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My Thoughts Day 1: My Anxiety is Slowly Killing Me

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is not just simply the feeling of being anxious, nor is it just the feeling you get when you have a math test later on, or when you are about to speak in front of a group of people. Anxiety is a mental illness, much like depression. It is a disorder in which you excessively feel uneasy and worry over current and future events. When you have anxiety disorder, your typical response to most conflicts is to overthink obsessively and worry yourself sick. When everything becomes overwhelming, it can result in a panic attack, or in some cases something close to a panic attack. What makes anxiety disorder distinctive from that feeling of being anxious is both the response to it, and the fact that when you have anxiety disorder you obsess over whatever you are worried about, whether it is a big conflict or something trivial.

Another difference? You cannot control anxiety disorder. No matter how much you want to, or how much you try to control your thoughts, you just can’t. It’s like telling someone with bipolar disorder to control their mood swings, or telling someone with ADHD to learn to control themselves; it’s just not possible.

Some people do, however, disagree with this. They will say that anxiety is not a disorder, but rather people upsetting themselves over little things. Everyone has problems, but are able to get over it. People who claim to have anxiety disorder are just people crying for attention because they don’t know how to handle their problems.

I have an example from the past of dealing with people with this ignorant mindset:

Early August 2015. Warm summer day. Canal Street, NYC

I am with my ex-boyfriend and his mom, giving their friends a tour of Manhattan. We have been walking around with no break all day. We went from walking the Coney Island boardwalk, to the Staten Island Ferry and back, to walking from South Ferry to Tribeca. They were hoping to walk Chinatown and Times Square next, but my feet were tired and I had work the next day. They were walking in an extremely fast pace as well so that did not help my aching feet. The sun was also ready to set, and I hated travelling on the subway alone at night. One would think that after keeping me out on my feet all day, my ex would have had the decency to take me home or make sure I get home safe in some way. Oh no, he was going to send me off alone because, despite making me go around Brooklyn and Manhattan with his friends, he decided he couldn’t part ways with them for just a little bit just so that he could ensure I made it home okay. Not to mention that he thought all that travelling and walking we did was not too much, and his mother seemed to agree with this poor treatment toward me.
So here is what I thought:
Wow, my safety is not important to him or his mother.
Are you fucking kidding me?
How do they not see that they are wrong?
I feel like I walked all over New York City. All five boroughs.
He really doesn’t care about me, does he?
He seems more invested in his friends despite me taking time out my day to travel around all day, and visit tourist spots of a city I have lived in all my life with people I don’t even know. While we were on the ferry and at the 9/11 memorial he barely even paid me any mind. What I am doing for him doesn’t mean anything, huh?

These thoughts didn’t just cross my mind just once, nor did they leave when I tried to argue with him and he just wasn’t getting it throughout the day. Neither was his mother. In fact, she was encouraging his behavior toward me on letting me leave alone. I felt so overwhelmed, and all those horrendous thoughts I listed above kept replaying in my head like a broken record. My heartbeat kept increasing rapidly, and I felt like the sun was suddenly beating directly on me. I tried, however, to ignore it.
Then we went from Chambers to Canal street to get to Chinatown. On the way there is where it happened. Where I argued heavily with his mother as my heart felt like it was going to rip out my chest from beating too hard and where I felt like I was drowning in sweat. Still eager to prove my point, I kept on going until he lost his patience with me and threw something then walked away.
Then, the flashbacks played in my head. The flashbacks of growing up witnessing my father do the very same thing when he lost his temper quickly. Him lashing out on my family and I so easily, along with his habit of throwing and breaking things when he lost control, caused me to become frightened whenever someone lashes out on me or starts throwing things around out of anger.
That is exactly what happened. Except I did not just cower away from the scene in fear. I began shaking and tears began falling down my face. He had stormed away, but his mom noticed, and questioned why I was crying. My mind had eventually blanked out, and I only remember the following events in bits and pieces. I remember leanung against a rough brick wall because I could not even figure how to stand up anymore. I remember sobbing so loud I felt everyone around me was staring at me. I remember feeling like I was having a heart attack because the pounding of my heartbeat was so hard it was causing me immense pain. I rememeber it suddenly felt like breathing was too difficult to do and each inhale and exhale became stronger and stronger. There was sweat dripping from my forehead and palms, and the temperature felt like it increased to two hundred degrees. I recall the images of my ex in front of me with his mom and all my other surroundings flipping on and off as I attemped to pay attention to my surroundings like that bullshit Facebook post advises to do to ease out of a panic attack. I remember trying to push out words, but my heavy breathing made it impossible to talk. As I slowly began to come back to my own self, I had to resist the urge to both punch my ex in the face, and to jump in front of traffic in the nearby street.

