First off, I would like to remind everyone that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never break me” is complete bull for some people, myself included. This post is very personal to me and difficult to share for reasons that I hope you might understand by the end. It is the first step in what is likely to be a very long road to “recovery,” for lack of a better word. And I sincerely hope that you will take that into consideration before commenting. Please, be nice.
I don’t know when my anxiety reached the point of no return or why, if there ever was one singular reason, I began to feel this way. My best guess is that it was a culmination of events, tiny moments in time that, when compiled, amassed into a mountain of anxiety and fear.
There have been times when I have wondered if I will ever find my way over that mountain. The anxiety of never seeing the other side, of never knowing what “normal” feels like to others, has been at the forefront of my mind on a daily basis for almost as long as I can remember. I have to say “almost” because I do actually remember a time when I felt brave.
I spent weeks out of my summers as a teenager off on my own with people I had never met. And aside from the normal nerves of meeting new people, I was never afraid. I talked to people without feeling awkward or as though they automatically disliked me because I was a weirdo. I faced my fear of heights every time I got in the saddle and went horseback riding, despite the fact that I was always fearful of falling. I loved it so much that I worked my butt off mucking stalls and caring for the horses, just so I could get free riding lessons. Although it terrified me, I never let that fear hold me back.
As an adult, I would give anything just to have a little bit of that “recklessness” back instead of facing the scared, shell of a person that I sometimes see when I look in the mirror. Literally everything scares me or fills me with such anxiety, it becomes difficult to so much as breathe sometimes.
I am afraid of failure. I am afraid to let my friends and family down. If I don’t hear from someone for a few weeks, I assume that they hate me or are mad at me for some reason. Clearly I’ve done something wrong. I was a bad friend, daughter, or sister, and now they don’t love me anymore.
Just to clarify, I know that isn’t logical. But that’s the thing about anxiety and depression; they don’t give a crap what you think or what is logical.
It’s not logical for me to be so terrified of job interviews that I have panic attacks. Nor is it logical for me to be so afraid of people that I sometimes have difficult going out to lunch with Andrew’s family because I know there will be more than just a few people there and sometimes I really can’t handle it. It’s not logical. But it is my reality. It’s the world that I live in inside my mind.
I don’t want people to dislike me. I don’t want to let other people down or disappoint my family. I don’t want to say the wrong things, make a mistake, or offend anyone in any way.
The problem is, there seems to be one person that I don’t mind disappointing – myself. I worked really hard to get my undergrad and Master of Software Engineering degrees, lost countless hours of sleep, and spent more money than I am willing to openly admit to strangers. I told myself that it would all be worth it because I was going to start a wonderful career, travel the world, adopt a child, and live a life worth living.
Now, two years later, I am even further from my dreams. All because I let fear overtake me and prevent me from doing the things that I need to do to be successful.
As we approach the end of 2017, I have come to realize that with every passing year, I keep telling myself that this will be the year that I get my mess together and start living. And while a big part of my scared mind wants to yell, “let’s do it in 2018,” I know it’s long past due and I’d better not wait that long.
I hope that after this, you will all hold me accountable for what I am about to say. Because by the end of the year, I am vowing to face my fears and get more of grip on my mental health. I will have a career outside of my home (though I plan to continue blogging and pursuing my other creative efforts), I will seek help from a mental health professional and start a treatment plan, and I will learn to face the future with more courage and strength. Most of all, I will learn to love myself and care more about disappointing myself than disappointing others.