Tonight I was left gasping for air for about 10 minutes.
Tonight I felt like pulling my hair was the only sanity I could find (a trick I learned from a good friend).
Tonight I felt like the walls of my apartment were closing in on me and the silence was too loud.
Tonight I felt like I would do anything to get on a plane and go to my mom and curl up on the “big comfy couch” and just never leave.
Tonight I called my ex-boyfriend four times after saying I was done and blocking his number because he’s one of the only ones who gets it.
Tonight I sat in my chair with tears streaming down my face trying to get it together.
Tonight I had an anxiety attack.
For a long time, I’ve avoided explicitly talking about my mental health here because I felt like it wasn’t the time nor the place.
I was only just discovering what was going on in my brain and trying to navigate the world. I wasn’t sure who I wanted to know or even what to say about it. It’s something that’s so hard for me to describe and explain and I didn’t want anyone to think I was making it up.
I was worried that it would upset people I care about. I was honestly worried people at church would read it (I can’t explain that one. I have no idea why). I was worried people would perceive it something like a suicide note and feel that they needed to get me help. I don’t know… I was just worried.
Before I start on this, let me tell you. You don’t need to worry.
When I was maybe a senior in high school I came down the stairs bawling to my mom and told her sometimes I just feel like I can’t control my emotions. Sure there are a lot of times that I’m annoyed for a reason or sad for a reason or whatever it may be but other times I get super out of breath and I cry and I panic. Other times I just get terrified at a moments notice.
She took me to the woman doctor and got me on birth control because it would help regulate my hormones.
It worked for a while and I went back and saw a different doctor, this time in college. She listened to me explain my symptoms and informally diagnosed me with anxiety. In college, I dealt with depression on top of that. Tonight I learned that the two come from the same part of the brain and often go hand-in-hand. Long periods of inactivity that college brings can enhance that.
I’ve been feeling pretty good recently, though. I’m on a real routine, I get to get up and go to a job I love every day and I feel like my parents are proud of me.
Sometimes I feel alone. It’s hard to move 2000 miles away from what feels like everything. It’s hard to start a new life and lose almost all of your confidence. It’s hard to listen to the quiet sometimes. So tonight I just cracked.
I knew it was coming after feeling the way I did Friday. Working from home and being with myself all day doesn’t do great things for my health. I guess that’s one good thing – my brain does better when I’m stuffing it so full of things and business instead of longing for quiet and peace.
It can get hard. I hate those 10 minutes whenever they come. I hate those days that I just can’t get out of bed, but it’s a part of me. All of this is a part of my journey and I think I’m learning to accept it while it comes. A surprising number of people have anxiety and/or depression these days, so I’m not alone and neither are you.
Let me tell you one thing. Every time you beat it, you get a little bit stronger.
Every time you feel the stress and insecurities well up inside of you and you fight them down? You’re getting a little better.
Every time you are finally able to reach out and get a deep breath and you know everything’s going to be okay again? You learn one more tool to put in your toolbox for next time.
Anxiety isn’t fun, but it isn’t the worst thing. Anxiety isn’t something to be ashamed of. Anxiety isn’t something that you can really do a whole lot to control so know that it isn’t your fault. Anxiety doesn’t have to define you.
You can do this.