Anxiety in Disguise

It took me years to realize that the symptoms that followed me in day-to-day life were from a cocktail of anxiety and depression. The depression was more obvious- it feels like nothing else. The anxiety, on the other hand, can produce symptoms that are common in many other ailments. My main symptoms, for example, were nausea, a racing heart, and trouble breathing. I went to several doctors, I had a scope done a few days before my 14th birthday to check for intestinal abnormalities, and I was finally given a diagnosis of acid reflux and asthma. I was put on medication which, unsurprisingly, did nothing. None of my doctors connected the dots. I have a history of anxiety and mental illness in my family, and the symptoms only bothered me before and during school.

I guess what I’m saying is that there are people out there with symptoms just like mine who don’t realize they have anxiety, and therefore can’t get the help they need. It’s not always obvious. There’s also not always a trigger, and it can appear out of nowhere. I figured out my diagnosis myself, and all of a sudden my constant fidgeting and restless mind made sense to me. I stopped taking my acid reflux medication and using my inhaler, and instead focused on bettering my way of thinking and the way I interact with people, since my anxiety is mostly social.

Especially in my case, where I’ve had persistent anxious thoughts throughout my entire childhood, it can be hard to tell when it’s developed into a full-blown disorder. The symptoms that anxiety brings don’t always make sense if you’re trying to find a physical cause, and the same mistake can be made by doctors. Some common physical symptoms of anxiety can be: nausea, shaking, sweating, rapid heartbeat, random crying, and insomnia. You can experience all of them or just a few, and they can be caused by a trigger or come from out of nowhere. Either way, if you believe you have an anxiety disorder and you haven’t already talked to a doctor, do that. I made the mistake of avoiding it, and I didn’t realize what tremendous benefits could come from the right balance of therapy and medication. Anxiety is very treatable, and it will get better.

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How to Fall in Love

It’s called falling in love for a reason. You have to let yourself be vulnerable. You have to open yourself up and let them see all the good, bad, and embarrassing things about you, and they have to do the same with you. The more you open up, the deeper you fall. It can be the most gradual thing in the world, like it was for me, or it can be pulled off quick like a band-aid. That part is up to you.

You have to remember that those feelings in the beginning, after the nerves subside, are the most addicting feelings in the world. And for the most part, they do go away. It’s new love and it’s infatuation. What’s left behind should be partnership in its truest form, respect, and, yes, love. Love can transform, it bends and molds itself according to each relationship. It’s different every time. And nothing’s stopping it from changing a million times in the same relationship. It changes with you, often without you even realizing it.

After that exciting and warm beginning phase of love, it’s not the love that matters so much in the relationship. Love won’t keep you together. It’s the foundation you build while the love is still in its infancy that matters, and the determination and hard work is what keeps you going.

Amateur Poem

I’ve known you for a day,

but what really do I know?

I know that your crooked smile

and your crooked laughter

are the reasons that birds chirp

so happily at the sun-rise.

I know your baby complexion

and crystal eyes,

are why the skies compete in beauty

day and night.

 

I’ve loved you for a month,

but what really do I know?

I know the flutters I feel

when your body presses lightly against mine,

and how it feels to want you.

I know how your nervous fingertips

love clinging to my shaking palm,

to create our steady union.

 

I’ve been yours for so long,

but still what do I know?

I know how it feels

to fear losing love

and what it means

to nearly steal it from myself.

I know what it is like

to own a pair of clean blue eyes

and to have them own me

in return.

 

I have to miss you now,

and I still know not enough.

With your goodbye,

you curse me with questions

I’ll have to answer by myself.

My dear, my darling, my daring Navy-boy,

you’ve left me.

Where to? Who knows?

You’re gone,

and with you go the happy birds

and the beauty of the skies.

Short-lived Terrible Decisions

I broke up with my boyfriend and got back together with him twelve hours later. I took a job at a cabinet factory and quit a week later- but at least I made $500 out of that. I listened to Talking in Code by Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s for a couple hours (10/10 don’t recommend), cried, and then decided I wanted to join the National Guard. I’m now being bombarded by recruiters even though I keep telling them I’ve been on antidepressants for three years and that temporarily disqualifies me, and I’m probably too neurotic anyways. I changed my major, applied to a dozen new jobs. I considered moving. I scheduled my driving test and then panicked a day before and rescheduled it. My test is now on Saturday and my permit expires on Sunday. Oh well! Onto the next batch of mistakes. That’s life.

