I believe that I’ve always had a bit of anxiety in me. I can remember little outbursts as a child, though many would attribute it to just that – being a child. I’m currently 21 years old, and I’ve had a good deal of things happen to me in my life. Some of it I’m happy to discuss, some of it I’m not. 2014, I believe, was the year that my mental health went in a strange direction. I started worrying about things like the death of a loved one and not getting anywhere in my life and being pulled in a direction that I was unprepared to be pulled into. I began having panic attacks over these things. The panic attacks consisted of crying, shaking and trouble breathing. I began seeing a counselor in September 2014. Ultimately, I only saw her twice because I just felt like she was being incredibly judgmental of my circumstances and lacked any kind of understanding of them. By November of that year, a big change was happening in my personal life. We were going to be moving into a home with another person. To clarify, my mother was helping an elderly woman, and the elderly woman’s granddaughter more or less insisted that we move into the house to take care of her. My mother was very quick to agree, whereas I thought it was a terrible idea as I had an awful feeling about the woman’s granddaughter. My anxiety was so awful the night my mother had said we were moving that I just cried and screamed like a child. That was the first real loss of control over my anxiety that I had felt. It wasn’t so much that we were moving as it was the circumstances. My anxiety wasn’t a fan of uprooting our lives to make the woman’s granddaughter’s life easier. I also didn’t trust her. Eventually, I found I had every reason not to, but that doesn’t relate to my anxiety, so I won’t discuss it. It does, however, seem to validate my feelings a bit. This happened on November 10th, 2014. November 10th is now a trigger day for me. I’m always worried something bad is going to happen on November 10th.
In February 2015, a financial circumstance triggered another gigantic anxiety attack. It was also an argument with my mother. I stayed up until 4 in the morning, felt really alone and was still feeling it the next morning. The fight with my mother continued, and after she had said some things that further triggered my anxiety, she made an appointment for me with another counselor. A therapist, really, but I’ve always just referred to her as a counselor, though I have no problem with the latter word. I was nervous at first, however, warmed up to the idea very quickly when I realized I was talking to someone who wasn’t going to yell at me or invalidate my feelings. Sure, she’s being paid, but it’s better than holding everything in. After the first two sessions, I got an official General Anxiety Disorder diagnoses. The feeling that comes with receiving a diagnoses of some sort is very relieving. Throughout the rest of 2015, I had panic attacks here and there. One specific panic attack in September related to the woman’s granddaughter who I mentioned earlier, and my mother’s failure to follow through with things she said she was going to do. That’s a big trigger for my anxiety; people saying they’ll do one thing then doing another when the thing the originally planned to do was important.
On December 31st, 2015, when the ball was dropping for the new year, I got emotional. 2015 was the absolute worst year for my anxiety. I was worried constantly about our living situation, finances, the future, not being able to trust certain people and a bunch of little things in between. My therapist was pretty much the only person who had any kind of understanding of what was going on. I only felt comfortable talking to her.
Enter 2016. While the anxiety and panic attacks haven’t been as bad as they were in 2015, they are still very much present and dwelling. I still see my therapist because she’s wonderful, and she also validates that the things that I’m feeling aren’t irrational. That’s something else my anxiety does. It convinces me that everything that I’m worried about is irrational. Or other people do. Sometimes, however, I’m feeling so good that I just see my therapist to vent about random things. I keep them relevant to my anxiety in case she has some hidden gems of advice. In 2015, while I was seeing my therapist, I can’t tell you how many times I cried in her office just because I was so sick of everything. I would go in there and she would just see the exhaustion on my face from nights I would cry myself to sleep or nights that my fear and worry just wouldn’t rest.
Therapy has been the most helpful tool for my anxiety. I’m someone who has refused medication from the start, though wouldn’t be completely opposed to it if I literally felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. I reached that point a few times but talked myself out of medication. I learned from my therapist that medication only solves 25% of the problem. Treatment is the other 75%. It may not solve it, but it helps it significantly.
These days, my anxiety is still triggered by a lot of the same things that it’s always been triggered by; death of a loved one, money, my future, failing, people not doing what they say they’re going to do when it’s important, disappointing people, not being good enough. The difference now is that I try really hard to put all of those concerns into a stack, pick them off, and define them for what they are in the moment. For example, my loved ones are healthy right now; enjoy that. Financially, everything is good, enjoy it while it is. A conversation involving someone saying something they said they’d say then not saying it hasn’t happened since July. Try to be proud of yourself right now. You’ve worked hard on yourself. In those moments where you’re disappointed in yourself, think about that, and how no one else really knows your circumstances. You are enough. You’ll do great things.
It’s important for me in my severely anxious moments to live in the now. In a moment, I may be feeling anxious, and I’ve learned that it is important to feel it in those moments. Let it happen and not bury it. I feel it every single day. Every single day, it is triggered. Anxious people, and I’m not talking about people who have everyday anxieties, everybody has those, see the world differently. There’s a stigma behind it. I’m still learning how to handle it, and I’m still trying to help those around me understand it, too.
I’m Morgan. I’m 21 years old. I’m currently a Liberal Arts Major, though I plan on switching to Mental Health Psychology. I love to write, opinion pieces especially. I like learning about the human brain and how mental health works. I also love Fall and all things pumpkin. And also my cat.