What I’ve learned

In a year of blogging I’ve learned that writing is a great stress relief for me. In a year of blogging I’ve learned that you can be strong and independent – but at the same time still be weighed down by a controlling and toxic relationship. I’ve learned that some things just aren’t worth posting about – that some victories and frustrations are just better left unsaid. I’ve learned that keeping quiet is sometimes the best response you can have.

I haven’t been the most consistent when it comes to posting on this blog. I’ve had bursts of inspiration – so much so that I created an instagram page for this blog. I’d feel this excitement – only to be weighed down by exhaustion after I smacked into the wall of writers block. Today my WordPress membership has been renewed for an entire year.

I am uncertain as to where my future with aberrations lies – but I know you will be there with me.

It’s okay to not be okay

She has the tough girl demeanor

She hides her emotions well

For there is never a bad mood that can’t be hidden away

With some makeup or a swipe of a tear

She stays, cloaked in strength and happiness

For tears, she feels,

Are a sign of weakness

Her strength is embedded into her bones,

Exhausting herself with the weight she carries

On weakened and skinny shoulders.

Maybe, someday, she will learn

That it’s okay to not be okay.

Me Minus Anxiety – Who Am I, Really?

What I wouldn’t give to be normal. To live in that bubble, the reality of the naive.

What would my life look like without anxiety?

How much would be different?

What would change?

This is a question I have asked myself time and time again. However, I can never come to a real answer.

Maybe I would have more friends, maybe I would go out more, and maybe I wouldn’t be afraid to speak in public. Maybe my schedule would be filled with less appointments with different doctors for different reasons. Maybe my grades would be better, and I wouldn’t stress myself out before exams and maybe I wouldn’t pick my fingers until they are bloodied, gross, and running the risk of infection.  Maybe I wouldn’t sit in silence for hours on end – not knowing how to contribute to a conversation. Maybe the fear of making myself look dumb wouldn’t exist.

Back whenever I feared going into gas stations and before whenever I was scared of leaving my home, I would ask myself the same question and come up with nearly the same possibilities. Maybe I would’ve been able to walk into the store later at night to get the ice cream I was craving. Maybe I would’ve been fine to walk into the bank and do a cash deposit instead of waiting in the way longer line at the atm in my car.

I have struggled with anxiety since I was a little girl. It only came to a dramatic point whenever I was in high school. At that point in time I knew anxiety was apart of my identity. It was a character trait. It was a character flaw. I related to the quote that said, “I am anxiety, fear, and panic”.

So, yes, anxiety has been in my life for a long time. I was an anxious seven-year-old, an even more anxious high school student, and expected it to sort of just disappear in college. If it was in my life for so long and apart of my identity for so long… who am I without it?

I have come to realize now – anxiety is not apart of my identity. Yes, I am a college student and yes I have severe anxiety.

Because, after all, my blog posts are mainly about anxiety. My very first blog post ever is titled “The A word”, where I then begin to describe what anxiety is and what an aberration is.

Who am I though?

I’m a full-time student and I work three jobs that I love. I am an avid concert goer. I am a movie guru. I am someone that has a small quantity of true friends – those that I don’t see often. I am a girl who has a lot of internet friends and spends too much time on YouTube. I love nerdy things and also love makeup. I love sitting and gaming. I am a hard worker – even with my anxiety flaring up. I am honest and compassionate – with the tendency to put everyone’s needs before my own. Sometimes I care too much about what others think and other times I care too little.

I am not anxiety and I am not panic. My life story is not going to go down as the girl with anxiety.

Anxiety does live within me and I have known her well. Anxiety can sometimes be an extension of my personality – but it will never describe me. At the end of the day I am still the busy, hard working, full time student, who also loves to dance, go to concerts, meet like minded people, and be free spirited.

 

Your Nerves are not the Same as My Anxiety

“Yeah, I get anxiety sometimes before job interviews and stuff, it sucks!”

“Everyone gets a little anxious sometimes!”

“Omg, seeing my ex totally gives me panic attacks lol.”

The term anxiety is often at times thrown about carelessly and almost unknowingly to those that do not understand what it is like to live with it on the daily.

