*This post will be under constant construction*
There was a point in time in which I actually glorified anxiety. I witnessed firsthand the effects that it had on people I knew and all I took from it, was the weight loss. How selfish of me, how incredibly rude and selfish of me.
I never thought that I would have anxiety as an illness. Sure, I experienced my moments of doom and terror but on the scale of life, those were normal. The first time that I actually went into medical care for my anxiety, I thought that I was going in for an actual, physical problem. I had horrible back pain, my uterus was giving me weird pains, I had more headaches. Blood work and pelvic scans, I was literally hoping that there would be something wrong because I knew that whatever it would be, would be fixable. I sat in my doctor’s office as she went over my results, upon which I was handed a sheet of possible therapists to contact. Tears streaming down my face, I stared at the sheet in disbelief almost; I was not ready to face this. Therapy would mean talking about my rape and I was not willing to do that just yet. Age 22.
I took the sheet of paper, folded it in half, and thanked my doctor for her time and suggestions. I left, got in my car, drove home and threw the piece of paper into the trash. I could handle this on my own.
It only got worse from there. I stopped eating almost entirely, listening to myself only when I was absolutely hungry. I began to pick at my food, I even developed such a strong will power to not eat or drink, to the point that I would be sick if I tried. I started biking more, I tried to keep myself as busy as possible because that’s what felt good. And when I did it, it was healthy but not enough.
Then the anxiety attacks really started kicking in. My first major one went unidentified, it happened when I was due to fly back to Utah from Italy, after spending the holidays with my family. I became terribly sick, I was convinced that I was coming down with the flu and that there was no way I was going to make it on those flights. I never once puked. But I was miserable the night leading up to, the morning of, all of the flights, and even when I arrived back in Utah.
Things settled back down again, until my next “vacation”. I was so close to calling my mother and telling her “I cannot do this, I cannot get on this flight.” I was shaking, crying in my boyfriend’s arms, terrified to get in the car and head to the airport. Nothing was calming me down, yet we went anyways, and I got on my flight.
Then I had an anxiety attack in front of my mother, in front of my aunt and uncle and cousin. Why was this happening to me? Why was I letting my thoughts control every aspect of my life? Then I had another…and another, and another. I had them at work, I had them at home, I had them in the grocery store, I had them when I was trying to leave the house.
My anxiety attacks were bad but I never knew how good I was having it until my first panic attack. I distinguish the two very prominently because my panic attack sent me to the ER. It was terrifying, traumatizing. I was on a bike ride with my boyfriend when it had begun, stopping multiple times to try to calm me down, but nothing was working. After finishing the ride and returning home, my levels were still elevated. I changed clothes, laid in bed, tried drinking water and eating something, but only felt more nauseous. I convinced myself to call a nurse hotline, upon which she ends our conversation with “okay, I need you to take aspirin if you have any, and call an ambulance.” Chocking on my panic and tears, my boyfriend loaded me in the car and drove the speed limit, for once.
Walking in to the ER, I greeted the tech with “my….my chest…..” entering back into a fit of hysteria. I was immediately taken in and hooked up to a ton of cords, as they tried to find a vein for blood work. After getting my EKG results, I was told that nothing was wrong with my heart and there was no sign of anything having happened. 45 minutes later, my blood work proved just the same. Nothing was wrong. Nothing had been wrong. My doctor handed me some papers and I finally knew that it was time; I needed help.
That Monday I made the call that I had needed to make months ago, maybe even years ago. I sat in my car in the parking lot of my therapist’s office and reminded myself over and over again that I needed this. I was shaking walking in to the office to fill out some basic paperwork. Then I got into my therapist’s room. It was beautiful, simple; purples and greens, two pictures hanging of plants that I loved and one picture of a mountain landscape in watercolor. I knew in that moment that I had made the right choice finally and that I was not going to let therapy scare me.