Feeling Anxious?

My story with anxiety

Do you frequently worry?

Are you unable to relax or turn off your mind?

Do worries keep you up at night and stop you from enjoying things?

Yeah, me too. I feel you.

These can all be potential signs of anxiety.

Everyone gets anxious, but sometimes anxiety can become a problem. It can be hard to know how to cope with these thoughts and feelings and where to get help.

I never talked openly about what I felt inside. All the anger, fear, and pain.

I have always been a worrier. Now, at the age of thirty-three, I can look back on my childhood and recognize the signs of anxiety developing.

I remember being in fourth grade and having what I would call, my first panic attack at school. We were all in the front of the class, presenting our individual projects. When it was my turn, I froze and panicked. The next thing I remember, I was running down the hallway. That’s when I broke down. I was confused, embarrassed, and scared. My teacher came out, found me and told me that my behavior was unacceptable and that she would be talking to my parents about it. I never talked openly about what I felt inside. All the anger, fear, and pain. I always worried that people would react the way that teacher did. This led me to keep it all in.

My stressful ways developed into anxiety around my senior year of graduating college. I lost touch with my childhood best friend, only keeping one to two friends around. Some point shortly after that, I went into a reckless phase, developing friendships with people who I was better off away from. When I decided it was time to leave this phase, and all the people involved in it behind, I was left virtually friendless.

I put all my physical energy into working full time, all while trying to obtain my Bachelor’s Degree. This meant working seven days a week, and completing school assignments after finishing 12 hour shifts. You may ask “why did I put myself through this”? Well, I had a passion to travel, as well as a partner at the time who I couldn’t bare seeing the world without. At the time, he wasn’t in the position to pay for himself, so I took on the financial burden for the both of us, as he refused for me to go on these trips alone. Time had tested our relationship, over and over again. Us taking this trip brought hope and some sort of refreshing, new feeling to us. We traveled through six countries in the span of four months, leaving behind this old self, hoping to find new meaning in the unknown roads of South East Asia.

Once we returned from this life changing trip, when I would meet new people, one of the first things they mentioned to me was the trips my partner and I had been on. Yes, we had been especially fortunate to travel around the world, but what most people didn’t understand was that travel was my escape. It gave me something to look forward to, and something to get me through the long days of being miserable in my life with work, my relationships. Whether it be with my partner, my family or friends, I was longing for something more. It was clear that I wasn’t happy. Regardless of my fear of planes, when I took off, this meant I could escape the life I was so disappointed with for a short period of time.

In order to work these extreme hours, I gave up every aspect of my social life and wellbeing. This meant I had a very small group of people I interacted with, none of whom were females. I ate terribly and never exercised, resulting in weight gain, as I was simply too exhausted to cook or go to the gym after work. Every cent of my paycheck went into paying for two people to go on trips, so I was never able to indulge in anything in my day to day life.

This pattern kept up for well over two years, from which I developed horrific social anxiety.

My experience of dealing with social anxiety is a feeling of overwhelming fear when interacting with individuals I wasn’t comfortable with. I was unable to look people in the eye when speaking to them, and struggled to keep a conversation going. I came off as both extremely quiet and shy, as well as rude, which anyone who knows me well knows I am the opposite of.

During this period of my life my self-confidence was at an all-time low, and I felt disgusted every time I looked in the mirror. I stayed away from people as much as I could, and felt I made an embarrassment of myself whenever I went out in public. I constantly had a voice in my head saying “Why would anyone want to be friends with you? You are pathetic.”

Things turned around when I ended things with my partner, addressed my work hours and even had hard conversations with family members. This meant, for the first time in a long time, I no longer held the financial burden for two people. I was able to spend money on things which seem so trivial to some, but play a huge role in my self-confidence, such as getting my nails done and buying some new things. As I sit here and write this testimonial, I’m happy to say that things have improved tremendously.

Would I say my life is perfect and I am happy every day? No. But do I still have that feeling that I am dying on the inside? Not in the slightest.

Everyone gets anxious, but sometimes anxiety can become a problem. It can be hard to know how to cope with these thoughts and feelings and where to get help.

I made some changes, both small and big, which made such a huge impact on my life. Ending a relationship that wasn’t for me, regularly going to the gym, pushing myself to interact socially whenever I was given the opportunity, these were things that filled my cup that I was ignoring for so long. I still struggle in social situations, but nowhere near to the extent in which I did. Most importantly, I have a partner now who I can express myself to freely, and through all the anxiety attacks and sleepless, crying nights, he finds a way to love me unconditionally.

I’m so happy with my life right now! I’m home with myself. I’m stronger and happier with the changes I’m making and I’m going to keep watering myself so that I keep growing.

You don’t have to know what comes next. The truth of the matter is, no one knows what’s coming next. You don’t have to have everything figured out right this second. News flash, you’ll never have everything figured out. You don’t need to know your entire story, and that’s OK. You are living, changing, growing, soul riding through your unique and beautiful journey of life.

I understand my story may be nothing compared to what some people face, but if even one person relates, this entire piece was worth writing.

I would like to end this with “things will get better” but, I don’t know that for certain. At the end of the day, all you can do is try. Just take it one day at a time.

Need help managing your anxiety, contact us to connect with a Lotus Theory therapist.

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