What the “anxiety” to an average person feels like would most likely be as follows:

  • The nerves that twist at your stomach and almost make you feel as though you are going to throw up.
  • The moments where it feels as though your heart picks up several beats a minute.
  • Sweaty palms before an interview.
  • The feeling as though you cannot sit down or keep still.
  • An uneasy mind
  • A disturbed sleep cycle.

These are just to name a few of the things that take place before a big presentation, an interview, a first date, and so on. After it is over though, you are most likely not going to be feeling these symptoms again until the next big event that takes place, until the next presentation, until the next first date, etc.

This is what those of us with anxiety disorder feel every single day – times ten.

Now while I do not want to make it seem as though I am invalidating people that have very real and very scary symptoms of nerves and anxiety, I do find it hard to feel sympathy for those that get nervous every once and awhile and pass it off as anxiety.

For many years, I was getting nauseous on the daily. No matter what I ate – whether it was vegetables, gluten free foods, greasy foods, etc. – I was getting sick to the point of almost vomiting. Sometimes it didn’t even matter if I ate five minutes ago or two hours ago, almost every night I felt as though I was going to throw up everything in my stomach.  After several visits to GI specialists, a few scopes, scans of my gallbladder, food journals, and other forms of tests – they could not find anything wrong with me.

It was only after therapy that my stomach issues slowly dissipated far into the past – to the point that I sometimes forget about the period of 3 to 4 years that I spent feeling nauseated.

I had no idea that anxiety could affect the body to that degree and that badly.

In my worst anxiety times I would pick my fingers so badly to the point that I would have to wear socks on my hands to stop picking. Wearing nail polish never helped as it was another thing for me to pick and peel off of my nails. It would get even worse if it was finals week or if report cards were about to come out.

At my worst point, I couldn’t go into gas stations or convenience stores – my irrational anxiety brain telling me that there would be a shooting or robbery if I went in. You could forget the chances of me going into movie theaters, too. It got so bad that everywhere was dangerous to me – from gas stations to a Subway sandwich shop.  I wanted to be placed near the exits at restaurants so that I could run out the door if something were to happen and at every concert, I went to I had several plans of escape if a threat were to enter.

That was the way my anxiety brain worked. I knew that at every concert I went to that every person got checked by security, their bags were checked, and they were patted down – but my anxiety and fight or flight brains were confused by the amount of fear that I placed into my body. Everybody was a suspect and no place was safe.

This was how I lived for a very long time and still have the tendencies to get “sketched out” in situations that I am not used to.

I for many years struggled – and struggled terribly with anxiety. I wasn’t going out with friends, I was a home body to an unnatural sense,  I was having anxiety attacks weekly, and I was literally making myself sick with anxiety.

I overcame a lot of struggles to get where I am now.

So yes, the quickened heart rate, sweaty palms, the tendency to bite your fingers, and your uneven breaths are all normal to feel before events like tests, presentations, job interviews, exams, etc. Your nerves are not anxiety.

In a world where mental disorders such as Bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety are “aesthetically pleasing” for a Tumblr layout or a funny tweet, it is hard to take mental illness seriously.

It is important that we note that anxiety, true anxiety, is not the same as feeling nervous for an hour or two (or even a day) once in a while.

Anxiety is very real and very scary but also should not be confused with every day nerves.

Why it is Okay to be Selfish

The word selfish is typically one that is looked down upon and looked at in a negative light. Not one person likes to be described with the adjective of selfish, but ultimately, in the world of mental illness and health – it is an adjective that is one of the most important things to be.

There are a lot of people that suffer with a form of mental illness, whether it be anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, ptsd, or so on. Some people have it in the slightest forms while others suffer in a more extreme way.

Those that suffer are typically those that you do not expect as mental illness can affect anyone – it does not matter your age, race, or gender.

Most people, like myself, give and bend over backwards for everyone and anyone – often at times putting others peoples needs before their own. So much so that they wind up shoveling emotions and feelings underneath almost convincing themselves that the needs and wants of others are more important than their own. Often at times they will put their needs on the back burner, convincing themselves that the needs of someone like a friend is most important, more important than their own emotions and feelings.
This leads to the burial of emotions and stress that eventually boil up – ready to be set off by the most minuscule things.

