I tell myself to keep fighting, to stay strong. I tell myself to take it one day at a time, one step at a time and one minute at a time.
It’s been hard. I’m not going to lie about it and I’m not going to sugarcoat it, either.
It’s that time of the year when everything creeps up on me. Finals. The holidays. Every single thing I have to do. Stress about grades, stress about the upcoming semester.
It’s that gut wrenching, guilty feeling of being pulled in too many directions for the holidays. Where do I go, how do we make this all work – who will I end up hurting if I don’t go here but decide to go there? It’s like being a child again, fresh out of my parents divorce.
Overwhelmed. Hurt. Anxious. I hate it.
Then there’s the panic, and the attacks that have been coming along with it.
It’s the early morning panic about not getting enough sleep. It’s the panic about knowing I need to get up and to campus, but being unable to do so. It’s the panic about what everyone is thinking when I’m not there in class.
It’s the panic over what work will hold for me that day. It’s the panic at the end of my shift when I still have this much to do, and feeling like I won’t get it done. It’s the panic as I try and sit down and work on homework, knowing that despite having taken this class three times now – I’ll never learn the material, I’ll never pass.
It’s the relief that I can finally crawl into bed at the end of the day, exhausted, drained and ready to sleep. Until the panic starts in. My brain is like a hurricane, constantly going and impossible to turn off. It’s the thoughts about today, what tomorrow holds, how much I have left to do just this week.
It’s the panic over the holidays, over money, over my health.
It’s like that first panic attack I had. I was in high school, goofing off on a nearby playground with friends when I slipped just a tiny bit. That gut wrenching, terrifying feeling that everything around me was collapsing. I couldn’t catch my breath, I was sweating. My heart was pounding and aching.
It happened two more times within one week.
I had convinced myself my heart was giving out, that there was nothing anyone could do. I went to the doctors and they told me, no, it’s just a panic attack. What’s going on? What triggers them?
Hell if I knew. I’d never had one before, even though I’d felt that panic before. Again and again and again. It was a familiar friend at that point, but it was quickly becoming my enemy and something I was terrified of. That alone would cause more attacks.
It’s the terrifying intrusive thoughts that come on when I am feeling at my worst. It’s the thoughts of what would happen if I did this? What would happen if I walked out and didn’t come back? It’s the thoughts of self harm, something I haven’t done in years, taunting, calling me back. It’s that terrifying urge to go back to those habits and fighting hard not to.
Those thoughts haven’t won the war, but they’re there. They are in the back of my head on the worst days – popping up when I’m at my worst. I fight them as hard as I can. I turn to those I trust the most, confiding in them about these thoughts. Somehow, we’ve managed.
The thoughts are there on the worst of days, but I’m constantly fighting through them. I have to fight them.
These days, it’s the constant anxiety. It’s the late night panic attacks where I can’t catch my breath and I search for a reason why this attack came on. It’s the nightmares some nights, memories or flashbacks on another. . . sometimes I’m not even sure what triggered them.
It’s not easy.
I feel drained. Exhausted. Even on my good days, the days where I am laughing, calm. . . the anxiety is there. It’s the old friend who wants to stay in your life despite how much has changed. It’s that dreaded feeling when you know you are doing better, but something is still dragging you down.
It’s a daily battle. Anxiety is a bitch. You think you have it under control and something, even the smallest thing will trigger it and it will all come flooding back, drowning you under it’s weight.
I try to stay above the water, to stay grounded, but the anxiety gets the better of me more often than not. It’s hard to push the thoughts away, but I push and I push and I push.
I can’t drown under the weight of anxiety. I refuse to, but these are the days where it seems like it’s pulling me in all directions, settling in and making itself at home. It’s a demon and a ghost, a friend you don’t want.
It’s a part of me.