It was about 6 years ago when I first began to notice what I was feeling was not like
everyone else. I had always been the type of person to worry too much about everything. My family had always teased me about my inability to just “go with the flow” or “live on the edge.” I have always been the type of person to live religiously by my planner, scheduling in lunches with friends or shopping time. If it wasn’t scribbled into that little book, chances are it wouldn’t happen. One day, however, I found myself getting abnormally upset over the fact that I wasn’t completing everything listed each day. I felt like a complete failure if one task was left not crossed out. I would get so upset that everything I accomplished that day became obsolete. I began to worry that being such a failure would then affect my entire future. What if I don’t get into college? What if I never make it out of high school? What if all of my friends abandon me because I’m lazy and unaccomplished? All of this because I couldn’t cross out something like “pick up milk from the grocery store.” And yet I ignored all of this and tucked my thoughts away in the back of my head. After all, I had always been taught to not show weakness on the outside. All of my family’s problems were always solved by “it’ll get better with time.” I told myself that this was just a phase because of all the stressful things happening in pmy life at the time and it would soon pass. But these worries didn’t go away and soon I began to worry about other things. I would worry about being in public places alone, assuming other people were watching me, something I later learned was called an imaginary audience. In order to deal with these feelings I resorted to rebellious behaviors.
Things only became worse when I entered my freshman year of college. I found myself avoiding the grocery store until I was completely out of food simply because the thought of it stressed me out so much. Even on campus I had to put headphones in and turn my music up in order to survive the walk to class. If I forgot headphones, I could immediately feel my heart beat rising and my the blood rushing to my cheeks. My breathing would speed up and I would practically sprint to class. It got to the point where my feelings became inexplainable. I didn’t know why I feared the things I did. When I tried to make since of it all, my fears seemed pointless to myself. It was the smallest things that would trigger all of these reactions. I began to feel like I was losing my mind and talking to my parents about it was not an option, so I turned to friends. I tried a few times to explain what I was going through but they could never seem to grasp what I was saying. They, like myself, didn’t understand how such small things could make me so upset or why I couldn’t just snap out of my moods. Some nights they would invite me out and I just couldn’t find the words to explain that all I felt like doing was hiding in a corner for the rest of the night. I found myself randomly stuck in these monotoned moods that I couldn’t escape from.
One night for the third time that week, I found myself sitting in the floor of my room staring at the wall. For three hours, there had been complete silence. For these three hours I couldn’t decipher the feeling I was experiencing, all I knew is it was awful. I let my own thoughts and fears completely consume my life. That night I decided that I was going to do something about the way I was feeling. In one of my psychology classes I had learned about a few therapy techniques which I had originally thought of as crazy. It helped. After I calmed myself down I called my colleges counselor center and made an appointment. She explained to me what was going on in my body. She then begin to explain to me all the ways I could take control of my life
and fight back when my anxiety hit. I began to be more attentive of when I felt things were becoming too much. I took control. When entering crowded places I started taking deep breaths. I would tell myself “you have nothing to be afraid of.” I had to talk myself out of the panic that appeared and take control of my thoughts. To this day I am still learning as I go to control my thoughts and feelings and to let myself know that I am a strong person. I am learning to love myself and take care of myself. But most of all I am learning that my disease does not make up who I am.
So here are a few things I’ve learned from my experience.
- Don’t wait if you feel something is wrong. Don’t spend six years of your life fighting something you can’t decipher. As frustrating as it is, you are not alone. There are always others going through similar things.
- Do not blame yourself for what you are feeling or feel you’re weak when you can’t understand why you feel the way you do. Just because your friends and family may not understand does not mean they don’t care. In the end, YOU are control of your life and your thoughts.
- Although you may sometimes need help, you have to believe you have the final say in how big of a role events play in your life. You control your life, not your disease.
By: Caitlyn Farr, Anxiety In Teens Contributor