Not only does the selflessness of mental health mask our own feelings, it also is extremely exhausting. Some of us will hold ourselves to an insane number ,of standards when it comes to being there for others. We are not catering to our needs but to the needs of others and ultimately draining the energy needed to keep ourselves afloat.
I read somewhere once that the development of mental illness can also contribute to a development of a selfish personality.

Do I consider myself selfish? At times. Am I open about my need to be selfish? Always.

For those of us that have mental illnesses we need to constantly be aware of our wants and needs as humans due to the smallest change causing what could be a downward spiral.

Not only do we need to be aware of our bodies, but our mood as well.

Sleeping and eating on a regular schedule are vital to keeping our mood as stable as possible whenever it comes to self care.

For example, in mental illnesses such as Bipolar Disorder, tracking your mood is essential in staying up on it. It is noticing the most minute of changes in mood. It is essential to notice the changes so that those who are medicated can report it to a psychiatrist which may require change in medications as soon as possible.

You must be extremely aware, not only in your alone time, but when with other humans while being social.

Is my speech slurring due to talking too quickly? Are my conversations bouncing from place to place constantly due to my inability to focus on one topic? Are my responses appropriate? Is this how I act on the daily?

We must be in constant awareness of our mood and how we are feeling, why we are feeling, and to try to judge how long we will be in this state of feeling.

Mental health may also come with a selfish behavior, but that is okay.

I am not telling you to only look out for yourself and no one else, and to push people around for your own advantages – being selfish does not always have to be that negative.
So be selfish. For those that know you and love you – they will understand your need to be selfish and will be there to support you and will still be there whenever you come back.

2018 Review – In Spotify Playlists

Music has forever been my time capsule to take me back into time in terms of memories and moments that are most important to me.

Certain music can take me back to things like a car ride home with friends while others can take me back to making it through my senior year of high school as an outcast.

One morning when I woke up and began to get ready for my commute to school, I saw that Spotify had created a brand new playlist for me that was being recommended on my homepage.

Your Top Songs 2018

Instantly I was intrigued. I wanted to know what songs I listened to the most this year, seeing as my rotation was constantly changing with my music tastes for several months now. I was interested to see if Spotify could pick up on the songs that always made it back into my commute playlists and if they knew what songs seemed to be my favorites.

I found myself laughing at a few song titles such as those that belonged to Youtubers like Tana Mongeau and Gabbie Hanna, songs that I listened to ironically (enough to end up on the Spotify list haha).

I was enjoying the laughter and memories that came along with artists and songs by Rick Astley, Stacked Like Pancakes, Queen, and music from movies like Moana and Beauty and the Beast. I was taken back to all the good and pure moments of 2018. Songs that reminded me of singing in the dressing rooms before a performance and songs that took me back to car rides and singing with my sister.

That was whenever I heard the low whistles of “Asleep” by The Smiths that took me back to my lowest moments.

Immediately I was taken back to sitting in my bathtub – listening to that song during a depressive episode. I knew that the song would make me feel worse and more upset – but I hit the loop button so that it could play repeatedly without me needing to hit the back button.

There was a large chunk of me that wanted to hit the next button in that moment, maybe move onto a happy song from Moana to make me sing and dance in my seat as I drove to class.

I felt as though I was taken back in time and like I was back to sitting in lukewarm water, uncertain as to why exactly I felt so down.

Then there was “The Night We Met” by Lord Huron.

That song already had an emotional place in my heart due to the appearance of the song in 13 Reasons Why. It was introduced to me my senior year of high school and I can remember listening to it to get through it to the best of my ability.

The song followed me through high school, summer, my first year of college, and through my relationships.

It was a song that was forgotten about until the month of June and July where it was played, sang, and danced to on repeat. After July it fell back out of my cycle and had completely been forgotten about – it hurt too much to listen to and carried too many memories of my mental states and relationships beginning to take a major decline for the worst.

The vastly different types of music on my Spotify playlist was a great wrap up an example of how the year of 2018 went for me.

