My Anxiety: Part One

I frequently worry, and I have for a long time. The physical manifestation of these worries can be observed by those who choose to be observant. Just a few weeks ago, a bus driver in Chicago locked onto my eyes as I hesitantly disembarked - Don't be nervous, honey, she said to me. But how couldn't I be?

  • I was travelling alone. I had a train to catch. I was running low on money.
  • My stop had either come and gone or had yet to come at all, but I wasn't sure which.
  • People were staring at my clothes. People were staring at my luggage. People were.

Of course I was nervous, and of course she could tell. When the world around me crumbles, idiosyncratic breadcrumbs fall behind my feet. Visually, it is quickened breath, teary eyes, bouncing knees, a clenched jaw, and hands that fly from fists to jazz hands and back again. Metaphorically, it is a plea for help.

Since puberty, panic has been Plan A. Though I strive to present myself as a rather self-sufficient young adult, the word "overwhelmed" is one I use often when on the phone with my mother. For years, my life has grown more and more into a puzzle that I cannot put together, and when I can't find a piece, I cry. I pull my hair, I hyperventilate, and I shout to whomever can hear me that I need them. 

I saw a counselor from the end of 9th grade to the beginning of 12th. My grandpa's battle with Alzheimer's had been growing more gory, as had mine with cystic fibrosis. Like any other heterosexual girl of my age, I was in love with a boy who didn't seem to notice me, and a very close friend of mine was diagnosed with severe anorexia. I was unhappy. That same close friend recommended her counselor to me, and I went, spending over $100 of my parents' paycheck every week to snottily sob on a beige loveseat.

Growing up with a life-threatening illness, I was (and am) a faithful believer in medicine. After more than two years, I was diagnosed with nothing, and since I wasn't any better and my meltdowns were only growing more frequent, I stopped going.

The triggers of my anxiety are patterned; I break when I feel lost, unloved, or judged. Unarguably, however, the most debilitating panic attacks stem from my feelings of failure. This is the anxiety that rips into my relationships. This is the anxiety that one social worker noticed. This is the anxiety that diagnosed me with Anxiety.

Tonight, I begin the healing process. Tonight, I swallow a little green pill before bed and lose myself in a packet entitled "Free/Low-Cost Counseling Services in Ann Arbor." But then again, I hate to be lost.