Saying that I wanted to punch him may sound cruel, but my anxious mindset had automatically turned to inflicting violence on anyone who got even the least bit loud with me. I did not punch him, as I slowly began to regain control again, but who could blame me when he was urging me to answer him, and getting visibly angry with me that I did not when he saw how I was gasping for air?

Even if this was over a year ago, I do recall him saying these words:

“What do you have to be so anxious about? You need to chill.”

I also recall his mom saying this:

“You are too young to be getting upset like that.”

While it upset me, I should not have even been surprised. I kept wondering why someone so close to me that I have been there for could even think something so ignorant and have the nerve to speak so negatively against me for having this right in front of my face. I also wonder why someone who is a grown adult and a mother could honestly believe young people can’t have problems or be allowed to get upset over things. Then I remember that some people are just so closed-minded that they do not understand, or make an attempt to understand, something that does not affect them. It is like when someone tells another person with clinic depression to just get over it and go out more; some people have ignorant beliefs about certain things they don’t know personally about.

When it comes to people who are ignorant about mental illnesses, I keep them at a distance. If they cannot shut up about their ignorant beliefs, I drop them like a boom. As I wrote in a previous post, “Special Snowflakes Versus the World,” everyone is entitled to their own opinion. As long as you do not shove that opinion down my throat, I will respect you whether or not I agree with it. I have had many friends who are closed-minded about my mental illnesses, and while their views on it irk me, I leave them alone about it as long as they do not judge me about it. I also have vowed to myself never to date someone who says nasty things in response to my anxiety again, and is anything but helpful when I imevitably have a panic attack.

I have a lot of supportive friends and a boyfriend who is understanding of anxiety and very patient when it comes to panic attacks. They subsided over the past year, as I started seeing a therapist shortly after that incident with my ex, and I started back on medication last October. The worst panic attacks I had were when I underwent a lot of stress during my last semester of college, and when I was in my uncles car back in February to say goodbye to my grandma when it was time for her to be buried. While I had my medication and methods of coping with anxiety, such as writing and painting, it was still hard sometimes to ignore anxiety. Anxiety may be incurable, and you just have to learn to live with it, but lately it has gotten worse. My last dose of medication is gone, life finds a way to slap me in the face with a load of crap at one time, and my depression has found a way to kick me in the ass in such a way that my interest in anything I was passionate about to help calm my anxiety is gone. The fact that I have been able to keep my attention on this post for so long in one day amazes me.

What is it that I am so anxious about, as my ex had once so delightfully asked? Well, to close this post, I present to you an anxious thought train of mine. This final piece of my post derives from a time where my anxiety takes over, which can either happen due to a certain event, someone seriously upsetting me, or just when I am alone at night trying to sleep and the thoughts find their way in. The following thought train is an example of the last one.

A thought train:

*I am a disgrace. I don’t deserve to be happy, why do I ever think I will be? I want to apply to NYU, but what makes me think I will ever get in? If I don’t then I am a letdown to my family who wants me to better myself for the future but I just can’t do it. I have a great scholarship oppritunity to help get me into NYU but I can’t seem to get anyone to help me with recommendations and the application deadline is Tuesday. Crazy how I always help people and they never help me. But maybe that is the reason why. Maybe I don’t deserve any help. When you help people it should be selfless, and yet here I am expecting people to drop what they are doing to write something for me about how great I am. I am not gonna finish thay application in time. Maybe I did not know about that damn scholarship until yesterday, but maybe I would have if my lazy ass had started looking for scholarships sooner. I am a disappointment to my mom, my sister, and everyone I care about.

I turn 21 in eleven days. 21 and all I have is an Associates’ degree and no clue with what I want to do with myself. My phone battery is at thirty six percent. I want to continue with this post and post it today. I know I said that the purpose of this was to prove the significance of freewriting but I want it to be perfectly written. Who am I kidding though? I am not the best writer, no matter how hard I try. I know I am good, but there are so many good writers out there, so what makes me think that I am so special? I am mediocre compared to most, so I probably won’t make it out there. I don’t want to be famous, but I do want my writing to speak out to some. But how can it when all I do is write rants and personal experiences on this blog once in a blue? I am 20 years old with no plan, no future, and no idea of how I’m gonna pursue what I want to do. My life is a mess. Should I even say more?

