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.

 

“Feeling on the Verge”

A lot of times whenever I sit down and talk to my therapist I often at times can reflect and tell her about the moments where I had a breakdown, often telling her that I could “Just tell that I was on the verge”

But how does one explain these feelings?

On the verge is feeling as though you are standing on the edge of a cliff, half of your foot over the edge already – the arches and your heels remaining on stable cement while your toes hang right over. It is standing there and knowing that one simple gush of wind will send you over.

It is feeling the tears well up in the backs of your eyelids and constantly pushing them back – but also knowing that if one person says the wrong thing that it will release the tears.

It is a constant burden on your chest with an accelerated heart rate that beats almost too quickly against your chest wall.

It is sweaty palms – always.

It is feeling the quickened heart rate, the sweaty palms, and it is the burden on your chest – but you are also feeling numb and the constant switching between the two of them.

It is feeling the work you have to do physically piling on top of you – and you feeling as though that no amount of time in the world could get it done and knowing that one more paper is going to push you over the edge.

It is the feeling of begging something to happen, so you could just get over with it already.

Being on the verge means that you can feel yourself almost to the point of no return. On the verge it is the difference between crying and being okay. Being on the verge is knowing you just need one final push to send you spiraling. Sometimes it can feel as the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Some of us live our daily lives on the verge – almost waiting for that straw or for that gush of wind to send us over.

While we can be on the verge, we also know how it feels to come back down and to recover from our falls. That is what is most important to try to remember.

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.

A New Calendar Year and Expectations

The beginning of 2018 started with a strong mentality. I was convinced that a new calendar year equaled out to a new me. I told myself that it was going to be the best year yet and that this was my year, that this year would top everything else – and definitely not be like all the other ones.

Who doesn’t begin every new year with this mentality though?

2018 began great – I was involved in my first serious relationship and was happy in it, I was back into dancing, and I had started a new semester at college. A bad blow hit our family whenever my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and would have surgery and radiation to get rid of it.

Due to the stressors of life, I had slacked on getting my college loan situation figured out and before I knew it – I was getting emails essentially telling me I was taken off all rosters until I paid tuition or got a loan. Every place I attempted to get a loan from rejected me and my parents when they tried to co-sign. Within the week a professor told me that I could no longer sit in on their class, despite knowing my situation.

I wound up dropping my minor which was computer science shortly after those first few weeks at school due to the way that particular professor treated me.

That rattled my second semester quite terribly – after I got my loans figured out, I dropped the class with said professor and that wound up taking me down to just 12 credits, barely reaching the required amount of credits to remain full time.

It was also around this time that I became obsessed with the way I looked and began to overwork myself in an attempt to lose weight and have a better body. I pushed myself so hard that I wound up in the hospital – essentially pulling the muscles and enflaming the tissues within my chest wall. This ‘injury’ set me back not only in my workout journey but also affected my daily life for a long while.

Around this time my mental stability began to dip and I returned to therapy after not going for several months. It was the first time in a long time that I felt as though I really needed to return and talk to somebody and for a while it helped me.

My mother had her surgery which was successful, she began radiation, I performed in my performance at my old dance studio, I was still happily in a relationship, and eventually I scraped by in my second semester of college.

Most notably, with my depression and anxiety, I do not get seasonal depression in the winter months like a large majority of people do. I have noticed that I get my most depressed come summer months and I have never been able to figure out why. I cannot seem to grasp if it is the large quantities of ‘free time’ which gives me too much time to think or if it is because I work so much that I push my mental and physical strengths too far.

My summer began with a lot of concerts and a lot of work. I had seen the big names such as Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Weezer, and The Pixies. Come July I had met my favorite Youtubers, Dan and Phil, and began to gear up for the last year of Warped Tour – and many more concerts to follow that.

This was around the time that my anxiety began to come back and the things that were not big worries for me began to return. I found myself not wanting to go into convenience stores and I found myself retracting and not wanting to leave my home. I stopped going to my boyfriends’ house and generally stopped socializing. I began to work more and more and was working two jobs at the time. On top of going to concerts near weekly, juggling a relationship, and two jobs, I quickly overworked myself to the point of exhaustion and wound up missing work due to overworking myself into exhaustion.

The months of July and August have mainly been repressed. I was still working and enjoying life, but my mental state was at the worst it had ever been. I can remember going to concerts – laughing, smiling, having a great time, just to get home and cry myself to sleep for reasons that I did not understand or comprehend.

What started off as weekly therapy appointments turned into considering going twice a week which eventually turned into several visits to the psychiatrist – along with several shifts in medications.

