Throwback

This is a post I wrote around a year ago for my high school blog. I was looking back on it and want to share…

Anxiety. It is one word. One tiny little seven letter word. But somehow, it manages to take complete control over me. Anxiety is defined as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease. For me it is a lot more complicated. It’s also not typically something that is easy for me to open up about, as it has such a large stigma attached to it. Which makes it so much harder to live with.

Anxiety has always been a part of my life. In fact, when I was born I was in the NICU for 16 days. Although the first day it was because of my health, my stay was prolonged because anytime another baby around me had a problem or their alarm went off, I would react. As illogical as it may seem, anxiety can be more than simply a feeling of fear. For many people, they have very real physical reactions. For me my reaction can be just a feeling of sadness or misplacement, but many times it is accompanies by physical reaction. My heartrate spikes, and I sometime have difficulty breathing. In addition to those lovely responses food becomes my enemy. Even the mention of eating and I will turn so pale, you may as well call me Casper.

As a senior in high school, there are so many things that are can be exciting. It is an adventure into your future. For the first time, you have complete control in what you want to do. The decisions you make are all yours. Although many days, these are simply exciting for me, sometimes

along the way my anxiety kicks in.

Being a 17-year-old, crying in class is one of the most embarrassing things. So of course, on Friday, my anxiety decided to strike right as I was about to walk into school. A nervous thought about my family and my future popped into my head, and unlike someone without anxiety, it was hard for me to just redirect my attention.

One of the hardest parts about anxiety for me is that it seems although you have two completely different thought processes. On one hand I can see that it is irrational for me to become so upset and scared that I literally cannot stop crying as I’m sitting in class. But on the other hand, there is some part of me that completely registers this thought as a fear, as something so real that it needs my full focus.

It may seem like I just completely embarrassed myself, crying at school in the first place, and sharing this now. But this is why. Having these thoughts are hard enough, never mind having to simultaneously freak out about what people are thinking about you or what they would say if they found out that you have anxiety and unfortunately this is a pretty common part of your life. The stigma around mental health is so detrimental, and the only way to overcome it is by speaking up. I have an anxiety disorder, but it doesn’t define me. It allows me to see how many people in my life truly care, and support me.

The Stigma

Anxiety sucks. Depression suck. And so does the stigma.

You hear people constantly talk about how we need to break the stigma, and how it’s our generation that will make the difference. However, I’m sometimes just as guilty in hiding my disease.

It’s hard to talk about mental health issues, especially when it comes to suicide. If someone asks how I’m doing, I’m often very quick to say, “Oh, I’m fine.” Or even if I am willing to open up, I’m much more likely to talk about my anxiety.

For some reason it is easier to confess to suffering from anxiety. Maybe, because on some level everybody has experienced it to some degree. Probably not to the same point, as to when it impairs your ability to function. But in my mind at least, I imagine everyone having a moment of anxiety.

But depression is a completely different evil. Everyone feels sad sometimes, and most people believe that that is all depression is. However, I think you have to experience it to truly understand. The complete and total feeling of emptiness, of hopelessness, of worthlessness.

There was this article on huffpost. (https://www.google.com/amp/m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_598cd864e4b090964295eef3/amp) It was an artists interpretation of her depression. I viewed the photos and was completely overtaken by them. So many of them I could relate to on such a deep level. When I showed it to my friend she was perplexed. She said they were good, but she wasn’t nearly as affected.

It was at that moment that I was happy for her. She had no idea how true those photos could ring. She wasn’t able to relate, or even understand their depths. While when I viewed them, I saw so many different aspects of my everyday struggle with depression.

I was able to see the facade you have to put on for others, and sometimes even yourself. I interpreted the drawings as showing the physical aching and pain that you endure. I pictured how suddenly you can feel although your entire being just shattered, or how at some points you are just so confused and paralyzed with fear.

Suicide is the most difficult of all aspects for me to open up about. If I am to be completely honest, I am almost always suicidal. Having the desire to live is very rare for me. When people hear this, it is scary. Which I completely understand. But it’s important to see the different degrees of suicidal thinking. There is a difference between not wanting to live and having a plan. Furthermore there is a difference between having a plan and having the means the carry out your plan.

At points in my depression I have come to points where I have a plan. I have imagined the different ways I could end my life. But ultimately I’ve always been able to reach out for help when I reach such a critical point.

Its important to listen to people and be understanding rather than judgmental if they do open up to you about their illness. However, sometime I think that we put to much pressure on people to open up. There is definitely an importance in “breaking the stigma”. But if someone is going to be triggered or uncomfortable sharing their story, don’t push them.

That’s why this blog is anonymous right now. At some point I hope to be able to share this with friends and family. But for now being an anonymous voice is the best that I can do. I want to share my story, and help to break the stigma. Even though a face behind it may make it more powerful, it also makes it that much more real for me. That much more to face. On top of that, I would than have to worry about the reactions of those close to me. Which is more anxiety.