Ah yes. I need glasses. I can barely see what I am typing because my reading glasses got crushed in my bag. But I can’t afford new ones. I can, but then I have no money saved. Money seems to be one thing I am anxious about. It shouldn’t be, but it is because I need stuff and because I am one of the worst savers in history. I need so many things. I want to save money for my birthday too…oh what does it matter? No one else seems to care much for it. People want to make requests on what I should do but no one cares to try and help out but me, my boyfriend, and my mom. My sister would probably help if she could. That is beside the point though. The last time anyone even did anything for me was my close friends taking me to a buffet years ago, and a friend of mine that took me out to a chocolate resturant two years ago. Oh wow, look at how ungrateful I am. I complain so much but now that I think about it people do care about my birthday. My best friend came with my family to a resturant last year and got me a giant teddy bear. Here I have the nerve to complain no one cares or tries. Its no wonder I feel selfish; I am very selfish. I do help people, some of which don’t help back, but I have close friends who care. I have a mom thay cares, a sister that cares, a boyfriend that cares, friends that care. I should be happy with that, but Im not. All I ever do is complain to people and then get angry at them for the littlest things, just like my exes said. I would not be surprised if one day, everyone I know and love just left me because I am pathetic in every sense and complain about everything. I know it annoys me, which is why sometimes I want to do whatever I can to make it all go away. No, those kind of thoughts are selfish too. You see Lisa, you are so annoying and selfish. So selfish. Just shut the fuck up already.*

Most of those thoughts may seem ridiculous, and I am sure anyone who cares about me that will read this will want to slap me for thinking such insolence, but that is anxiety and what it does to the brain. It is like my normal self leaves my body and is replaced by some overly obsessive worrier that repeats the same negativity over and over and lists everything wrong with my life, even if nothing is wrong, and causes me to see nothing but negative outcomes in everything. That whole thought train was my anxiety speaking, and what I deal with on a daily basis. I wish it would go away, but it wins every battle and takes over my head too often. It keeps me up at night, it causes me to need reassurance from others constantly that everything is okay and they don’t hate me, and it causes me to have those panic attacks that seem to go on forever when I am too overwhelmed by everything.

Now tell me anxiety disorder is made up and can be easily controlled.

 

 

My Lessons Learned: Part 1

INTRO

They say that getting hurt is an essential part of life and to live life with no regrets. They also say that it is always darkest before the dawn. Throughout the twenty-one years of my life I have lived so far, I have learned this to be true the hard way.

