I didn’t know that I had anxiety as a kid. I didn’t realize until I was a teenager in therapy that all those thoughts and managing possible scenarios in my mind was anxiety. I’d think about all the possibilities that could be thrown at me upon getting home from school, twirling practice, or from being outside playing with friends. I did the same as a teenager except the circumstances altered, slightly. Same thing with college. I would divide my life up into these categories: Living with Dad, Post-Dad Living with Grandmother and Post Grandmother/College and the anxiety I experienced in each category was different.
I’d like to note that due to dysfunction at home I took great pride in my academic life and it was my outlet. School didn’t give me anxiety. There were some tears, but they were tears of frustration. I learned so much about my learning style, strengths and weaknesses in school. Learning that about myself later helped me with how to learn in the corporate/professional world and how to ask questions when learning something and teaching others.
Post college life and that new phase of being an adult allowed me to experience anxieties in other areas of life. UGH. My anxiety was compartmentalized. It had to do with home life and faith.
Yes, my faith gave me anxiety. I’ll admit this. I had anxiety over it due to insecurities. At this stage in my life I wasn’t dating the right guys, wasn’t making all the best decisions. Quite honestly, it really all stemmed from dating the wrong men and not sharing the same core beliefs in life. There were also the people who wagged your finger stating ‘you can’t possibly be a Christian if… ‘ that were present in my life.
Even during college I was making payments in students loans and after college I was still living at home because 75% of my paycheck went to paying student loans. This wasn’t by choice it was because one of the three loan monthly loan payments was nearly $700/month. Making the right financial decisions, trying to figure out to manage the idea of making grad school a reality, home life, and wondering how I’ll meet life goals/expectations I had for myself gave me anxiety. Eventually work contributed to my anxiety. Then I was diagnosed with PTSD.
Eventually the idea of socializing gave me anxiety.
I got over the worst of my anxiety. I started to manage it better by changing myself: my mindset, really stepping into my faith, my diet, exercise and how I would communicate with those around me. With all change, it takes time and I was determined to not take medication.
I’m not going to say I won against anxiety, but I definitely didn’t lose. For a long time I managed it well. For a long time I was able to identify it creeping in and what I needed to do for myself.
There are cases were depression and anxiety come hand in hand. Depression didn’t happen until a year and a half ago-ish. I wasn’t depressed as a kid or a teen or young adult. It wasn’t until my younger brother passed away did I feel depression. It was a result of events, rapid changes and realizations. Depression hit me hard. Not admitting it out loud for a long time and avoiding certain realities helped me spiral into it even more.
In February I was having a rough day. Later on in that day there was a life altering conversation that took place. Unbeknownst to the other person that I wasn’t having a stellar day, they really laid into me about a lot of things.
I had the worst anxiety attack in my life.
I had a really important event to get to that night. To celebrate an accomplishment of an amazing friend. The next day at work was a really big day. After work I had plans to meet a few people for dinner.
I still went to celebrate my friend. I still went to work. I couldn’t socialize. I had to use so much energy to work with this anxiety, a level I haven’t faced in years, that I just needed to go home and crash. That weekend I couldn’t function and do the things I had intended. I needed to hide in my room and take really long showers and cry.
Realizing that I reached that point and almost 31 years old… I knew I needed to start admitting how I’ve been feeling and changes need to take place. I can’t allow anxiety to make my life come to a halt, even if it’s been 5 + years since the last time it happened. I have things to do, I have a life to live and I needed to seek assistance. For years in my 20s anxiety kept my from socializing, even for free, with friends. Anxiety made me feel aged. It kept me from sleep. It made me even more sensitive to noise, which made falling asleep (no matter how exhausted I was) the worst part of my day. I absolutely refuse to let anxiety or depression have me.
I’ve admitted to those around me, when it appropriate in conversation, my recent struggles with anxiety and depression. Some people already knew because the amazing people who are my closest support system reached out noticing changes in my behavior or lack of presence. I’ve been nothing but brutally honest and open with them.
Now, I’m opening up to you. It’s been the reason why I’ve been absent. I’m so much better at this moment. I’m working on feeling even better! Again, it’ll take time and consistency.
I plan to share more about this. Some parts in detail, because I know someone needs to know they’re not alone in feeling that way and it can change.
If you have questions about the changes I made, leave them below. If you have something you want to share regarding your anxiety, past or present, please share. Being able to talk about this is healing and you never know what statement you’ll make that will leave a lasting impact on someone else.