Some moments were pure and filled with laughter and smiles. Music such as Teenagers (My Chemical Romance), 21st century Liability (Yungblud), and You’re Welcome (Moana) come to mind for these songs. Songs that played as I sang to my nephew as I visited him and my sister in Maryland,  songs that were performed in the hot warped tour heat, and songs that I could jam out to in my car while driving to work and school.

The other moments were better suited for songs like “Asleep” (The Smiths), “The Night We Met” (Lord Huron), and Pictures of You (The Cure).

A large portion of 2018 can be explained by my sadder songs, where lyrics such as “Sing me to sleep, I’m tired and I want to go to bed”, and “Crying for the death of your heart” seem to fit better in my narrative than other ‘happier’ lyrics.

2018 was the worst year of my life thus far.

My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, I struggled with major depressive disorder, I went spiraling backwards in all the steps I took towards getting better in the world of anxiety, my grades suffered, I was overworking myself in an attempt to distract myself from the amount of depression I was dealing with, I went through a horrible breakup, and I felt as though I lost a lot of myself for several months.

2018 was also my best year.

It was a year of self-discovery, a year of meeting new people that were like me and accepted me (and didn’t judge me for my short comings), I stood my ground and stood up for myself many times, I fell down ( a lot )  and got up each time, and I learned what I will and will not tolerate in terms of my self-worth.

2018 had been filled with way more downs than it was filled with ups, but I managed to get through it. Some moments and months I was down longer than others – but here I stand.

-N;KK;

A Change in Seasons

Sometimes a change in season and motivation is what is needed to realize what is really needed for yourself as a human being.

I started this blog as a way to normalize anxiety, depression, and the feelings of darkness that everyone experiences but nobody wants to talk about.

I wanted to be that platform for those who felt isolated, alone, and as though they were the only ones that were experiencing awful feelings that came along with anxiety.

I still want to be that person and that has always been my goal as a someone who is very open with her mental health struggles. I do not hide behind fake smiles and personas. I do not post on social media happy faces and laughter whenever I am feeling at my lowest of lows.

From February to September I was suffering in ways that I cannot even begin to understand and I believe my brain has repressed the worst of it for my own safety. I don’t remember being sad… I remember struggling, but the rest is a blur. I remember specific times where I broke down as a person and anxiety and crippling depression had its arms wrapped so tightly around me – but I don’t remember being unhappy for so long and for so many consistent days and weeks.

Now that I have grown and reflected, I have come to the realization that I am now stronger than I ever was before and the broken persona I had grown into all those months ago is beginning to repair itself and be built back up into an independent and strong woman again.

I no longer feel a need or a desire to place myself in such a darkened mind space in order to force words out of my brain onto paper for the sake of a blog post. I am not in the same mindset I was in this time yesterday, let alone this time in August or this time two months before that.

This original post was going to be about seasonal depression and when it hits people and how no one realizes it unless they deal with it first hand through either themselves or family members or friends, but here I am now.

I still want this blog to be about finding normality in the unusual. I want to help people and help them feel more normal but in all of this I have tried to fit in the mold of normal blogs that I see on the daily. My brain was riddled with blogs about ‘top five things that help anxiety’ and ‘how to find happiness in day to day life’ and the desire to fit into a steady theme. I felt as if my blog was scattered and jumped from point a to point b with some fiction writing in between.

I felt insecure, I felt scared that others would think that my thoughts and posts were too scattered which resulted in too many scrapped pieces to count.

Today while reflecting I realized that somewhere along the lines of insecurities, the name of my blog has been forgotten about

Aberrations.

A departure from what is normal, usual, or expected, typically one that is unwelcome.

A characteristic that deviates from the normal type.

From here on out, I am not going to place myself in a negative mind space to write encouraging words the layout of other anxiety blogs. I am not going to compare myself to other pages and posts. I am not going to force myself into a mold I was meant to stand out from.

If I want to post about anxiety one day, post a piece of fiction the next,  and go back to personal stories, then I am going to do so.

Those who are like me, who are an aberration, are those that will understand and come along on a new journey with me.

