In a World of the 21st Century where war still breaks out, pandemics take hold of the population, and social expectations are still needed to be met, there is not a single doubt that every single one of us has had anxious feelings in the past. Yet, how do we differentiate anxiety from feeling anxious?
Now before we go in deep into the crevices of our feelings, you should be advised that I am no mental health professional and although the words posted may be helpful to some, additional assistance should be sought if needed. As the mantra of our blog page states, this is a safe space. A space in which I’ve decided to share my deepest thoughts in hopes of enlightening others to find liberation from their everyday downsides.
We’ve all heard it before, growing up with a single mother isn’t easy. In my case my mom worked 20 hours a day and I spent my childhood years enrolled in every single extra curricular activity you could think of. My biological father wasn’t really in the picture, and if he was it wasn’t for any good. My mother on the other hand did very well. I had a beautiful childhood thanks to her, even when times would get tough we were able to push through. My anxiety began at an early age, it was when I heard the fighting of my divorced parents or the cries from my mothers bedroom that my eyes filled with tears, my chest became tight, and anything sitting on my body felt suffocating, including my hair. As a child I never really understood what those feelings meant, I thought it was part of feeling sad and that everyone felt the same discomfort when crying over something that may have gotten you upset.
As I grew into my teen years I soon began realizing that immense chest pain while crying was not normal. I remember researching my symptoms on Google, the internet tried convincing me into thinking I was suffering from a heart attack at the age of 14 but I knew that wasn’t right. After explaining my symptoms to my mother repeatedly and continuing to do some online research I came to the realization that I could possibly be experiencing anxiety attacks repeatedly. For some reason I felt ashamed, I didn’t want my friends to think of me any differently and with those thoughts draining my brain the attacks visited with more frequency.
My sophomore year of high school was eye opening. I still had all of those built up feelings in my system and the anxiety attacks weren’t getting any better, I had just gotten better at hiding them. I began realizing that a lot of my peers at school used the words ‘anxiety’ and ‘depression’ as everyday vocabulary when in my head they had become forbidden. I wondered if they too felt what I felt every time an inconvenience showed up in my way of life. Anything would make me go overboard, a simple confrontation with a teacher about a misplaced grade or a simple powerpoint presentation in class would make my stomach twist to the point where I would be short of breath.
As time passed by memes on the topic became more common, they made me uncomfortable. In my world such topics of conversation where not ones to laugh at. I wondered why my classmates felt comfortable with the topic and it wasn’t until I began seeing a professional that I understood why. In 2018, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I began taking pills to ease the pain and seeing a psychologist once a week. The pills didn’t work for me, it was the human contact with an individual that had an unbiased opinion on my life that helped me become comfortable with my diagnosis. After meeting with my psychologist for multiple sessions I was able to differentiate the memes posted on social media from my actual mental state. I finally understood that we all feel different, that although an exam may make one feel nervous and that person may classify that feeling as anxiety the chemical imbalance in my brain made that small exam the end of my world. Both feelings completely valid just one more worrisome than the other.
After my diagnosis back in 2018, the years after that have been focused on my mental health. I am not ashamed to say that I have anxiety, that word is no longer “forbidden”. I have found purpose and strength to better myself, for myself and my future. I have learned to release my feelings and not let them take a hold of my entire life. I try to find happiness in the little things, as little as a simple hello from your pet when you arrive home. Every night I look forward to cuddling in the couch with my dog Max, that little rascal sure does make the pain go away even if he chews on my shoes.
It is looking forward to the small things in life that have gotten me here, yes here, this simple blog post may seem little to some but to me it means a lot more. It helps me see my strengths and my bravery in hopes of helping you, reading my words, to better yourself. To validate your feelings even if they may not seem sociably acceptable, because at the end of the day all there is to do is smile. Smile at the little things that will make your day ten times better.