It’s almost 11pm and surprise surprise, I have no clue what I want to write about tonight. I’ve been trying to figuring this out since about 4 o’clock this afternoon, and yet I am unsuccessful. I think I’m going to have an open discussion about anxiety and my experience with such but I’m really not sure so I’m just going to start writing and see where this goes.
When I was younger, probably 13 or 14, I used to look back on my childhood and assume shyness was a characteristic of my personality. But now that I’ve grown into myself a bit more, I see that it was so much more than that. I was the shy/quiet kid. I had to talk to the school therapist in 4th grade because I would not talk in class. I hated talking to people I didn’t know, I hated talking in front of a group of people, I hated talking to adults, I hated raising my hand, I could literally go on for hours. And it wasn’t just me being shy, it was a legitimate fear I had, that took me a long time to push through that. However, before that happened I quickly became more anxious than most people would think possible.
When I was in high school, I had my first panic attack, and it was genuinely terrifying. After struggling through 8th grade and high school, I understood what it meant to feel anxious and I knew that it was more than feeling nervous. I started to recognize triggers, or what caused me to feel more nervous than the average person.
Anxiety comes in a lot of different forms based on the person, but for me feeling anxious was a crushing feeling. I felt like I had 50 lbs weighing down my chest. I was afraid of the most ridiculous things. I was tired all the time, I was irritable, I couldn’t sleep. And this would all happen on a daily basis. I also have dealt with panic attacks, as I said above. And again, everybody experiences panic attacks differently. When I was feeling overwhelmed by anxiety, or something specific triggered a panic attack, I’d start hyperventilating.
When I was in high school, it seemed like anything could bring on an episode of panic, driving with someone I wasn’t used to, talking to someone I didn’t know, giving a presentation in front of a class, stress, homework, hanging out with friends, this list was more or less endless. But it was really debilitating.
I still deal with anxiety now, but I can’t even remember the last time I had a full blown panic attack. Now, going back to being a shy person- today, I genuinely do not see myself as shy. I’m introverted, yes but the two are not synonymous. I enjoy talking to people, I enjoy getting to know people, I enjoy meeting new people. I’ve grown a lot since high school. College has put me in positions which required me to overcome my fears, whatever they were to make friends, to succeed, to become a better person. I know the difference between challenging myself and pushing myself too hard, which I think is difficult to distinguish when you don’t have experience in dealing with your own anxiousness.
High school is interesting to look back on because my anxiety has evolved with me. It maintains to be a fluid thing that does not stand still. Something I deal with now as a part of anxiety is sensory overload, which is basically when the stimulants around you, no matter how small, become overwhelmingly apparent. When I’m dealing with this, I can hear everything too clearly and loud to the point where it’s painful. I can feel the presence of my clothes on my body, something most people are not apparently aware of. And now, the most prevalent triggers that bring on a bout of anxiety are calling people I don’t know on the phone, and honestly, existential crises… I know, I know, I’m ridiculous.
So why am I talking about this, a topic I usually wouldn’t bring up unless someone directly asks me about it? To open a discussion about mental health. Anxiety is just the way in which I am discussing it. There is such a stigma around mental health and those dealing with it and it’s not going to change unless we talk about it. I’m going to leave this here, but I think I may write another post in the future more specifically about the stigma and how to help people who may be dealing with mental health issues. You can also ask me basically any question about this and I’ll answer. You don’t even have to have a good reason to be asking, you could just be curious and I’d still answer. So feel free..
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