I am not normal nor will I pretend to be for the sake of a steady and flowing blog page.

Maybe one day I will find the correct flow, but that day is not today.

N;kk;

Finding Light Again

Words have not come easy these past few weeks.

I began to fear that I had spent money for a blogging platform, to write three articles, and to never use it again.

So I tried to force writing, any sort of writing, to just put out into the world again to make myself feel complete in some aspect.

No matter how hard I’ve tried to write, to pull from anything, nothing came out.

Everything felt so forced and nothing was fitting right, nothing was even scratching the surface of what I had to say. What I’ve experienced in these past few weeks. So I will pick up from one of the most recent stories I can share that spread a positive light on my life in ways that are unexplainable and I still think about to this day.

A few weeks ago we had a full reservation sheet in the dining room in which I worked at. No walk ins were permitted, and only the people that had reservations could be seated on this night.

That was when an older man and older woman walked up to the podium, asking to be seated. They told us they didn’t have reservations, but they were staying in the hotel that night. We told them that we were sorry, but it was reservations only, and sent them on their way.

Awhile later, while tending to my other tables I saw the same man from previously wander up to the hostess stand. After some discussion, our hostess walked up to me, explaining

“It’s his wifes birthday, can you take care of them?” she asks.

I looked over the four tables I already had to take care of, and even though I knew more reservations were going to come in, I nodded my head “Yeah, I can take them.” I say to her.

What I expected was to have a table like usual. I would take their drink orders, their food, bring them their food, ask if they wanted desert, send them on their way, and get them in and out as quickly as possible.

It is the unexpected that grace our lives in the best ways, as I would soon find out.

Whenever I walked up to them, they greeted me and told me their names after I told them mine. They told me again, that it was his wifes birthday, and I wished her happy birthday.

Right off the bat, I knew that they were talkers, and even though I was busy, even though I had a lot going on, I stayed to talk to them.

The conversation started off light, asking me where I went to school, what I wanted to do, the usual conversations that you typically get out of a waitress that gives you more time than their other tables.

Eventually they ate their food and told me how amazing everything was, continuing to thank me for getting them in even though we were busy.

In those few moments, they radiated such positivity, a positivity that I needed in these times and they didn’t even know it – and neither did I at the time.

Remembering the birthday, I offered the woman a complimentary dessert of her choosing, on the house due to the kindness that they displayed and how happy they made my heart feel again for the first time in a long time.

They asked me if they could move somewhere warmer, and I agreed, no longer caring about the amount of people coming into the dining room or waiting to be seated.

When we moved them, they began to speak about what desert they wanted and I promised them I would get them whatever they wanted and that I was going to make it special for them.

Ultimately, the woman decided on a desert, and her husband decided that he wanted to splurge and eat ice cream for the first time in over seven years.

Whenever I went back to pantry, I had them decorate the plate with a ‘Happy Birthday’ message on the plate, and came out candle and all. I served the dessert and together her husband and I sang happy birthday to her.

The room was dark and even though I hate singing, singing in front of others, none of it mattered anymore. The glow of the birthday candle meant so much more than a birthday anymore, it was an act of kindness and a sign of hope that things would get better for me.

After we sang happy birthday I left them alone for awhile and came to check on them, asking the man how he enjoyed his ice cream. They again told me that he hadn’t eaten anything like that in seven years. I asked him why, if there was any reason.

He opened up to me, saying that he was a cancer survivor and that today was actually the ten year anniversary of his surgery to remove his cancer, joking to me about how the anniversary happened to land on his wife’s birthday as well.

In those moments I felt everything about tonight slowly click into place and my hear swelled, tears forming in my eyes as I spoke to them about my mothers recent diagnosis and how she was also on a road to recovery, that it touched such a tender spot in my heart.

That was whenever we began talking, he got my address, and said he would send me and my mother a book for us to read.

I opened up to them about the struggles I was facing with my anxiety and my depression and how much their kind words truly meant to me, how the little things like this meant so much in my life, in ways they had no idea of even fathoming.

After they left, he had tipped me more than the price of the bill, and handed me an extra eight dollars in cash and told me to use it to buy my favorite dessert from where I worked.

