You know that feeling when you miss a step as you walk down the stairs. How the air escapes your lungs and you stomach plummets. Now imagine feeling, that brief moment of panic, but every second of the day.
The only way I seem to be able to explain to my friends that my anxiety is not just nerves, that what I feel is real.
(I wrote this 2/11 but never got around to posting it. Usually I would just delete something like this but I felt like it was important to get out because I was in such a bad place that day and I feel like my raw emotion is in here.)
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to not be the way I am. Like tonight my sister came into my room to get my opinion on this oral presentation she is giving her class tomorrow. Granted she is 10 but I asked her if she was nervous and she looked at me like I was crazy. We are two extremes, she never gets nervous or feel self-conscious, while that’s all I ever do.
I’m only writing this to try and calm myself down. I’ve got this knot in my stomach and I feel like I can’t even breathe. I’m all tense and worried and I feel like the walls are literally closing in around my bed. What, you ask, made me feel this way? Thinking about having a shower.
My therapist says I shouldn’t call my emotions dumb, but how can I not call that dumb? I’m not afraid to have a shower, its everything else. Like what if I slip and fall and my parents have to rescue me naked or what if I stay in the shower to long and don’t have time to do my homework or what if my hair isn’t dry before I go to bed and I wake up tomorrow with crazy weird out of place hair.
And then I get thinking about tomorrow. Because what if I wake up late, or what if I have a panic attack in school. What if I can’t take the pressure anymore? It’s all ‘what ifs’ and they run my life. I can literally control every single thing I just wrote, but that is my logical brain speaking not the loose cannon brain.
And that’s why I wish I was someone else. I mean, if I could spend a whole day at school without tensing up and feeling faint I would be over the moon. Hell I would be over the moon if I didn’t come home from school almost in tears for once.
I’m on this journey now, trying to get better, but I feel like I’m running in a race and they keep moving the finish line further and further and sometimes I’d rather just give up. I keep on running though, something inside of myself tells me to keep going, but it is hard.
People don’t seem to understand how I could have a real mental health problem. Yes, they say, you are quiet, and yes, you don’t always look happy, but you don’t look crazy.
Crazy, as if only people with blood shot eyes and talk to themselves could have mental problems. It really hurts me that people truly think that. If I’m going to be honest though, I used to think that too.
Hollywood portrays people with mental illness as crazy, villainous, unwanted and expendable parts of society. Hell when I started to really develop my anxiety I told myself not to say anything because I didn’t want people to think I was insane.
And yes, I am kind of insane, because in the true definition of the world I am not sane. I really have a lot of problems that I need to work through to become a functioning member of society. That does not mean that I am a nuisance who can’t hold my life together.
I haven’t been shy about going to see a therapist, actually I’ve really embraced the whole thing. I do notice though that if I talk to people about it they seem horrified. I’ve had experiences where I have started talking to a friend about therapy and further down the table people have stopped and stared at me as if I was some kind of circus freak (which doesn’t really help the social anxiety).
But why is going to therapy bad? If you have the flu don’t you go to the doctor? Why can’t I go to a doctor for my illness?
I think that awareness needs to be brought to the topic of anxiety because I know that if I didn’t tell anyone how I was feeling there are others that are the same. It shouldn’t be that we are pushed into the dark and feel more alone than what we already feel. We should be allowed the same courtesy to get help.
When I was five years old I decided I wanted to go to Harvard. It’s kind of weird, that I, a kid just starting kindergarten, already was thinking about college. But then I thought about it a little, and realized that maybe it’s not.
From a very early age kids from my generation were given a plan of what was expected of them for the future. You are supposed to spend 12 years in school, trying to figure out what you want to do in college so when you go to college you will do well and then start your life and be successful. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a kid.
But wait there’s more. You need to figure out what you want to do, while battling new hormones racing through your body all the time and having all these new emotions about things that you cant explain. Don’t forget the competition of being ranked every day of your life.
Do you know how guilty I still feel about messing up my first quarter grades freshman year because my grandma died? I still wonder what would have happened if I could have just bucked up and gotten over it so my grades wouldn’t have suffered so much, maybe then I would have been in the top of my class instead of the top of the second quartile.
As a person who suffers with extreme anxiety and self loathing school really is hard for me. I have piled so much pressure onto myself at this point that if I don’t preform up to my standards I hate myself all day long. I get anxious for almost every test. I don’t sleep very well because I wonder what is going to happen tomorrow. And it all becomes too much.
I know that I am an extreme example of what teenagers face in high school, but when I look around at the 1000 kids that attend my school I’d say 95% of them have the same unnecessary pressure on them. It just shouldn’t be that way. If this continues what I am is going to become to norm for children and that is something I really don’t want. My sister, who is 10, already puts this pressure on herself that I have on me, and I tell her that her grades don’t matter and that she is smart but it doesn’t help.
We are breeding children with goals that cant even compare to what they are capable of. And that really sucks.