Tears streamed down my face as I sat in the backseat in a Walmart parking lot late one night while on vacation with my family. I couldn’t stop crying and it felt like I was going to throw up. My dad yelled at me from the driver’s seat that I needed to stop. I thought it was the end of the world.
Let me rewind a bit. About a year before this all went down, my father had left my family. And by left, I mean ran out on us for a soccer mom and her children. Yeah, it was not a happy year. Fast forward to Walmart, my father sits in the car with us while my mom goes into Walmart for some groceries. On this particular vacation, my father had tried to come back home, so the vacation was sort of a trial run. That whole year, I had to deal with the fact that my father didn’t care about us enough to stay. So, I developed a fear of abandonment. If one parent left, what was to say the other one wouldn’t it?
Back to the crying: my mom had only been gone for probably fifteen minutes, but it felt like an eternity. I began to cry due to fear that she was never coming back. Illogical as it sounds, I truly thought something bad was going to happen and I desperately wanted to be with her.
Now, as a seventeen year old, I still haven’t outgrown this fear. It has developed into a fear of going into the grocery store, paying a bill alone, or even ordering food without someone by my side. Getting a cell phone in eighth grade did help, but no security blanket was ever the equivalent of a parent being with me, especially having my mom. As a seventeen year old going away to college for the first time, I am absolutely terrified of walking to class alone. What if I go into the wrong room? What if I can’t find the building or classroom? What happens if I am the first one in the class, or worse, I show up late and everyone stares at me? What if I get trapped in a sea of people and can’t see where I am going. I know this last question is bizarre, but trust me it happened my ninth grade of high school when I was trying to find the school gym. I ended up having an anxiety attack on the way there and was really tempted to run back to my twin sister’s class and beg her to walk me to the gym.
Alright I’m sure you get the point, but why I am I telling you all this?? Well, I want you to know that fear doesn’t control you. I still deal with this fear everyday and am constantly belittled due to how insane it sounds, but I am fighting this. I do challenges where I go in and order takeout by myself, or I stay home alone voluntarily and reflect on the fact that people aren’t going to leave me on purpose; people will come back.
Whatever your fear is, whatever the obstacle you face, you can overcome it. Don’t allow yourself to be held down by irrational thoughts. You cannot live in a state of constant fear. That’s not a life; it isn’t fulfilling. If you are struggling with your mental health, please reach out to someone you trust. A college health center may be a place to start. They can give you information on coping skills, offer a screening, and even refer you to local mental health services in the community that can offer long term support if need be. You don’t have to fight this alone! There is hope for you that one day you can wake up and no longer be plagued by irrational thoughts and fears. You can reach that point one day. Surround yourself with people that support you and your wellbeing. Don’t allow fear to control you as you are the one who is in charge of your own life and health.