Like that they were gone again, and before I knew it they had checked out before I got to see them again.

Little did I know, and little did they know, was that the following weeks would be some of the worst in my life.

In these weeks, I would struggle to find light again. I would struggle to find a purpose outside of the darkened tunnel I had been placed in. My fight was slowly wearing thin and it was the lowest point I had ever reached in the entirety of my life, after struggling with depression and anxiety for so many years.

In my darkness, in the tunnel, I found a light again and fought through.

Just yesterday, I came home to a package.

Two books for me to read, the other for my mother to read.

Getting Well Again.”

Today I walked into my bedroom to see another small letter. I am uncertain as to if I missed the letter in the first initial package, or if it arrived today.

I sat on the floor bawling my eyes out as I read the contents of the most thoughtful letter that had been sent my way in the longest time.

They talked to me about the things I had told them in passing. How I wanted to be an FBI agent, how they believed in me, the things that I had told them in confidence that they gave me advice on. Things I had even forgotten that I said to them were written on the contents of a card that meant so much to me.

The two strangers that I thought were just going to be another table that I had to deal with on a busy night, turned into an experience that I will forever cherish and be grateful for.

I am uncertain if they realize the impact of their actions or how badly I needed to read the words from them on days like this one, days where I feel both happy and sad. Overwhelmed and relaxed.

People come into your lives for a reason. That night I was busy, stressed from life outside of work with relationships, and I was anxious over what was to come. These people, who were not supposed to be there to begin with, happened to come in and I got the blessing to take care of them.

Whether you believe in a higher power or not, I like to believe some higher force was acting through them on the night that they came into my life, and left again, but left with such a strong impact that I now have the blessing to carry with me for the rest of my life.

As I was clearing their table, I found a note to me written on the back of a receipt.

“Thank you for your grace, humbleness, and sense of humor.”

This receipt I now carry in my waitressing book, to see and be reminded of the people that made such a positive influence on my life when it was most needed.

As I sit with their cards, letters, and book sitting around me, I am reminded of the love that radiates from people.

There is a lot of good in the world and even though it is hard to see, it comes out when most needed and most unexpected. A lot of time, the bad, the negative, the hurt, and the ugly are seen and are brought to us head on, face to face. They wear us down, they tug at us until we have no more fight, and the good in the world comes out in the strangest and unexpected ways.

The good is our guiding light to get us through the bad things and to guide us into a light worth living again.

Even if it is just a push or a nudge into the right direction, those are the movements and gestures that send us spiraling and leaping into things much greater than the darkness that has sucked you in time and time again and drug you down.

Step into the light, into a life worth living again.

Out of Darkness

tun·nel
noun
PHYSICS
(of a particle) pass through a potential barrier.

I grew up just south of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. I had always loved everything about the city. The electricity that seems to pulse through the open air, the people, the art, the theaters and concert venues you can just wander into, and let’s not forget the beautiful buildings that are all so beautifully unique, no building looking similar in any way shape or form. Back when I was a child, I always told myself I would move to Pittsburgh. Buy myself a dog and a nice bike to ride to and from classes and work,  I thought I had it all figured out. Back then, that was the life I wanted and my ultimate dream, it was to get to live the city life in the city that I had loved so much.

While the architecture  and the city skylines there are beautiful…my favorite part of Pittsburgh, or any city for that matter, had always been the tunnels.

In Pittsburgh, there is a tunnel that you most often than not sit in traffic to get into. The sights around the entrance are sores to your eyes, as you can only see the red of break lights, the cones that cover the edge of a runaway truck ramp, the ugly beaten signs, some with one flashing orange light as opposed to two, and the ugly brown outside of the tunnel itself.

Once you begin to move and can no longer see the sky around you, just the glow of the tunnel lights, everything is darker for a long moment of time.

The lights are florescent and the tunnel is darkened. Radios and phones no longer work once you get to the middle of the tunnel, and unless you have a CD in, your music comes to a halt and all you can hear is the echo of all the other cars roaring in the air around you.

On the insides of the tunnel, you are breaking free. The traffic is near in-existent, and your car just goes and goes.

