What is life like without anxiety? This is a question I ask myself all the time. My normal cannot be normal.
Constant racing thoughts keep me awake at night, keep me staying home avoiding people, and keep me from opening up to others.
Racing thoughts that never seem to end, that constantly come back to me no matter how hard I try.
Thoughts about all the possible ways my family could potentially die and leave me alone in this world on my own.
Thoughts about intruders coming in while we are sleeping and kidnapping my daughter lead me to block all entrances with traps every single night to ensure we are safe. But then, I still think of all the ways those traps could fail.
Thoughts about how I won’t even hear those intruders because we have a loud fan on to help us be cool to sleep at night. With all these thoughts and now the noise from the fan, I lay awake regardless of my attempts to keep us safe.
Racing thoughts on how I am not good enough, or pretty enough, so therefore my opinions are not validated if I were to speak up in class, at work, at church, or even in a group of friends.
I replay my conversations with others over and over again over the next couple of days and analyze where I messed up and what I could have said better.
These thoughts haunt me throughout the day, and they never stop. That is not normal.
Looking back I can see that I have struggled with anxiety my entire life. From when I was in elementary school and had to share in show and tell, to giving talks in church, to presentations in high school and college.
I was so excited that I got a B my final semester in high school, just so I did not get a 4.0 so I did not have to speak in front of hundreds of people at graduation.
My life would start to include friends, but once it became a larger group, I would get so scared to even talk to my friends. I would hide and avoid people just so I did not have to think of what to say.
My mind goes blank in front of crowds and people I do not know. I have to have my presentations, speeches, and talks all written out word for word or else I forget what to say.
In my head, I over analyze every conversation and scenario thousands of times before and after it happens.
When traveling we have to arrive at the airport 3-4 hours earlier just to make sure we will not miss the flight. I am so anxious the entire time going through TSA that I am sure I look like a criminal to the security guards like I am hiding something, when in fact I’ve tripled check their guidelines for every single item in my bag.
What is life like without anxiety?
Church is also a struggle. Even if I think of something to share, I cannot get myself to open my mouth in fear that I will say the wrong words and juggle up the sentence. Even reading a scripture or saying a prayer is so nerve-wracking to me.
It even got to the point in high school where I was so anxious I would strike out all the time, and overthrow like I was a bad player even though I spent 11 years of my life dedicated to the sport.
In high school, I would only wear dark tops so no one would see me sweat when I got anxious. My outfits all had to coordinate with a black or navy sweater or top just to be sure. That is why navy became my favorite color, to avoid embarrassment for sweating.
During college, I finally had the courage to go see a therapist. It was a huge struggle to open the door, walk in, and just make the appointment. I thought about bailing and skipping the actual appointment so many times. However, somehow, I made it to the therapist.
I poured out my feelings to her, which was the first time I really did to anyone. It was like an instant lift from the burdens off my shoulders.
After that first meeting, I shared my feelings about being anxious with my boyfriend at the time, now husband. Again, huge relief and felt a little better like I could become normal one day.
I realized I always hide behind being anxious. I would say I was shy instead of telling the real story. Sure, shyness becomes a part of being anxious, but it was so much more than being shy. I am truly a crazy person without the anxiety.
I went a couple more times with the therapist and then stopped. During my psychology classes I learned more about how to control and deal with anxiety. I was at a good point in my life. It became manageable I would say.
Then, I had a miscarriage. 6 months later, I got pregnant again. My anxiety was out of control once again. Having the miscarriage threw me off. Constant thoughts kept coming back that kept me up at night.
I would constantly worry if I would have another miscarriage or if my baby were alright. This worry has not left me. When my baby was born, it turned into postpartum anxiety, with constant worry something will happen to my baby.
Being pregnant a third time and dealing with postpartum anxiety on top of my regular anxiety has been really intense and a huge struggle.
However, the tipping point was when all this was happening, and I was woken up one day by a big earthquake. Since that day, my anxiety has been at an all time high.
Things got really bad, to say the least, since that day. Even months later, the effects have not left me. They have eased a little, but not much.
I deal with anxiety every single minute of every day. It does not leave me. I try to control it and I do my best, but I still have anxiety. I wonder if my life will ever be rid of anxiety.
Some days are easier than others, but deep down, I just want to know what is life like without anxiety?
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