After an extremely life changing week or so, I began to change near the end of August. I returned to both of my jobs, began to consider teaching dance at my old studio (and getting hired), and I got to start up my third semester with a schedule where I only went on Tuesday and Thursday.

In September I had turned twenty surrounded by my family. I spent a nice day shopping and at lunch with my mother, came home, and then had a nice dinner with my entire family. The following Friday my best friends and I got to enjoy a nice night out. A night where I was no longer stressed, I was carefree, and this was the night where tings took a dramatic turn – and even though I didn’t know it at the time, it was for the better.

October was whenever I began a true transformation. I was attending therapy by the weekly. I began to talk to those I hadn’t in a long time. I began to stabilize the relationships I had neglected for many months and essentially returned to a form of normalcy and general happiness.

I was dancing like I used to in high school and was doing another performance. I now not only had my family, but my dance family as well. I began to teach at my dance studio – falling in love with my little children more and more every day.

After our performance in November, I made it through midterms, and I got to enjoy Thanksgiving in Maryland with my family. I got to go back home and work Black Friday with my favorite retail team. November was filled with family and friends – all that I could have ever asked for.

December began preparations for Christmas. By December 14th I had finished my third semester of college – with perfect attendance for my 8AM class. I finished with all A’s and B’s – a new accomplishment. By the end of finals I had started at a new job, my third job, and already loved it.

In December I got to build relationships with unexpected people and got to spend time with those people. I began to feel myself opening up more and becoming less guarded and less anxious as time went by.

Now, it is the end of December.

I am ready to move on from my worst year, 2018, but I am also grateful for all that it taught me and all the things and relationships that came out of it.

2018 was by far my most heartbreaking year filled with confusion, sadness, anxiety, and stress.  It, of course, was filled with heartbreak and loss as well.

I sometimes choose to look at the negatives of 2018 and how horrible it was – breakups, my mothers diagnosis, psychiatrist appointments, therapist appointments, hospital visits, etc.

Instead I can focus on the two most important lessons that 2018 has taught me.

In this year I have ultimately learned how I will allow myself to be treated (and when to recognize if and when someone oversteps my boundaries), and I have learned that even in the most heartbreaking of moments – so much more can come out of it.

I am leaving 2018 with stable relationships. I am leaving 2018 healthy and smiling.

In the year of 2019 I would like to continue the relationships I have made with others and build on them. I would like to stay positive and truly happy – not just to front it for social media and family. I expect to continue to know and understand my self worth – and to realize whenever people cross my boundaries. I expect to recognize red flags and to not brush past them continuously in hopes that people will change.

Most importantly, I expect myself to remain strong and to remind myself of who deserves to be in my life – and to be okay with letting go of those who no longer aid in my happiness.

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.

I’m tired.

Her face appears beautiful on the outside. Her eyebrows lifted in all the right ways and the white eyes hadow in the corners of her eyes make her appear to be awake and alert.  Her mouth painted into a smile with bright lipstick in all the right places.
She appears to be the girl next door and the beautiful creatures that you see everywhere you look. From magazines to television.
She’s tired from the face she wears. Eventually it comes off, whether it be from makeup wipes or from showering, viciously wiping away the makeup that taints her face. When she sleeps and her eyebrows are no longer forced and pressed together from concentration and stress.
Whenever she wiped off a happy face you see her eyebrows are no longer lifted and perfect. Rather they are barely there, with bald patches in the middle from over plucking them. The $58 full coverage foundation is removed and the bags and circles are prevalent there.
She removes her high heels and clothes that make her feel somewhat confident and from there she slips on the extra large t-shirt that she basically drowns in and that she’s worn to bed the past week.
Her most relaxed comes from being in bed, not moving, and being under four to five layers of blankets.
Only to get hot in the middle of the night and rip them off anyways, but the comfort is there and it helps her not stay warm but to give her the comfort that is needed when there are not open arms to fall into each night.
She sleeps to escape her reality. Where her reality is no longer an existence, but a distant thought. When she sleeps, worries are no longer available to think about, and her mind runs as far as it can take her. Her mind is at ease and runs far away to a dream estate, where anxiety and depression no longer exist.

She doesn’t sleep because she’s lazy. But because she paints a face on every day that isn’t hers and doesn’t belong to her.

She sleeps to escape it. To put her mind at rest.

She sleeps because she’s exhausted from anxiety clutching onto her body like a leech, sucking out all remaining energy.

The energy not spent giving, bending over backwards, working, and going out, is sucked into an endless stomach of the Leech that pulls out every bit of normalcy that remains.

She feels drained. Emotionally and physically. Her body may not hurt and crumple over with exhaustion but one thing is for certain, she is exhausted. Sleep is her escape.

“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.