The Start of My Anxiety

Anxiety. I struggle with anxiety. A word, term or label that is scary to say out loud.

I’m broken inside. I’ve been for a few years. I’ve been broken down by people who should know what they are doing, by myself and by people who I should’ve known better. That isn’t where this started….

Ever since I was little, as little as I can remember I hated going outside alone. Not because of some old dude in a white van trying to sell me candy, but because I felt like everyone was watching me and judging me. When I was with my friends I was perfectly fine doing anything outside but by myself it was something different. At the time I didn’t think much of it and I wouldn’t for several years, but this is what I call social anxiety. Over the years its gotten worse, from personal experiences to outside pressures. As a kid, I didn’t immediately think I had anxiety or even depression, I thought everyone deals with this and I never told anyone because I thought it was weird to talk about.

As I was growing up I tried to just ignore it and push through the anxiety. I tried creating certain habits to help me fight through the anxiety even though I wasn’t sure what I was doing would help. Reading was one of those habits, it was a world unlike ours with stories oh so beautiful and I loved to immerse myself into those stories. I was addicted and it helped me calm myself down and forget about my thoughts. Another habit was digging my fingernails into my palms or my skin to either stop myself from crying or to not move and stand still. As a kid, and sometimes now, I am terrified of my dad and his voice. He was in the marines and has a very commanding voice. That voice scares me. I know he loves me and that he wants to protect me but that voice to this day scares me. I got so terrified that when I got yelled at with that voice and felt the emotional blow of his words that I would dig my fingernails into my skin. It became a habit of when I was in trouble and had to stay in one place I’d dig my nails into my skin since I knew I couldn’t walk away. 

In about 7th grade I went to therapy for a few things and also my anxiety and my relationship with my dad. I was told a lot of things about my relationship with my dad, good and bad. I know that he loves me and wants to build a better relationship which, recently, we have focused on doing. It’s hard to get the initial fear and worry of past circumstances out of my head. Sometimes I wonder if that’s why I have social and emotional anxiety. I was always terrified being in public with my dad and how he could yell at me at any moment or of the small things he does; rolling eyes, scoffing and his posture and so I got really good at reading other people and their thoughts as well.

My anxiety freshman year took another blow after some bad relationships. I had been in a long relationship and it ended over the summer on not great terms but we were trying to remain friends and then my best guy friend and I had started to form feelings for each other. We started dating and it lasted 3 days. In those 3 days my self image was destroyed. He was my best friend and treated me like dirt. After 3 days he broke up with me saying I was clingy, annoying and ugly. Keep in mind, he had, up to this point been my best friend for over a year. I had never experienced anything like this and I felt so broken, shattered. I know it was only 3 days but for my best friend to call me those things hurt more than I had ever felt before. I started to overthink everything anyone said to me, either in person or through text. My body image spiraled down and my anxiety levels skyrocketed. I didn’t believe anyone could find me pretty and even if they said I was pretty how could I believe it? I started to become emotionally distant from everyone. What if I was too clingy or too annoying? What if no one really wanted to hang out with me and they just accepted I was there. To this day I struggle with all of this, other relationships and experiences haven’t helped but this is where it really started to affect me.

From then on, as I mentioned, I started to overthink. Now I know that everyone overthinks in some way or another but if in text someone put one less period than normal, shortened a word down, didn’t text me for a few hours or said you were busy? I thought it was all my fault and so I would leave them alone or start to worry that I was annoying them. I had heard people talk about anxiety at this point and a close friend of mine has anxiety and explained it to me. Some of the things she described were like me but others were way off track and so I did some digging. I found articles, posts and more about anxiety and they in some way or another described my everyday thoughts and actions. I apologized constantly, always thought people were judging me for my actions, couldn’t stand up in class by myself, overthought about anything and didn’t trust people.

As I grew older I had a lot of physical medical issues, including last fall when I was out of school for a month and a half due to the fact that I had extreme pain in my right hip and right knee. I saw dozens of doctors all of different specialties all of whom told me they don’t know why I’m in pain. We considered surgery among other things and did physical therapy by which time I had given up hope in finding an answer, which although not ideal helped me get through since to this day we have no answers and at this point I had missed a lot of school. I had missed so much school that the counselors and teachers had told me I needed to be back in school. My parents asked about online options and were told that I couldn’t possibly do online school as the classes I was taking weren’t offered. They, the school, in essence forced me to come back telling me and my parents that this was the only option. This. Did. Not. Help. My. Anxiety. I felt like I was constantly being looked at and since I couldn’t wear a brace because if I did then it would be on my knee which causes more pain for my hip. There’s no such thing as a brace for your hip that you can move in so I pushed myself through. The school proposed me being in a wheelchair and having people push me around, that option was denied by me very fast. I could not fathom the idea that I would be in a wheelchair which I’d never been in before and made me feel worse about going back to school. I choose to go back with crutches. As time went on I kept getting bullied being told that I’m just faking it. Sometimes people stole my crutches from me and proceeded to use them and I’d have to go fetch them as I held back my tears. Even after I was out of crutches I was terrified of being made fun of for still limping, and so my anxiety went higher as I felt everyone watching me even if they weren’t. I felt judgement from other students and from faculty that I was faking to get attention when it was one of the worst pains and times of my life. I completely blame the school for forcing me back and giving no options for online. Look at us now, not even a year later in the midst of a pandemic doing online school.  I wish that had been an option for me last fall as it would have helped my mental and my physical health. I still feel scared when I go to school and I have a brace or an icepack because of random joint pains. I make up lies in response to some people’s questions because I still don’t know why my pain exists and if I can’t explain it, it’s not real right?

Now it’s 2020, one of the worst years of the 21st century. Death, worry, frustrations and declining mental health. Even if I didn’t have anxiety to begin with I would feel it now. We all feel it now. But how can we take our anxiety be stronger? Yes, we are all broken in some way, I know I am but I push through I find my happy spots. I surround myself with people who care and I try to get better but we all have setbacks. I deal with a lot, mentally and physically and I know people have it worse but I do know that I still matter and my problems still matter. Even the stereotypical “white privilege kids” still have problems too. No one should feel ignored or abused, we as a society need to realize that being different is okay. If you yourself struggle with anxiety or depression please reach out to a friend and when needed a trusted adult or counselor. Because it is okay not to be okay.