt to be a silver lining for all, myself included.