PART 1

It all started with that boy with the hazel eyes and the blonde patch of hair in his Mohawk. He was my “high school sweetheart,” my first boyfriend, and the first guy that taught me what happiness was. He stole my first kiss on the two train during the Spring of 2012 and nothing was ever the same for me again. All those years of being that ugly duckling that no guy would even consider giving the time of day quickly changed into having someone who actually wanted to be called mine and made me feel like I was actually worth something. Our first four months together was full of laughter, kisses, and memories that are now distant yet still remain implanted into bits and pieces in the back of my mind. There was also “I love you’s” exchanged, but we were sixteen and naive. What did we know about love?
As quickly as our beautiful relationship blossomed that Spring, it died out once that horrendous Summer ended. Our two-hour long phone conversations every day where we talked about everything and nothing turned into forced five minute conversations that ended in my tears. His sweet, gentle tone turned into a cold, bitter one that left me questioning if he had grown to despise me for some unknown reason. Whenever he was near, I would find myself noticing those hazel eyes of his that were once locked on me began averting elsewhere. Seeing each other every week turned into him making excuses to be away from me for three weeks until school came near and facing me would be inevitable for him. Then, just a week before my senior year began, he hit me with what I had been warned by my friends was coming but I was too in denial to accept.
He dumped me.
Oh, but he didn’t do it in person, I wasn’t worthy of that. He did so by having me travel to a play of his downtown one hot day in August after deliberately avoiding me for three weeks, hardly acknowledging my existence by having me sit on the sidelines with a depressed face as he took pictures with other women, then sending me home while I was in tears alone in the middle of the night by myself on the train. When I finally obtained the balls to confront him about this on Facebook, since he refused to answer my calls to even at least make sure I was home safe, he made it as though everything was my fault and for a long time I would believe it. I was too shy and boring, he said. He wanted a girl who he could have fun with and didn’t cling onto him all the time because she was too socially awkward to stand on her own two feet. After he was done with his side of why he was leaving me, he decided he had no time to hear what I had to say. He simply left me on seen and changed his relationship status to single, and that was that.
For him, anyway. For me, it was devastating. My first relationship came to an end. The one person that made me genuinely happy for the first time in my life left me with nothing but a broken heart. The week following the breakup was full of starving myself because my stomach ached at the sight of food, and being awake until five in the morning with tears in my eyes as I obsessively stalked his Facebook in hopes of signs of closure and that he missed me.Instead I found him writing about the importance of moving on in life, and dedicating that one Fall Out Boy song where they sing in the chorus, “I don’t blame you for being you, but you can’t blame me for hating it…”, to me. I was convinced that he truly had forgotten me and that five months together meant nothing to him. All the kisses, laughter, and I love you’s meant nothing because I was not interesting or sociable enough for him.
When senior year began, I decided to wipe away those tears and put on a bold demeanor to prove to him that I didn’t need him. Despite the fact that I was still talking in my sleep about him, and resisting the urge to both slap him in the face and beg for him back, I still held my own when facing him in the halls as we walked passed each other as if we never met. That is how it was until one day in the cafeteria, three weeks into the school year, his eyes were planted on me as I talked and laughed away with new friends I made. He then approached me, hugged me, and asked me how I was. In his face, I kept my cool. For the rest of the day, I obsessed over that one interaction wondering if it meant anything. I should not have wanted him back after he abruptly dumped me and expected me to move on, but I didn’t care. All I knew was that he made me happy once, maybe he could again and we could put the horrendous break-up behind us. Having a good heart makes you believe that everyone else does.
That false sense of hope clung onto me that whole senior year. When he and I would have brief exchanges in the hallways or at lunch, the hope would remain. When I dated someone else briefly while I still had him on my mind, and he walked around sulking at the sight of me in the arms of another, hope would remain. When he apologized for hurting me after seeing me sulk around the school for weeks contemplating suicide just around the time I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, hope would remain. Even when he would call me boring, or when he teamed up with his ex to bully me for moving on to another guy, or when he mocked my weight to other people, I still clung onto hope. When I saw him, I saw not the guy who hurt me, but rather the boy with the hazel eyes who admired me and treated me with such respect the year before.
Then came my last day of high school, quite possibly the last day I would ever see his face again. The day where I would pour out my feelings and determine whether or not we would rekindle our old flame.
Oh silly, naive, Lisa. If only you would accept that once a flame is burned out, there is no way of reviving it. You can create a new flame, but it will not be the same. That is exactly what happened with him and I. He got me alone, and apologized to me for everything he put me through. This is the one thing I will always give him props for; giving me the closure I needed to hear to fully move on. Oh sure, I made a fool of myself by pouring out how I felt about him and how I wanted him back. I also kissed him, but the kiss was everything I needed to tell me that whatever was left between us had died out. When I kissed him, I no longer felt my heart skip a beat but rather emptiness. I no longer felt like I was locking lips with someone I loved, but rather someone who had betrayed me, and left me with little explanation. No matter how hard I tried, I could not relive the past and undo the immense hurt he caused me. He was not that sweet boy I dated a year earlier who cared about me deeply and made me feel valuable, but rather someone who dumped me on Facebook and took six months to fully grasp what he did wrong. Nothing was going to change that.
That was my closure. That was what got me to move on. There was also his confession that he was “crazy,” which made little sense to me until the next year where events took place in which I will not write of. Despite the lack of using his name, what had happened was something I will not disclose out of respect of him and everyone involved in the incident. I will say that when I learned of what happened, everything came together and the asinine reasons he gave me for leaving was merely an excuse to let me go for my own safety. He wanted to protect me from himself. That was enough to allow me to gain all the closure I needed to fully move on and accept that he and I just could not be together under certain circumstances.
I would come to learn, however, that sometimes you do not have the luxury of receiving closure from the person. Sometimes people will just do you dirty, and then leave you to pick up the pieces yourself. There is nothing you can do in that situation, but cope with the pain yourself until you can fully move on. You also will have to learn to live without closure, and instead accept that the person did what they did because they are a remorseless piece of shit. More on that in chapter 2.