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Wellness > Mental Health

My Anxiety Is a Part of Me (And I Still Haven’t Accepted It)

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at C of C chapter.

I was always an anxious child.

I cried when people laughed at me and I struggled to take my head out of books because I was scared of making friends.

When I turned 7, I felt the urge to touch everything an odd number of times because I believed if I didn’t, everyone I loved would die.

I was 9 when I was diagnosed with numeric OCD and generalized anxiety disorder.

As I got older, my anxiety only got worse.

I was 11 when it took me an hour to brush my teeth because I had to brush each tooth individually 37 times.

I was 12 when I feared open public spaces because I believed everyone was laughing or staring at me.

I was 13 when I began self-medicating with street-bought Xanax and opiates.

I was 15 when I started having multiple panic attacks daily that drained every ounce of energy in my mind and body.

I was 15 when I locked myself in my house for three months straight because I thought I would have severe low blood sugar if I left my house.

I was 15 when I stressed myself into three consecutive grand mal seizures.

I was 16 when I entered recovery and started on high-doses of SSRIs and benzodiazepines.

I was 16 when I was diagnosed with a panic disorder and major depressive disorder.

I was 17 when I was able to slug back my first cup of coffee without feeling a panic attack coming on.

I am still in recovery. I still shake like a 70-year-old man with Parkinson’s. I never sleep a full seven hours. I’m still struggling with anxiety and depression and probably always will. Medication is not a fix-all.

I thought my panic disorder was fixed. I thought the nightmare was finally over and I was left with the remnants of generalized anxiety. My old method of “just force yourself to do it” stopped working. It only ended up leading to more anxiety over the past year. My theory that all anxiety is self-created was crushed again when I had my first panic attack after years of recovery. The struggle has worsened this year.

Earlier this year, I experienced mistreatment by a hospital and medical professionals that I trust with my life. The thought of almost being killed again because I had to go to the hospital for lifesaving medical treatment is always in the back of my mind. I tend to be consumed with my fear of going to the hospital. I have a chronic illness that caused most of my anxiety and hospital trips in the first place. My anxiety and fear of low blood sugars will probably lead to my death.

I knew I was screwed when I saw my psychiatrist a few weeks after the hospital incident happened. I sat there shaking, messing with my hands, twirling my hair, and checking my blood sugar every five minutes. She looked at me and asked me, “how are you functioning?” after I told her the story of how I was mistreated by two doctors. I looked at her and told her with complete transparency, “I’m not functioning, I’m just alive”. She increased my benzo script back to the starting dose that I worked for years to cut back to the smallest amount prescribed.

I feel sharp pangs of panic bubble in my mind constantly. Blood sugar that’s too high on my meter, too low, too many ketones, too many assignments, too many things to do, too many things to think about, too many lists to make, too many to-do lists to check, too many things that I have to take care of.

I feel myself disassociating and panic attacks coming on while I talk myself down and try to stop the unrealistic thoughts flooding my head, trying to ignite my flight response. I know that I sometimes zone out in the middle of a conversation or give a completely unrelated response because I was trying to stop a panic attack from happening. I own a food business and have walked off from customers or important business contacts because I feel panic flooding my body, and all I can think about is how I need to get out of whatever situation I’m in immediately.

I wish minutes felt like minutes instead of hours. I wish I didn’t have to look for exits in every building and count down the seconds to when I can leave whatever I’m doing. I keep my hand over my epi, glucagon, meter, and glucose tabs located in the front of my purse. Regardless of the situation, every second, exit and the potential outcome has already been mapped out in my head.

Even if I don’t have a full blown panic attack, my body convulses with shakes, I stutter, and I wander around until I find an exit, a place to sit, or some way to get out.

I force myself to go to piers, beaches, or cemeteries to force myself out of my house. I used to never be home because it was my way of treating agoraphobia.

I’m constantly tired despite the large amounts of caffeine that I consume. I force myself to leave my home, eat, and function like a normal person.

I feel like an awful person because I put my friends off when I’m too nervous to go out. I don’t like my partner and family seeing me anxious all the time. I hate when strangers think that I’m an asshole for running off in the middle of a panic attack.

My anxiety makes me want to give up, but I’ve had too many years of fighting with it to give up. The days of remission and recovery will come back eventually. This is another roadblock that I have to get over (and I’m really, really, really sick of roadblocks).

Deep down, I feel like a failure.

I am not my anxiety, but my anxiety is a part of me.

Carolina is a Sociology Major at the College of Charleston with a commitment to creating awareness for the chronically ill and pharmaceutical monopolization. Carolina enjoys discussing the good, bad, and ugly sides of mental health, the American healthcare system, and how society shapes us as human beings. She's been the majority shareholder of a food truck local to Charleston, SC, since June 2015.