Friday, March 2, 2012

Real Life: Living with Anxiety

I’ve been looking forward to this post for a while now. I feel that in order to be the best blogger you can, one should rely on one basic concept: honesty. Share the NAKED truth. So accompanying this post are some self-portrait photos I took that align with that theme; thus I am not all dolled up like usual in these photos. No makeup. Hair up. Pajamas on. And as I’ve said before, I feel strongly about writing what is real, true, and sometimes not as attractive. (I totally think I’m attractive, haha. That’s NOT what I’m getting at.) These photos are just a reflection on sharing the realist in me. The truth in me, and not just the pretty outfits and fun crafting projects I do.

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So, I have a severe anxiety disorder.

I was 18 years old and had no idea what was going on around me. I had a really sweet boyfriend at the time, who was touring with his band across the country. This is when it really started: I would sit with my cell phone in hand and wait for a text or call. Play with the screen, constantly turning it on and off. If nothing happened when I wanted it to, I would often have a mini-panic attack. And looking back now, I think this was a reaction to how I had been previously treated by my ex, Tony, who was a bit on the emotionally abusive side and had also cheated on me the summer before college. So this was how my disorder really showed its ugly head. After breaking up with that sweet band-boyfriend of mine, because I couldn’t deal with the anxiety, I ended up on the floor in my dad’s home office, hysterically sobbing in fetal position, screaming that I wanted to die and had nothing to live for. A very scary moment for my parents, I can imagine.

As time passed, my anxiety would flair more often and it became very prevalent in my daily life. I had, indeed, always struggled with anxiety but never at this level. It had ballooned into this massive thing that I no longer had control over. I was put on medication and sent back to my high school therapist.

My heart would throb. I wouldn’t be able to focus, but I would micro-focus on one thing, like a text message or a boy that I had a crush on. I would cry A LOT, and struggled with depression along with it.

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But after several years of figuring out my disorder, I started to really grasp and understand it. With the help of medication and hours upon hours of therapy, I cultivated coping skills and ways to deal with my anxiety in the moment. It was a beautiful thing, and I started to finally feel like myself again. I smiled more and laughed more.

At the age of 20, I was able to move out and become financially independent (with some help here and there from the parental unit, of course.) I got a job as an administrative assistant and decided to start on finishing my bachelors.

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Three years later, I am a different woman. I don’t even recognize who I was last year, let alone three, four, five years ago. I know that anxiety it normal, and many people deal with this disorder. It is extremely difficult to see people go through what I have, because I understand how trapped they feel. When you have severe anxiety, you feel like you are in a little cage in your head and you’re locked in and will never get out. You’re scared and out of control.

But my friends, you can conquer this. It may not be as easy as you want it to be, and it may very well take a while to get out of your head so much, but the best thing you can do for yourself is not sit in your room alone and think and ponder and wonder “what if.” Seek help. Talk to your loved ones. Tell them that this is hard, and that maybe you don’t even really understand how your brain is working and why this is happening. Seek therapy. Don’t just go to medication for a quick fix, because you need tools to work with the meds.

And in the end, with a lot of hard work, you will be set free. I can promise you that.

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9 comments:

Kate said...

This is a really brave post. It sounds like you've come such a long way! Even though I don't have the disorder you describe, I can still relate to the feelings you describe. It must have been a really dark time for you. I'm glad to hear that you are doing so much better!

Erika @ rouge + whimsy said...

emily-
what a beautiful honest post!
as someone diagnosed with panic disorder, i know the trapped and helpless feeling anxiety attacks bring.

i missed nearly half of my sixth grade year as I dealt with crippling panic attacks. 11 years later, it's still something that comes up and it's been a wild ride of ups and downs of major struggles and major successes.

with that said, my struggle with this is a part of what makes me WHO i am.

i am on medication and have been for 10 years. and even then it's something i struggle with and have had lots of help over the years. what people don't realize is that MANY of us struggle with it and sometimes when we're honest, we find an amazing support group!

best of luck to you!

danielle and dinosaur toes said...

i love posts where people are completely honest and don't keep up the facade they believe others want to see. i'm so glad that you've become stronger than your anxiety! you're a beautiful person :)

The Braided Bandit said...

Love the idea of the naked truth in a post! Thanks so much for sharing your story! The honesty was really refreshing and inspiring.

Sarah Stright said...

This is a wonderful post. Though I don't suffer from anxiety it was amazing to read about your journey and I have no doubt that you've helped others just by being honest.
Sarah
www.comingunstitched.com

Little Tree Vintage said...

it's a beautiful thing to be honest with other people, and even though it makes you vulnerable, it also makes people love you even more! i'm so glad that you have gotten a better handle on your anxiety, i've been there and I know how hard it can be. This was a great post, well done.

christen + shane said...

Hi, Emily! This is my first time visiting your blog, and to be totally honest, I was really pleasantly surprised to find this heartfelt post. You're right - honest bloggers are the greatest bloggers, and while nobody wants to read about peoples' problems all the time, it's really sincere and nice to give a little 'real-ness' among all the outfit posts & DIY projects. I'm glad you've conquered this aspect of your life, and I wish you the best!

<3 christen @ from the woods :)

Dearest Lou said...

Hey Emily!

I just wanted to let you know I tagged you in this eleven question post that has been going around blogger the last couple of weeks (:

http://dearest-lou.blogspot.com/2012/03/eleven-questions.html

Jane HyunJoo Lee said...

Emily! Thank you for sharing your personal story!
Your story touched my heart today!

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