What An Anxiety Disorder Looks Like For Me

I used to believe I was allergic to fakeness.

People would do things that were fake af, or things I found morally wrong, and I would get so upset that I would purge. I thought that my body's response to that kind of thing was to throw up because I was actually allergic to it. With all the other abnormalities in my life, that wasn't unthinkable.

I have an anxiety disorder. Whether or not it should be classified as severe is debatable. I can go to class, I can be happy, I can go months without having any episodes when I'm on medication. I'm usually able to have a normal life. The issue is when I relapse, and then I get so close to never being able to have a normal life again. That's when it becomes debatable.

Here's how my anxiety works when I am not on medication, for those of you who may be dealing with similar issues and feel as though you're being ridiculous. You're not. I promise.

My anxiety doesn't come from job responsibility, from classes, or from the future. It comes from social interactions, from feeling inadequate or unloved, for feeling like the world around me is wrong in some way and I cannot fit into it appropriately. If I cant handle my reality, my body goes into overdrive. My severe anxiety happens when people do things that I find morally deplorable, when I feel someone is being fake with me, when I feel like I have failed as a person in the world, or when I feel an overwhelming amount of hurt. And these apply to people I love, people close to me. It's not like I watch Mean Girls and immediately start puking, or fail a quiz and start breaking down. I can be around those kind of things. What triggers it for me is when someone important to me is involved, someone I love dearly. Or if I think I let down the people closest to me.

I think the reason for that is because I become vulnerable with these people. I let them into my brain, let them take up mental space that should be filled with positive things. And then when it becomes negative, my body has this intense desire to purge it from myself. Obviously it can't purge it from my brain, so instead it tries to purge it from my stomach.

When this happens I have two options, though sometimes there's not always an option.

I'm going to use the word "purge" but in a more literal sense. I don't have to stick my hand down my throat to purge like you would see in an eating disorder, I just have to stop fighting the natural urge. I can purge, and the physical pain will give me so much release. My brain is so focused on what is happening that my anxiety calms down immensely. I feel like I am truly releasing the hurt, the pain, the anxiety of it all from myself and into the toilet bowl. But it doesn't last very long. Because then I become weak. You have to eat to survive, and when you don't your body lets you know that its not happy with you, even if your anxiety is. Over the summer, I lost 25 pounds from anxiety. I get weak, tired, and ultimately upset with myself. I feel defeated, because I'm a prideful bitch who doesn't like losing, nor does she like subscribing to any kind of "game".

The other option is I try and fight it, though again that is not always an option. Fighting it comes in the form of aggressively shaking my legs. Usually it's only one leg, but if its bad then its two. Though that's something that doesn't normally bother me, it does make me self conscious when people point it out or try and force my leg to stop bouncing. My breath can also start to hitch, or I feel the need to take very deep breaths. I have to fight the nausea, find a way to relax or distract my brain but normally feeling too trapped by the sensation of anxiety to escape it. Sometimes I'll try and surround myself with people, so the social pressure makes me feel like throwing up is unacceptable. Or they can be used as a distraction for my brain. Sometimes it works, but sometimes just one trip to the bathroom will be all it takes for me to get sent over the deep end.

The worst part of having anxiety is sleeping. I wake up every hour from a vivid nightmare, am restless even with someone next to me, and normally have to play some kind of show on my phone so my brain can focus on something else. I can't just sleep on someone's couch either, because a night of restlessness with no sleep and anxiety that hasn't stopped for hours on end results in a day's worth of nausea and mental pain. It feels like someone hit my head with a hammer, and there's a parasite inside my stomach that demands my attention. 

The good news is that medication helps. A lot.

I made the mistake recently of going off of it because, again, I'm a prideful bitch. And thus a relapse occurred.

When I first started taking medication, it wasn't the right kind and it made it so much worse. I couldn't sleep at all, I was weaker, and emotional af. Eventually I switched over to a stronger dosage of a different brand, and after some time it worked wonders. My aunt told me that I was more confident than I had ever been. I honestly felt more successful and in control. Tragic things happened but I didn't react with puking. I just reacted with a nice crying session and moved forward. Upsetting things aren't suppose to make you do what my anxiety does to me. And if it does anything like this to you, or is too unbearable, here are your options:

1) Seek counseling.

Counseling does help. When my anxiety was less severe, I went to counseling at my school and it helped me for a while. My school's counseling services were apparently praised state-wide, which I didn't know until after I stopped going because I thought that I was too complicated for them to ever understand (I'm a goober, what can I say). 

Here's the link for counseling center at CNU.

And if you're not sure what's available to you, or your school doesn't offer counseling, here's where you can get connected.

Talking out what you're feeling and thinking really does help so much. Sometimes if you can identify what's going on in your brain, you can conquer it with your own brain power rather than ignore it and hope it goes away.

2) Get on medication/find a psychiatrist.

There's an unnecessary and innacurate bad rep about medications that even I subscribed to for awhile. There is nothing wrong with being on medication. Sometimes anxiety is physical, not emotional. Sometimes anxiety is something you were born with. It's a disability. You wouldn't tell someone in a wheelchair that they needed to just get over it, figure it out for themselves and learn to walk on their hands. You accommadate the disability. Once you accept what it is, if that's what it is for you, it gets so much easier. You do NOT have to sign yourself up for a lifetime of overthinking, of pain, of instability and restlessness. You're not weird, you're not overdramatic. You've got a disorder and it's okay to ask for help.

If you're considering medication (which I highly reccommend) first go talk to your general doctor or get your insurance company to send you a list of psychiatrists they accept who can prescribe something to you. There should be a number on your insurance card you can call and they'll email you whatever you ask them for. If you're strapped for cash, try going to your local Patient First. If you tell them what's going on, they'll help you get connected and sometimes can write prescriptions for you if it's severe.

3) Don't be afraid to tell people.

I didn't want people knowing what was going on for a long time, and then I was hospitalized from not being able to eat and knew it was probably about time to call my parents (actually, I didn't want to. My "special friend" at the time convinced me to because I was just gonna pretend everything was gucci to avoid any kind of confrontation). I didn't want to tell my boss, and when I had to call out because I was having major puking spells, he started to think I was just skipping work. When I wasn't telling people, they didn't understand and just saw my absence as me being lazy, or me being secretive. When I finally caved and started being more open about what I was going through, everything improved so much. People understood, and that pressure to perform even while dealing with anxiety was lessened. I had people I could talk things through with, who would listen and help if I asked. The people around you really do love you, you just have to be willing to be a bit vulnerable with them. It makes life so much easier once you start being more open about what's going on. It really does.

And if you need help finding people to be vulnerable with, to let in, try support groups. I don't mean support group as in we all sit around a circle and talk about our problems, I mean people who also get what you're going through and are taking active steps to bring awareness and fight this uphill battle. At CNU, we have the National Alliance on Mental Illness. If you feel like getting connected with them, here's the link.

And this is the link to their national page if you'd like to connect with them in a different capacity.

4) Remember you are not less of a person for having a mental disorder.

You are not inferior. You are not a failure. You are not weak.

You are still the beautiful you that you were before, and you still will have all the opportunities in the world available to you. So please continue to give yourself the love you need and deserve.