For the last several months, I have been primarily using this blog as an outlet for my poetry. I like using it as a place for me to share my creativity, keep track of how often I write, and encourage me to put up stuff on a fairly regular basis. But I also think that this is a good place for me to write about stuff that I’m dealing with in a less-than-poetic way.
I have always been a pretty high-strung kid. I’m a first born – motivated, high-achiever, perfectionist, etc. In a lot of ways, I am so thankful for those characteristics that are just a part of who I am. Being a perfectionist pays off in school, being motivated allows me to put enthusiasm into non-academic parts of my life. Those are all good characteristics that I am happy to have.
Unfortunately, these positive characteristics also make me overly focused, stressed, and give me sometimes overwhelming anxiety. Anxiety is one of those “medical” things that a lot of people laugh off. Depression is finally being considered a legitimate mental issue by the general public, but anxiety is still considered something that people should just deal with. Either you just have anxiety, and you should take a deep breath, maybe do some meditation, and stop drinking so much coffee, or you’re crazy. It often feels like there isn’t a lot of in-between.
Anxiety is a real thing, and it’s an issue I have dealt with since I was about 13. My eighth grade year, I started having a lot of hypochondriac-y spells. I would be unable to sleep for hours, and I couldn’t be in the pitch darkness without devolving into a mess of tears over an illness I didn’t have. If I had a cough, it was tuberculosis. A nosebleed? Leukemia. It was hard for me, and it was hard on my family. As a fairly mature eighth grader, it felt ridiculous to be reduced to having panic attacks over something you rationally know isn’t an issue.
Six years later, this is continuing to be an issue. I’ll go weeks sometimes without any issues, but then it’ll come back. Yes, anxiety is a mental issue, but it has physical manifestations. I will get headaches when I start to feel anxious, working my way up to pretty intense nausea/sweating/feeling incapable of doing anything. Sometimes it is just an inability to think about anything other than the one thing I am panicking over. I can’t focus on anything else. Either way, it’s uncomfortable and often scary.
I joke about it often with family, and occasionally throw in the off-handed joke with friends because it is difficult to talk about even with those I’m close to. I feel exactly the same way now as I did when I was 13, except now I’m an actual adult.
I’m 19. Anxiety, panic attacks, hypochondria – all things I feel like I should have grown out of by now. I’m making good grades at a good school, juggling a job, and finding time to work on the relationships that are important in my life. I’m successful, and my life is pretty much perfect in every capacity. Which makes me feel almost guilty for being so irrational, so incapable of keeping my shit together sometimes.
There’s really no inspirational message I have about this, yet. Which means there’s no clever way to end this post, except for that I still have a lot to work on. I’m learning to treat myself seriously – to not dismiss my issues because they don’t fit in with the person I am in most other aspects of my life. I’m not sure what I’m going to do to work on it, but here’s to improvement.