According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety affects approximately 40 million, or 18.1 percent, of the adults in America. It is treatable with many different types of drugs and methods from many doctors and other medical specialists. I could sit here and spout of dozens of facts from different medical journals and websites, but I have something better to give. I want to give you a look into anxiety from the perspective of someone who has it: me.

Living with this illness has levels but for me it’s like flipping a coin some days. I never know what I’m going to get when I open my eyes in the morning. I am usually a very happy person and that doesn’t change, but it can be challenging. There are times when my days are perfect and there is nothing wrong. These are the days that make me the most anxious. I am constantly wondering if I forgot something or if I did something wrong. A perfect day is a day where I don’t feel at all secure. On a day like this, the people around me never know that nothing is wrong at all as I smile the brightest at this time. To have people know that something is wrong with me makes me more nervous than anything.

I have discovered the feeling of a panic attack recently and I’m not a fan. The first time I experienced one was a few months ago and I didn’t even know what was happening. Unfortunately, I was at work. I went about my normal routine, but I kept feeling like something was wrong. There was the feeling in the back of my brain like a blinking alert light and I just kept ignoring it. The attack happened in stages. First I kept feeling this tightening in my chest, followed by a sudden shortness of breath. Then I started feeling lightheaded and dizzy. Finally, I felt closed in and very trapped. I sat outside taking long, deep breaths while I called my mom, who calm stated “Shay, you’re having a panic attack. Just calm down.” She said it like it was the simplest thing ever, but her telling me what was happening to me helped. I started to calm down and breathing came easier. My lightheadedness started to disappear and I could stand again. I felt better but I still felt on edge. I freaked me out that my body just seemed to attack itself and I couldn’t really do anything about it.

Sleepless nights are a major part of my life of anxiety. I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve stayed awake. I could be exhausted but sleep would elude me constantly. This cause so much stress in my life and began a never ending cycle of terror in my life. I couldn’t sleep, therefore I’d be tired the next day, which meant I couldn’t get my work don’t adequately and finally I’d be up all night stressing about that, thus restarting the cycle. This lasted for most of my time in high school and followed me into college. I slowly started to go away and I began to sleep more over the last two years but it hits me every now and then. I tell people I’m tired the next day and they just tell me I should just go to sleep at night. This is when I just want to scream. I’m not saying no one understand my situation but I really don’t know how to explain it to people.

One of the most embarrassing parts of my anxiety is crying. I’m not joking either. I’ve always been a crybaby since I was a small child but this is different. This actually happened an hour before I wrote this. I could feel fine and then the next moment my emotions are running haywire. Some people blame it on PMS or other things but I know what it is. When it first started, I couldn’t stop it. I would cry randomly and any location. The worst moment was after MATH 117 in the middle of student union and my friends Matt, Andre and Blake had to comfort me in front of dozens of people. Now I’ve sort of reigned in control over this bullshit. I feel it coming and I go by myself and assess what is happening. I help when I can figure out what is wrong. There are times when I can’t stop it or I can’t figure out what’s causing it but it still helps to sort myself out.

There are times when life becomes a lot all at once. This is the best way I can explain it. As my day progresses, little things pile up and become a haystack of issues. My charger breaks. My car still doesn’t have air. I don’t have enough money. I feel like I’m bothering everyone. My phone freezes. My job is too much for too little sometimes. There is so much and it starts to drive me nuts all at once. My night, I am a bundle of nerves. My usually outlets are crying or silence but there is another one: anger. I hate when this happens, although I have learned to control this issue. When this happens, I lash out with all I have. I snap at people. I say mean things. I am a serious bitch. Once it happens, I never can stop it. My filter disappears and the first thing that pops in my head is what is said to the other person. Afterwards, I feel horrible and apologetic. I am always forgiven but it still makes me feel bad that I hurt others just because I feel bad.

This is not here to help anyone out or make a testimony. This piece is for me to explain my situation, in my word, and also help myself understand what my issue is. I haven’t even explained to my family and friends how I feel because I never knew how. I forgot that I speak better through written words than I do when I’m vocal. I really hope this help people understand me. If it does help others, I’m happy also. Just know that it wasn’t really my intention. I don’t have the experience nor the abilities to help others or tell them how to live their lives. The only person I can help is me and that is a challenge in itself. 

Published by Misa Gosserand