That was then, This is Now

The mind is the most powerful muscle in the human body. It makes people sad, happy, joyful but also nervous and anxious. It makes sometimes the happiest situations turn bad when the mind feels overwhelmed and trapped. Larissa, 21, a California native who now lives in El Paso, Texas felt just that almost every day in high school.

“Fitting in is hard and in high school that’s all I wanted,” Larissa said, holding a cup of coffee in hand outside of a Starbucks in downtown El Paso, “I used to wake up and throw up really, nothing, because I was so anxious to go to school and be the lonely outsider. I thought it was going to be forever.”

Of course, high school wasn’t forever. But those anxiety attacks, that made her lose 10 pounds in a couple months due not even being able to hold food down, really seemed like it. “I thought I would never succeed, thought I never would find the career I wanted to do for the rest of my life, thought on the trips the plane would fall from the sky so I never rode on an airplane…I thought the worst of everything and my body couldn’t calm down. I felt trapped.”

Anxiety in the plain, dictionary definition is this: a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome: What is possibly more uncertain than the future? That was her biggest fear. “Everything I noticed that would give me these attacks, had to do with the road ahead of me,” she said. The hard part of life is never having a clear sign. There is no book that has anyone’s life written out. No one can predict the future.

I asked her if she could think of the certain day she learned to deal with this problem, where these attacks came less frequent and she started to live again. She paused a moment and said, “The day I realized no one is God. No one is a fortune teller, no matter what anyone says.” That is the key for people to overcome. The day people learn that there is no clear answer to life and that it is perfectly okay; that will be the day that people struggling with anxiety will be able to breathe clearly once again.

Larissa thought in high school, when life was knocking at her door, that she would never answer. She thought, “I would never go to college, never figure out what to do in my life and defiantly not have a career.” She thought what most people with anxiety feel. But Larissa had the greatest advice and is the living proof of it.

To sum it up, when asked the last time she had an anxiety attack, she couldn’t remember, “Probably a year ago, for what? I don’t remember. But, that was then. This is now.” Larissa was anxious of something everyone is anxious of. Life’s uncertainty.

But, as the interview ends and we are walking back to her work, she tells me that this is what she lives by, “Never fear the future. Live every day for that day. The rest, with hard work, faith and determination, will all follow right along.”

She is living proof of that, from the anxiety run young girl, to a graduated accounting student, top of her class, working full time at the El Paso Electric Company as a financial systems accountant, while also getting her masters and having traveled to over 5 states for work on, yes, you guessed it, an airplane.

She smiles proudly as she goes up the stairs in her skyscraper building back to her work, checking emails and turns down towards me, yelling, “have an early flight to California tomorrow for a training, who knew?” laughing effortlessly at life and all its turns. But most importantly, anxious free.