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.

 

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;

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.