I’ve always felt this invisible hand reaching into my mind and twisting all of my thoughts into a distorted mess of paranoia and discomfort. It has a name too.
I’ve always hated diagnosed labels; I used to be so afraid that they would take over my life and be a hindrance to the intrinsic motivation that I had spent so long building up. My mom eventually convinced me to go to a therapist after multiple meltdowns my junior year. After a couple of visits, my therapist told me that not only was I clinically depressed, but I also suffered from anxiety. I hate those two words so much. Especially since those two words had intangibly taken over my life.
Because my father suffered from manic depression, I was incredibly afraid that I would one day develop a similar mental detriment. And maybe that had been one of the root cause of my issues – my constant effort at maintaining stability.
I cringe to think about the feeling of anxiety itself. It is so incredibly hard to explain, although its effects are so visible. Last year, my mother was severely ill and I had to drive her to doctor appointments every week, as well as attend extra curricular activities and keep up with work from the five AP classes I was taking. I was also trying to save an already damaged relationship while at the same time breaking it down (apparently you can’t turn a toxic relationship into a good thing). I was extremely overwhelmed with trying to make life steady.
My anxiety would act up during the most unreasonable times, like when I was trying to study for a test (I am an awful test-taker and I really have to put in extra effort), or when I was trying to finish artwork for my AP Studio Art class, or even when I was reading a book. I would start uncontrollably crying, frustrated with my lack of focus. Then I would start screaming, and curl myself up in a ball. Eventually I would fall asleep. This happened too many times to count, especially when I was I was upset with my boyfriend (which was often). Once, reality shook me up from one of my anxiety attacks when I heard a knock on my door. It was two cops. I was screaming too loudly.
I try very hard to seem like I have it all together. I like being smart, hard working, efficient, and boring, even, and maintaining that positive image in front of others. I can’t be that all of the time, though. My anxiety has reduced a little bit, starting with the release of my constant attempts at being perfect, at stifling any source of instability in my life. I can’t always make an A on a test, I can’t always mix the colors in my palette perfectly, and I can’t always understand all of the words in a book. I certainly can’t pretend that bad things are good for me.
My life isn’t totally anxiety-free and I am not sure if it will ever be. Sometimes I require extra patience and tolerance towards myself. My ultimate goal is to be able to see my future without anxiety getting in the way at all – now, and then.