Learning to Live With Anxiety

August 31, 2015 /

By Alyssa Mitchell

Photo: Alfy

About a year ago, I blacked out at my boyfriend’s house and couldn’t wake up. My boyfriend carried me inside from the back yard. I could hear him crying on the phone with my mom, telling her I was unresponsive and breathing in a weird way.

I was hauled to the hospital with my mom following behind the ambulance. I could hear everything that everyone was saying but it was like everything was in slow motion. I spent the night in the hospital and the next morning the doctor explained that I had gone into shock because I was overwhelmed with worry. That’s when I found out that I suffer from an anxiety disorder.

I was diagnosed with Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. The doctor told me that taking an antidepressant would help me, but my mom felt I was too young and she worried about possible side effects.

Since my diagnosis, I’ve learned to manage my anxiety by myself without taking medication. It’s not always easy, and my anxiety affects me in a lot of ways. I have a hard time talking to people and engaging in conversation, because I feel as though I’m constantly getting judged. Certain things trigger my anxieties too, like the sight of blood or being home alone. I can’t even begin to touch on how much I hate being home alone, especially at night. When I’m home alone I get this sense that someone is watching me all the time, like a ghost, and it makes me crazy anxious.

Sometimes other people trigger my anxiety. Once, when I was switched into a new class, I panicked thinking about what everyone in my new class might think of me. My vision started to get blurry; I got really dizzy; and I lost my balance. My hands got sweaty and I started to twitch a bit. I went to the nurse’s office to take a few minutes to calm down. Loud noises can exacerbate my anxiety, so whenever I’m having an anxiety attack, I find a quiet place with no people where I can just calm down. I can cope with my anxiety that way.

As I’m learning to manage my anxiety, I’ve realized that some good friends can go a long way in making me feel comfortable. My friends usually help me calm down just by talking with me. When my friends can make me laugh I’m pretty happy, and it usually gets the things that make me anxious off my mind.

When I start to feel anxious, I can usually overcome it on my own. I’ll take a moment to walk away from who I’m around and just tell myself that I’m fine. The hardest times are when I’m in a place where I can’t find somewhere quiet to be alone and calm down. Sometimes when I can’t control my anxiety, or find a quiet space to escape, I have to just wait for it to pass and tough it out.

I think now that I have my life more planned out and feel that I have a sense of direction I am less self-conscious than I used to be. This translates into less anxiety. I plan to enlist in the Navy after graduating high school and make that my career. I have found that knowing your direction in life can help with self-esteem.

If you have anxiety, my suggestion is to find someone you trust to talk to. Try to find a place or a group where you are accepted, somewhere that you can be yourself and the people there accept you for who you are, and make you feel good about yourself. For example, I have a group of friends in my woodshop class who are the least judgmental people I have ever met and we laugh together a lot. They make me feel accepted. They aren’t the most popular people at school, but that doesn’t matter because we still have lots of fun together.

Writing about my anxiety has made me happy and hopeful at the same time. I’m happy to finally have an outlet to share the real me and what goes on in my head, and I’m hopeful that others will read this and give feedback. I want to hear what people have to say about this. I would love to hear other people’s stories about anxiety because anxiety isn’t an easy issue to talk about, and often people are afraid to speak up.

Writing about anxiety has made me realize that I cope with my struggle in more ways than I recognize. It made me look back and see that I’ve developed some useful ways of managing my anxiety, and I want to make sure to use those methods again. I would recommend writing about your anxiety and finding the right people and places to share it with as a coping strategy. You never know who else might have a similar experience. Though it’s normal to feel unsure or scared as I did, finding a safe space to talk about it can be the one little boost of confidence we all need.

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