Stigma Fighters : Annamarie Jenkins

We all have anxiety. It’s our body’s response to stressful situations. It’s our body’s way of telling us to be wary of situations that make us feel uncomfortable. It’s our body’s response to fight or flight. But what do you do when your body is constantly in that state? Hide? Run? But where to? You don’t have anywhere to go. Your apartment doesn’t feel safe. Your car isn’t safe. Your mom’s house isn’t safe. The entire outside world doesn’t feel safe. Why? Because the problem is in your head. And no matter how hard you try, you can’t escape your own mind.

I’ve always been a pretty melancholy person. Very quiet, very reserved. Things made me sad. I was always the “sensitive” one. I accepted that was me and tried to muddle on the best I could. It wasn’t enough. When I was 23, I went through a very traumatic experience. That’s when I was introduced to anxiety. Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Sometimes it’s genetic, sometimes environmental, or, in my situation, stems from a traumatic experience. I had no way out.

What the “stigma” is and what some people fail to realize about anxiety is that it’s more than feeling “nervous.” It’s the sleepless nights, it’s the panic attacks that feel like you’re having a heart attack. It’s the intrusive thoughts about hurting yourself or others, it’s the depression, it’s the throwing up, the diarrhea, it’s the choking sensations, it’s the headaches, the dissociation, it’s the ringing in your ears, the jumpiness from toast popping. It’s the noise your car makes and then within 30 seconds flat you’re curled up in the fetal position, convinced your car will break down and you have no money to fix it. It’s the sweating, it’s the rapid heartbeat, it’s the dry mouth. It’s the shaky hands, the feeling of losing control, the feeling that “this panic attack is it. I’m going to lose all sense of reality and what’s real.”

THAT is anxiety.

Anxiety prevents me from walking in a straight line cause I’m so overwhelmed. Anxiety prevents me from dealing with “adult” situations. Anxiety prevents me from a good nights sleep. Anxiety prevents me from taking road trips, going on vacation, spending money.

Anxiety prevents me from a lot but it will NOT prevent me from living.
With shaky legs, sweaty palms and a pounding headache, I will keep moving forward.

With dissociation, depersonalization and ringing in my ears, I will keep smiling.
This is not a flaw in my character, only a flaw in my chemistry.
I am Annamarie. Not anxiety.

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aAnnamarie is 24 years and living and loving in Northern IL. She has an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts and is working as a personal assistant. If you can’t find her with her friends and family, you’ll find her zipping past cars on her bike. She snorts when she laughs and you can never tell when she’s serious because she is full of sarcasm.

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  • http://astrongradio.tumblr.com Allison Strong

    Hello AnnaMarie. I relate totally.
    I too (Bipolar depression and anxiety) am determined not to let it to rob me of healthy and life-affirming activities, even though the anhedonia (inability to experience pleasure at all) makes it so I don’t enjoy my walks, my music or my reading as much as during a ‘well’ cycle.
    It’s hard. It’s a real effort. I try hard to use sheer will to continue to press forward, and congratulate you on doing the same during your melancholia.

  • Christine Collins Cacciatore

    Proud of you for being so brave. You are not alone.