Can we talk about anxiety for a second? By second, I mean the length of time it takes you to read this post lol. Anxiety is something I have dealt with for most of my life. My first memory of it dates all the way back to 1st grade. I entered the building for the first day of school and FREAKED out. Why I freaked out is beyond me. Going to kindergarten and preschool was easy peasy. Yet here I was breaking down so badly that I puked my guts out. Right there on the classroom floor. Puke-a-roo. Quite the way to make an impression for myself don’t ya think? This ritual continued for about a week. My anxiety pukes became business as usual. So much so that my teacher put a garbage can next to my desk. Likely to give the janitor a break from cleaning daily floor vomit. Yes ladies and gentleman, I was that girl. To this day I do not know why I would go into a complete fight or flight mode when I walked into that room, but eventually I worked through it and enjoyed the rest of my elementary school days.
The next occurrence happened in 8th grade. Once again, it seemingly came out of nowhere. My middle school moved into a new building mid-year and all of a sudden, my anxiety made a return appearance. I would enter a state of panic that told me not to go to school. Not in that normal, I’m a pre-teen who ain’t feeling that classroom life kinda way, but in that omg I’m going to pass out, or die, or something awful is surely going to happen kinda way. I started making myself throw up so my parents would have a reason to keep me home. Puke is apparently a common theme of this blog. I even rubbed my mom’s lipsticks into my cheeks in hopes that I’d look red and ill to pull off the act. I probably just looked like bozo the clown honestly. Quickly my parents realized I wasn’t actually sick and forced me to go to school. I bet you are wondering if I was bullied. My parents were wondering the same thing. Was I being picked on? Was something bad happening? The answer is nope. Literally, nothing bad was happening. I had a great life and this paralyzing fear was a result of nothing more than my brain taking extra steps to scare the shit out of me.
As I’ve gotten older, the gamut of things that make me anxious has steadily grown, and my experiences with it have changed. I’ve learned that I am EXTREMELY sensitive to other people’s emotions. When I am around someone who is high strung, overly worried, or trying to be over protective of me, my anxiety shoots through the roof. It feels like I start to absorb their stressors and I become suffocated by it.
2017 was my first experience with a panic attack. I was driving to work and about to turn onto the highway. Suddenly, I felt this crazy sensation like I was going to pass out. I became light headed, my face became extremely hot, and my entire body began sweating. I spent the entire drive talking myself down and blasting the AC in my face. At the time, I was still extremely depressed and overwhelmed by my alopecia, and I was on anxiety overload because I was recovering from a pulmonary embolism. I continued to have panic attacks daily. They would strike whenever they pleased—driving, walking through the grocery store, at work, at dinner with friends, in the airport. The only time they didn’t happen was when I was in the comfort of my apartment.
I’ve always been open with my friends and family about having anxiety, but I’ve never really opened up about my panic attacks. I was so good at maintaining a smile on the outside while mentally losing it on the inside. Since starting this blog, my panic attacks have significantly decreased. I’m by no means “recovered”, but I’ve gotten to a much better mental state. I’ve come to terms with the fact that anxiety has been and always will be a part of me. Much like alopecia, learning to own it and cope with it is what has helped me the most. It doesn’t change the fact that it is a pain in the ass. It doesn’t change the fact that my brain is CONSTANTLY trying to scare me out of doing the smallest things—driving, leaving the house, applying for new jobs, etc. It doesn’t change the fact that every second of the day my brain is telling me “no you can’t do that” and I have to tell it “screw you, yes I can!” However, it does mean that no matter how hard anxiety tries to win, I still get to tell it, “not today brah, not today.”