Everything on the outside seems ok...You have even tried to convince yourself that it is all good... But it's not. Living with chronic mental illness ( a term I have only recently accepted ) often feels like you are waiting for the other shoe to drop. Overtime, my battle with anxiety has become a big part of my life. Every day, I felt like I was drowning in fear and sorrow, but paddling to stay afloat. It started to feel "normal". However, in due time, I realized that there was more to it than mere feelings of nervousness.
I started experiencing the dread, not wanting to go out for fear of a panic attack; the upset stomach, dry throat, and flutters of the heart. These signs became the familiar. I felt like no one would understand me. Darkness was certainly a foe than a friend for me. When people laid their heads down to rest, I would lie awake, wondering what the next day would be like. I was trying to regain control but battling to live a normal life as all I knew. It started to consume me more each day. Eventually, it pushed me into medication. I found comfort in those pills and didn't realize I was getting addicted to them. Xanax became my friend. Anxiety tires the mind and your body add this to all the excess adrenalin and you have some pretty weird symptoms. Due to the adrenalin overload, I was too stressed to eat so I started losing weight fast.
I was at loss of how to get my life back and live like any other normal individual. Everything around me seemed to tire up some feelings of fear. I did not have confidence in my ability to function properly. There is nothing I wanted more than to be an independent, carefree person. I was exhausted, putting up a fight every single day was a task in itself. I was sick and tired of being sick, almost to a point of depression. The saddest part of the story is that I only decided to get help after anxiety had already taken over my life. By then I had already pushed everyone that cared about me away. I was in denial.
Fighting To Survive
Slowly but surely, anxiety became more than a panic plaguing me. It was an encompassing sadness that had attached to me like a shadow. I felt sorry for myself, cried and couldn't concentrate.The first step to recognizing the persisting sadness is when a loved one told me that I needed to get my myself back. No more excuses. I started to read about the biology of my condition to help me understand what I was really going through. The next step was to accept 100% what was happening to me and take care of myself. I thought " I am better than this. I can handle this shit".I let go of my pride, ego, and shame and accepted that I needed help. I found a really good psychologist and immediately booked an appointment. However, I must admit that it took a while to get to that first session. The thought of being vulnerable to a stranger scared me. I was even more afraid to discuss the nemesis that anxiety had been.
When I finally got to my first appointment, I faced my fear head on and confided in my therapist. Even so, by talking about my panic attacks, I felt like I was re-living them all over again. Therapy was definitely a tipping point for me.
I realized that I needed to stop letting my anxiety get the best of my life. I also needed to quit the happy pills. While there are those who are mentally and emotionally strong to overcome the illness themselves, a majority of us need help and guidance. We need to feel like we are not alone. Despite the setback, I am still working with my therapist to recoup my strength and take total charge of my life once again. I'm keeping busy, which has helped me a lot and have started eating right again. Anxiety is highly treatable with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which helps you identify, analyze/challenge, and replace the countless distorted thoughts that produce anxiety. You see until recently I was fighting it which ultimately made it worse. Fighting the nervousness, the negative thoughts, the fear. You have to let it " flow through you". Strive to be happy with the person you are becoming, not the person you are today.
Therapy does not guarantee that I will never have an anxiety attack again but it is certainly a step in the right direction. Sometimes, I am horrified of facing a new day. But like I have come to learn, what does not kill us makes us stronger. Just know that if you are experiencing this, you are not alone. It's actually more common than you think. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day. It will take some time but things will only get better as long as you don't give up.