You push on and you push forward, some vehicles moving faster than the other ones, and becoming blurs as they begin to pass you.

Sometimes, you move faster than the traffic in the other lane, and they too become a blur.

Then, it opens. The city air wraps around you and your vehicle.

You no longer see the ugly exterior of an open mountain and a dark, yet fluorescent, tunnel. You now see water, a brightened and illuminated yellow bridge that glows up against the sky. Your music picks up again and you can see all the skyscrapers that look as if they can kiss the clouds in the sky.

Some of the buildings look as if they are castles and some are large and intimidating, bigger than any man or woman to walk the earth. The city glows whether it is daytime or nighttime, and you can see twinkles of the lights of office buildings and of the stars in the skies.

The water is open and foreboding and even if the water isn’t always crystal clear you can still see the boats drifting in the open water, some spewing large amounts of white foam as they coast the water, others almost standing still that they move so slow.

Life, hardships, are much like the tunnel.

A stereotypical comparison, this I know.

Sometimes there is a cluster before the tunnel and you get moving smoother again, and your mind opens up to the beauty of life.

Sometimes, people are moving faster than you are, passing by you because maybe their tunnel is a little shorter than yours is.

Sometimes, you are moving faster than others, leaving them behind you as you move on and move forward.

Sometimes you hit traffic and come to a halt.

In those moments everything is at a standstill. The tunnels are dark and also foreboding. Things that bring you happiness such as music and service also leave your fingertips.

All you can sometimes see is red, red of taillights, and you no longer move forward.

Eventually, though, that tunnel opens up. You can see the sunlight. You can see the glows of the cities in those moments. You may be stuck in traffic, in darkness, for a long time. Eventually, your tunnel, your darkness, comes to an end and opens up into a huge world of opportunities.

The opportunities to feel on top of the world like all the skyscrapers your eyes can land on.

Sometimes, even after exiting the tunnel, your days can still be cloudy like the water underneath the bridges you cross. Sometimes you can still be at a standstill like the huge boats carrying large amounts of objects.

However, sometimes your days can be bright and vibrant. Your thoughts can be as clear as the water on a sunny day.

This is not the end, just a pause of darkness.

Always remember that eventually, your mind will leave its tunnel. It eventually will find light and beauty again.

-N;kk;

“Everyone has anxiety!”

Today, I was working the morning  shift at the historical hotel restaurant as I always do. The day I had was both short and long as I was working a split shift, so my first part of the day was done except for my last table of the morning which was a table with two gentlemen.

They started off as any normal table, a few questions about drink options, what came along with the meal package they had, the decision of what breakfast they will get, and what dressings they did or didn’t want.

It was two men that were very personable, one man told me how sweet I was, the other telling me how great I was and how amazing the food he just had was. The man hands me a crumbled up five dollar bill that I shove into my pocket as I begin to take the bill away from his table before he stops me.

“Why do you have one clear nail?” the man asks me, diverting my attention to my fingers.

Tucking his bill into my other apron pocket I spread out my fingers and present my hand to the man in front of me.

“It’s not a clear nail, it’s sparkly” I say to him, showing the fresh acrylics that were just put on yesterday afternoon.

I told him that I had just gotten them done at the salon and he was confused on the concept of not just painting your nails at home.

“These will last me about two weeks without chipping and they’re better quality.” I inform him, shifting slightly and nervously on my feet as he glances at me.

“Why do you have fake nails, then? Why pay all that money?” he asks me.

“Because I wanted to, not only that, but it helps me from picking at my fingers which I have the tendency to do.” I say to him with a nod of my head.

Of course, he asks me why I pick at my fingers.

To which I reply “I have really bad anxiety and when I’m nervous or whenever I’m bored I’ll pick at my fingers.” I say to him, giving him the short answer.

“What is anxiety?” he asks in return.

Uncomfortable and feeling like I have an interrogation light shining down on me, I swallow and begin to feel panic and anxiousness whirl around in my stomach. The familiar skip of my heart rate returns and my heart rate accelerates to the point that I can feel my blood thumping and pounding in the veins in my neck.

