I have anxiety. Not just occasional or situational anxiety, I have round-the-clock, full-time anxiety. I’m anxious when I wake up in the morning. I’m anxious taking a shower. I’m anxious pouring cereal into a bowl. Let’s not even talk about the anxiety I feel stepping outside of the house. There’s no end. Being anxious is my normal.
Anxiety is extremely exhausting. The effort I need to put in just to make a phone call is unbelievable. I will prepare myself for days, rehearsing conversations in my head, dialing the phone and then backing out before I hit send. I usually end up half-sedating myself with Ativan before I am able to finally dial the number. More times than not, the person I’m calling isn’t available and I end up having to go through the process all over again. Needless to say, I am definitely in favor of e-mailing or texting, although that causes anxiety as well. Sometimes I’ll let a message sit for hours, or even days, before opening it. Then I worry about how I will respond. It’s a never-ending cycle.
I think a lot of my anxiety comes from my upbringing. I was never really allowed out on my own, so most experiences are new, and therefore, anxiety-provoking to me. Hell, I didn’t learn to cross the street until I was in my 20s. I still get anxiety crossing the street. All that goes through my mind is “I’m going to trip and fall, I’m going to get hit by a car, I’m not going to make it across, what if I space out in the middle of the street?” Sometimes, if time permits, I will hang around and wait until someone walks by and gets ready to cross and I’ll cross the street with them.
My anxiety has been extremely high since moving out. I’m in an area completely foreign to me. I tediously plan every route I need to take to get…anywhere. I had an appointment yesterday and studied Google Maps for days beforehand just to prepare myself, and I was still anxious. Public transportation is even worse for me. I am constantly worried about missing the bus, or missing my stop and ending up lost in the middle of nowhere. And then there is the anxiety over the people on the bus; I try my best not to make eye contact and avoid any possible conversation that may arise. I usually sit there, legs shaking, looking like I’m about to pee my pants at any moment. I can’t imagine what people must think of me.
There is no off button for my anxiety. As much as I try to focus, I constantly have at least a dozen thoughts running through my head. I’m genuinely surprised that I’ve managed to make it through four years of college and maintain a 3.9 GPA. It is a huge effort for me just to get a paper done. When I’m reading, my mind wanders to anxious thoughts and I end up not absorbing anything I had just read. It’s the main reason I never liked reading, even as a child. My primary doctor diagnosed me with ADD last year and put me on Adderall. It helped, but I still struggled.
I’ve been on a plethora of medications that are supposed to help with anxiety. Anti-depressants, Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin. At one point during my hospitalizations, the psychiatrist had put me on anti-psychotics, trifluoperazine, Seroquel, and eventually Risperdal, which are used in cases of treatment-resistant anxiety. I couldn’t even tell you if those medications worked because they came with a long list of unpleasant side effects that I just couldn’t deal with long-term. Trifluoperazine was the worst of them all. I ended up losing some of my vision (which I started to regain after six months), drooled constantly, and developed uncontrollable facial twitches. I made the decision to wean myself off because living like that was no better than living with anxiety.
I’ve tried relaxation techniques, aromatherapy, and breathing exercises. I’ve tried exercise and yoga, though I will admit I am overweight and not the most apt at doing either of those things. I’ve tried writing, which helps, but it takes me longer than it should because I have to muddle through all the crap in my head to get my thoughts on paper (or on a computer screen). Therapy didn’t help, though I will admit that my therapy experiences have been less than mediocre at best. That’s another topic in itself.
I’ve resigned to living with my anxiety. I guess it is a part of me just like everything else is.