Small Steps

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20161226_230525_1505946934343By: Cher

I hate having this feeling. It is the worst feeling that anyone can ever imagine. We all have that feeling to some degree. Some can control it better then others and some cannot control it all. It can get bad, oh so bad. That feeling that I am speaking of is anxiety. Anxiety, anxiety, anxiety. I can say it so many times and that little word has never escaped my life, no matter how much I try. Everyone gets anxiety occasionally, it is expected as a part of your life. From giving a speech in public, to anxiously waiting for a thrilling ride at an amusement park, to making an important decision of your life. However, when anxiety affects your work, relationships or social life is when it becomes an issue.

I am no expert and do not have a degree in psychology or any type of medical field, but I have been dealing with this for a while now and want to share my experiences. I thought it was a phase in my life that I believed would go away, but it recently came back again…full force. Let me share with you how it all began. My freshman year of college was hard for me, adjusting to a new environment, surrounded by people I did not know and making new friends. Don’t get me wrong, I love meeting new people, but I did not like to be forced into environment to do so. The first time I experienced it was during my freshman year in class. While I was sitting in class one day, my mind started freaking out, which caused my heart to race really fast and I could not breathe. I literally started panicking. That was the first time and it did not stop there. My panic attacks normally did not occur in a small classroom setting, but in the larger classroom setting. It felt like I was losing control. It became a challenge for me to focus in my classes.  I ended up failing one of my classes (thank God, it was only one) and had to retake the class again that next Fall. I was devastated that something had taken such control over my life and I felt like there was nothing I could do about it.

However, it did not stop there. It got so bad, I couldn’t focus on driving. Images would flash in my mind and I would start panicking in the car. Things like driving off a mountain or other cars hitting my car made me scared to drive. I would start driving and then something would trigger my mind and I would start having a panic attack while driving and would have to pull over. I was a nervous wreck. I started to hate driving. Also, anything such as bridges, escalators, mountains, etc. triggered my panic attacks. You can also see a common theme here…anything heights related. My friends would call me crazy. I used to laugh it off, but then I started to think about it, there was something wrong with me. What if I was really crazy?

Over time it got better, I researched ways on the internet to understand how I could gain self-control and thought about seeing someone to talk about it. I figured I could do it on my own. So, I kept it to myself and tried to do control it on my own. Until recently… I had a panic attack earlier this year and it freaked me out. It had been a long time since I’ve experienced one. I thought I overcame this barrier in my life, but it came back knocking on my door like a long-lost relative. I’m still not sure what triggered it. Many things can trigger your anxiety such as work, stress, your health, the foods you eat and relationships you have. I had to step back and think about all the things in my life and what was toxic and non-toxic. I changed my diet (I ate so much better when I lived on the west coast), started to exercise and after speaking to my general physician, she referred me to someone I can confide in.

I realized some things I cannot do on my own. I can ask for help and receive help from others when needed. I am so eager to help those that sometimes I forget to help myself. Seeing social media posts on mental health also shows me that I am not the only one dealing with this and how important it is to take care of yourself first and others second. The Anxiety and Depression Association of American (ADAA) states that, “anxiety disorders are the most common and persuasive mental disorders in the United States.” See that key word there…persuasive?  With that being said, if you are reading this… you can convince yourself that you can fight it and know how important it is to take care of yourself. Also, you are not alone. There are tons of resources and support groups out there to help with anything that you are dealing with. Myself, I have to take small steps, every day.

Love life and full of smiles,

C

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I felt like I was reading my own journal. I didn’t understand what anxiety was at first and when I got more information about it, I realized I’ve been anxious from a very young age. The height triggers are terrible. I thought I was nuts for having those visions when I was driving or on a bridge. Seeing my PCP and getting on medication worked wonders for me as well as meditation. I love that you pointed out that we need to take care of ourselves just as well as we like to do for others. Good luck to you!

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