Uncertain of what to say I look away from him and twist the ring on my finger. “I just get really nervous about things and overthink a lot.” I explain to him.

“Well, I get nervous sometimes too, everyone has anxiety!” He informs me with a chuckle.

I nervously chuckle with him, taking his last bit of dirty dishes away from him. I left it at that and didn’t go into it fully with him.

I didn’t tell him that I am not just nervous before going up to a stranger to ask them if they want a refill, that I spend hours at a time before my shift, anxious over the thought of messing up their order, so much so that while at work I reread my notes and compare it to the order I punched in at least three times before sending it to the kitchen. I don’t tell him about how I pull up the same tab three different times, even after it is sent, to make sure I got it right.

I don’t tell him about how a lot of times I am exhausted, not because I worked two jobs yesterday and woke up at 5AM today, but because I spent the day before being social, taking care of tables, and selling merchandise at Hot Topic, and my mental capacity is low and I need to recharge.

I do not tell him that I get ready two hours early before I have to leave, leaving my house and giving myself over 30 minutes to get to my 10-15 minute drive to work, because I fear that something may happen, or “What if I need to stop and get gas?” and “What if my tires need air in them?” and “What if I were to break down?”

Only to get to work at 6:15 when my shift starts at 6:30 and I am alone in the kitchen until everyone else shows up for work, too.

I do not tell him that I pick at my fingers to the point that they are bleeding and sore – that I continue to pick and pull at the skin that resides on them until I get to the point of having to wrap band aids around each of my fingers and sleep with socks on my hands to give them time to heal.

I do not tell him that paying $45 to get my nails done is well worth it because the fake nails make it nearly impossible for me to pick at my fingers, giving the sore flesh time to heal and get better again.

Only for me to pull my nails off two weeks from now and fall back into picking at my skin.

I do not tell him about how big of a step it was for me to waitress, whenever I couldn’t even go into a gas station three years ago due to fear and anxiety.

I do not tell him about how I’ve been in therapy for three years, and how I go to therapy twice a week, and still manage to feel anxious and sad a lot of the times.

Instead, I smile and laugh at his poor attempt at a joke and thank him “so much!” for letting me wait on him, I tell him that I hope he has safe travels to his next vacation in Washington DC, and that I am very glad he enjoyed his breakfast.

In my head I cannot help but to be upset and put off by his comments and how his words made my disorder feel like they were no longer validated. I am uncertain as to why I cared so much about an older gentleman that I more than likely would never see again, ever, in my life. It still stung. I know that I cannot be upset, as he was probably coming from a good place and trying to be supportive and make me feel normal, but his attempts came off as insensitive and hurtful.

This isn’t the nervousness you experience before you go to your first job interview. This isn’t ‘first day of school’ nerves that pass once you get through the door of your new classroom. This isn’t  the fast beating heart you experience before you go on stage, to forget about it by the time you start moving in front of an audience.

Rather,

It is feeling a fast heart rate in your chest for reasons unbeknownst to you, it is knowing where every exit and entrance is, and which is closest to you if you need to run away. It is micromanaging everything in your head and leaving an hour early, just to arrive to the location you were headed and wait for 45 minutes, whilst picking at your fingers.

It is taking medications on the daily to feel normal, and getting withdrawal symptoms when you miss a dosage. It is getting up three to four times a night to make sure the doors and windows are all locked – even though you know its locked, but fear and ask yourself “What if it isn’t and someone breaks in – then it’ll be all my fault.”

It is constant nausea before and after you eat, and multiple trips to the doctors to get your stomach looked at – to come up empty handed and to leave you in a state of worry that something and everything is wrong with you and it’ll be too late before they catch it – whatever ‘it’ is that is wrong with you to make you sick all the time.

This is just scratching the surface of what goes through our minds on the daily.

Your nerves before a job interview, before the first day of school, or before approaching a crowd are not invalid. Rather, they are understandable.

However, you do not have anxiety just because you felt anxiety from time to time before big events that make you understandably nervous and on edge.

I would not wish what I go through on the daily onto anybody. I just wish that others whom do not experience it could validate my feelings and emotions just like I do when they tell me they had a bad day or they were nervous.