Is this normal?

I can’t remember when my anxiety started.

There’s not a time in my life that I don’t remember silently suffering. I had panic attacks in middle school. I suffered from depression during my pregnancy, which also happened to be my first year in college. Anxiety can be debilitating, and I’ve always been a silent sufferer. That is until I decided to talk about it. Talking about living with anxiety has changed my life, and helped me understand myself and my relationships.

I remember constantly crying during my pregnancy. My doctor was amazing and she served as a mother figure to me because my parents had moved out-of-state. I remember constantly crying while watching shows about childbirth. I remember being uncomfortable walking (read waddling) across a college campus and pretending not to notice the glares.

I remember all the questions I’d get asked. “Will they kick you out when you have the baby?” “What does your roommate think?” “How did your parents react?” “Why don’t you just drop out and get a job?” Never really being able to discuss the impact of being pregnant in college actually had on me.

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when I realized that I had moved past pregnancy hormones making me emotional, and into scary thoughts wishing harm on myself and my son. The thoughts progressed, and my doctor went from gently giving words of encouragement, to recommending I see a therapist. I don’t know if I would have ever acted on those thoughts had I not seen a therapist, but I did see one. She helped tremendously. I had my son and 8 years later he’s my best friend.

I’ll never forget that bout of depression. I can still feel how I felt them if I think about it long enough. Maybe that’s because living with anxiety has me somewhere in between. Sometimes it’s subtle, like flutters in my stomach that are less thrilling than “butterflies.” Other times, I’m short of breath and crying hysterically. Sometimes it’s a tightening of my body that leaves me feeling exhausted when the wave has moved on. Being self-aware, I have even noticed that aches and pains increase dramatically when my anxiety is peaking.

To me, anxiety looks like a constant battle of talking myself off the ledge. Sometimes the conversation happens internally. Sometimes it’s out loud. I want to be that person who wakes up super early, meditates, and journals daily but the truth is I’m just not. At least not at this point in my life.

I think what I’ve learned over the years is that it’s okay to not have it all figured out. Sometimes I meditate. Sometimes I write. Sometimes I medicate. Work out. Cry. Yell. Push people away. We as humans are resilient though, and there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. We just have to hold on and keep fighting.

 

XO