Dying Out

My lovely boyfriend of two years. My heart and soul, my best friend since junior year of high school, no longer feels like that. Whether my anxiety can be blamed for this revelation is a mystery to me, and all I know is that I don’t love him anymore. He no longer gets my heart racing when he sends me sweet messages, nor does the sight of him bring me joy. I no longer wait in anticipation for affection, and I don’t look forward to time with him.

Of course something happened to result in this. My birthday, he broke my heart. He got me nothing, then told me it was my fault and that I should find someone better. I said no. A few days later he hurt me again. I don’t even remember how, because I don’t care anymore. Everything’s been slowly dwindling away since then and he doesn’t even know. He’s tried to make up for it. I’m waiting for it to get better, but my hopes aren’t high. I don’t know what to do.

How to Break Out of Your Shell

It sounds cheesy, but my boyfriend saved me. Junior year of high school, in December, a boy slipped his phone number in my locker. On a dare, I messaged him. Now two years later, I’m more talkative and open, and I struggle less on a daily basis. It took months to even make prolonged eye contact with him, much less hold a conversation, but he was patient with me for reasons I still don’t understand. The way he broke me out of my titanium shell was this: we communicated. We set goals for each day. And it worked. It was easier for me because I was more comfortable around him than I was with most other people, but even if you’re not as lucky as I was, it’ll work.

Just to be clear, it wasn’t really him that saved me, despite the first sentence of this post. He just gave me a reason to save myself. I worked long and hard because I wanted to be with him. Find a reason that works for you. Think of your future, a job you want, a family you want to start one day, and think of how much easier it would be to obtain those things if you weren’t struck with anxiety and low confidence day after day.

We worked on it slowly. The first few days, I couldn’t look him in the eyes, and my record for words spoken to him was three (“Hi… I’m okay”). Within months, he was my best friend. We texted constantly. If it hadn’t been for the existence of phones, our relationship would have never had a beginning. So set goals for yourself. Don’t throw away the training wheels until you’re actually ready, because the tiniest setback could take a fatal hit on your confidence. I speak from experience. I had been trying for years to be more outspoken and confident, and it wasn’t until Junior year that I realized that it wouldn’t happen overnight. Be patient, set goals, track your progress, and it’ll be easier to not overthink it over time.

Why I Dropped Out of College

I attended Kent State University in Ohio for a little over a semester. I held a job in the nearest dining hall and dormed alone. I absolutely loved my job, and the change from my small and crowded home to my solitary dorm was relaxing for a while. However, my grades weren’t the best and my classes weren’t interesting to me. For a school that requires thousands of dollars to attend, that’s not okay. My least favorite class turned out to be American Literature, a bummer since my major was English. I used to adore reading and writing until I arrived for my freshman year of college. It stomped out any passion that I held for the subject, and when I came home for winter break, my room full of books that I would never read just depressed me. So I got rid of them. I’m talking hundreds, if not thousands, of books. But I felt better.

I got a puppy with money that I’d saved up, and returned back to school three days later. My doctor had been experimenting with my antidepressants over break, trying out new prescriptions and doses. The second I came home, my dorm wasn’t relaxing, it was lonely. I realized that nobody would notice if I never came back out. Or at least it would take a while. I struggled to sleep, and it was torture to get out of bed in the morning. I skipped classes and started calling off from work. I was doing the bare minimum in every aspect of my life, holding my head just above the water.

I couldn’t have kept that up for much longer. I had lost what little motivation I had to begin with, which is not something you can afford to lose when struggling through four years of school. I chalked it up to the different medications and made an appointment with my doctor. I told him how I was feeling, and he told me that I needed to come home. He advised me to book an appointment with a psychiatrist and a therapist so that I could resolve what was going on in my head. So I jumped on the idea. I moved out of my dorm a week later, lugging all my stuff to cram back into our tiny house, and I’ve been sleeping on the couch ever since. The psychiatrist that I saw could see the anxiety that floods my body, but she didn’t see the depression. That worried her. She put me on three different mild medications that are supposed to work together and sent me on my way.

I’m still trying to sort myself out. I changed my major to something that actually interests me, and I’ll start summer classes this July. I won’t be dorming anymore. I’m working on getting my license so that I can gain some independence. And I have an interview for a well-paying job on Monday, which also happens to be my birthday. I’m working it out. And once I figure out how to become happy, I’ll let you know. Wish me luck.