Anxiety is defined as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. It is very real. Explaining your anxiety to someone that does not suffer from it or understand it can be difficult. I have the most amazing family and friends, no doubts about that, it just can be difficult for someone who doesn’t completely understand what you’re going through to say the right thing.
I’ve always had anxiety lurking but over the past few years, it has become more than just a shadow. It became a large part of who I am. I usually describe myself as a “selective extrovert” meaning I am very outgoing when I want to be, or when my anxiety will allow me to be. There have been social situations where I had to leave early because I just could feel a panic attack rising. To people who weren’t aware or didn’t understand, it may have been considered rude. But to me, isolating myself is a way to keep calm. There are some days where I literally can’t leave the house without panicking. I can’t stay in tight spaces or be in a room fully packed with people. It’s not an easy battle but I have made so much progress over the years.
Something important that I want to get out there is that separation anxiety is an absolute real thing. My husband and I were involved in a three-year continental-divided relationship that just recently ended, only for him to be sent away almost immediately after moving into our first home together. Thanks, Marine Corps. Being divided from one of the most important people in my life all those years made a negative impact on the progress I had made in the fight against anxiety. When I needed him most, he couldn’t be there and it was through no fault of his own; I know he would’ve done anything to be there for me. It was so hard to not be able to just call him whenever I wanted, due to the time differences. When he left the first time, I was an extreme mess. I couldn’t focus on work and I would isolate myself in my room when I got home. My family and coworkers all noticed the change but there was nothing they could do. This was a fight I believed I had to fight on my own.
As the years passed, I realized that I wasn’t ever alone. I had a great backbone of family and friends who became my “distraction” from my anxiety. I immersed myself into being a better daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, ad colleague. Slowly and slowly my personality became more positive and it was easier for me to see the good in everything. Living overseas for the past eight years has helped tremendously. I love traveling and I use that as another way to overcome my anxiety. Distracting my mind by discovering new places and new cultures is an easy way to keep myself calm.
However, there are still days that are extremely difficult for me. About two months ago, when I was preparing to leave my parents home for the first time, the anxiety came back full force. Everything felt like it was crashing down. Before going into work each morning, I had to give myself a pep talk and I just kept repeating “you were given this life because you were strong enough to live it.” Nothing that was thrown my way could break me, as long as I refused to crumble against it.
It is important to understand that everyone has their own battles. You shouldn’t ever judge people because you never know what they’re going through. Anxiety is a constant battle for me but I will continue to fight it. Just find your escape. I take shelter in traveling, reading, cooking, and writing. Those are my passions and my escapes from this constant battle. I continue to have my bad days, trust me they’re always there, but I’m extremely happy to finally say that I have so many more great days.
To anyone currently fighting against anxiety, stay strong and continue to fight. It can become easier.