I had an ex who, during the beginning of the disastrous end of our relationship, once told me that being with me felt like a chore, that spending time with me had become a burden.
And thus began my struggles with anxiety.
Now, sometimes when I interact with people, I become hyper aware of what I’m doing and become afraid of making a mistake or doing something to somehow look bad or unappealing. I’ve now become so afraid of rejection that sometimes I avoid social situations all together so there’s not even a chance of me messing up.
I constantly question whether my friends actually want to spend time with me or if they’re doing it out of obligation. I’m afraid to always be the friend making suggestions for things to do because maybe I’m being overbearing and nagging.
I’ve always been a bit of a worrier and a bit of an over thinker, but suddenly I found myself facing a whole new level of that when I had my first panic attack.
It started with trouble sleeping and as someone with a history of insomnia, I didn’t think too much of it.
Then suddenly one night as I laid in bed and let my worries from the day keep me awake, it all came cascading down. The weight and pain in my chest became overwhelming, my heart was racing and I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t even move.
Thankfully I’ve only experienced this a handful of times, but once is enough to really be shaken up. I’ve become fearful of my anxiety getting so out of control that I do develop a panic disorder. And of course, that only adds to the anxiety.
And as so many with anxiety can attest, it does have an actual negative effect on your life.
In August, one of my oldest friends, who I’d known since middle school, was moving to Chicago and had organized a going away dinner. For some reason, as I was in the shower getting ready to go out, I felt the anxiety building up inside me. By the time I had gotten out and was trying to get dressed, I was feeling so panicked at the prospect of going out that I couldn’t breathe. I had to curl up in bed to try and catch my breath. But then I couldn’t get up. I felt the weight on my chest and my legs and couldn’t move.
I made a mistake of reaching out to an ex who lived close in hopes that he was free to hang out so I could take my mind off my anxiety. Instead he tried to find the logical root to my panic asking me why I was feeling what I was feeling over and over when I said I didn’t know the answer. He even brushed off my fears of not being able to breathe or move by saying that I “would be fine.”
It was foolish of me to reach out to someone who doesn’t have a good understanding of mental illness and especially foolish since his actions have contributed largely to a lot of my insecurities. I can’t stress how important it is to find reliable people who care about you and who you trust to help you through these times or other methods to help you calm down.
This breathing gif I stumbled upon on tumblr is one thing I like to turn to when I’m panicking.
I also rely a lot on a couple of friends to either help talk me through a panic attack or distract me with normal conversation to help me calm down.
One of my closest friends also experiences panic attacks and anxiety herself, so she’s almost always the first person I turn to because she understands. And there are few things more hurtful than reaching out to someone who doesn’t understand.
Even in the few real instances where I’ve had to deal with it, anxiety has already taken away from my life, robbing me of time I could have spent with friends and family and forcing me instead into a state of fear and panic that I wouldn’t wish on anyone else.
Though people will dismiss you, and it’s easy to dismiss yourself, anxiety is real and has real consequences. Anxiety is real. Realizing that is one of the biggest steps you can take towards coping.