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Looking Inside You: My Battle Against Anxiety

by Andrea
(Edmonton, AB)

"Anxiety, it just stops your life..." - Amanda Seyfried

Most of you wouldn't want to read this but please, I want you to take time to read this essay-like story of the fights I've been through. This is not a waste of time; This is a very personal story I want to share about the real me (regardless of the fact that this makes me feel extremely uncomfortable). Those who know me personally might think that I am a happy-go-lucky-person-that-always-smiles-whatsoever. It's true, I am that person. But, I just learned that I have a different side and I don't really do well in straightening things out with the other side. I have a hard time explaining my situation to people because I know that they will never understand me, but writing essays like this has always helped me release the emotions. To address this issue to a lot of people is a difficult decision to make, considering that I am currently recovering from bad experiences as well as trying loosen the thoughts I have and, hopefully, other people's thoughts too (WE JUST NEED TO LET IT ALL OUT OKAY). This might be a little bit silly to some of you but it's not pure non-sense. I am here to tell you a story; a story of how I went through the battle that conquered pretty much most of my life.

You see, I have always been the happiest and most carefree person I know. I was in 2nd grade when my perspective in life somewhat changed. This was when I first realized that everyone is going to judge you: from the way you look to the way you act (just when you thought childhood life will be easy). Even though they don't say it directly to your face, they are judging you. I started to feel uneasy and self-conscious but told NO ONE. First, you don't have an escape. Second, you are alone; a bunch of 8-year old's won't understand how you feel. You were on your own. I was on my own. With my self-esteem issues, nonetheless, I've been active at school. I've joined all sorts of competitions and I would win almost all of the time. I experienced my first heartbreaking 'competition' loss when I was in 5th grade. Some of you might say, "Psh, grade 5? You were a baby back then!" But trust me, it struck me pretty damn hard. That time, I had two paths to acknowledge: it is either I focus on regaining success or just completely lose it. I chose the first one, of course. In 6th grade, things got worse. I wasn't only losing competitions but people started to reject me mainly because of what I looked like.I started to kind of fear rejection and failure. And so, I used the reasons they gave me to be the person they were looking for; the person they wanted; the person I am not.

The first few years of high school was AWESOME (well, that was what I thought at first). I don't intend to brag or anything but I had my eyes on the prizes I wanted and I'd always get it. Other people would say that I was living the life; not for long though. Although I was already at my peak, in the midst of 7th/8th grade, my 'alter-ego' became stronger. I do, however, know that she didn't leave me. Only at that time, she was bigger and stronger and I believed that something was wrong with me. Furthermore, people I barely know started bashing on me. To be honest, I thought I was on the verge of depression. My mom always reminded me to just think that they were only jealous of my achievements; but no, I fought back (this was a choice between a FLIGHT or FIGHT response but being the warrior that I am, I fought back). That was probably not the best choice that time. Because of fighting back, I became the person I never wanted to be; the person I never thought I would be: I was somehow the 'bully,' if that's what you call it. That was the one of the hardest years I went through. I came to the point where I would never want to go back to that school again and just cry my eyes out instead. That was the perfect time for my friends to come out and support me. But heck no, they joined the enemy. I have always known that they were just using me for what I was blessed with, though I never really told nor showed them that I knew their act all along. I just wanted the year to end because of what I believed was only INSECURITY. Later that year, I was moving into a new school. I thought it was all going to be happy-happy, but no, fear was still there.

I still had those worries because it was my first time moving schools. A bunch of people from my new school already knew me and that made it even worse (pretty awkward is you ask me). Although it was a nicer school, my alter-ego was overpowering me. That was when I started to reject people before they start rejecting me (do you get what I mean here?) As the year went by, my 'worries' and 'fears' still bothered me for I didn't know what it is or where it came from or what it is about. Nevertheless, I went through the year rather easy with a little bit of flaws here and there but it was overall a-okay. But just when I thought I found where I belong, I had to move to a new place no later than that year. I was fully aware of what I was going into, especially moving into a completely new school, where nobody knew me. But because I came from an international school, I thought dealing with different cultures will be fine. It was much harder than what I thought...

Things just got worse. I had to deal with people who secretly hate me. Instead of my usual 'stand out' persona, I made sure that people did not notice me. Because of that, more and more people stepped on me. Every single day was a struggle. My school kind of has favoritism; always favoring those who belonged in a certain 'clique'. I thought that joining a school team will help me get through my emotions but instead, my worries grew even bigger. At this time, all I wanted was to fit in because I never really felt that I belonged nor accepted. Heck with it, but like before, I never wanted to go back. Yeah sure, I made it through; but it didn't really end the fear knowing that there's still one more year before I leave high school. I had to deal with these all over again, and then I have to worry about college/university (this is the part where you say "Can things get any worse?" Well, it did). The summer after, I started to have delusions of the life I wanted: a life without fear. I then stumbled upon the word ANXIETY. Since then, everything started to make sense. I now knew why I always stressed out; why I want to be left alone all the time; why I find it so hard to explain myself to others. What's worse is that no one knew this but me.

I now try to speak to a few people about what I have but the point is I have to take responsibility for this. Things will not always end up the way I wanted it to. Sometimes, people just have to take their bad memories and turn them into good ones. Another thing is that, I am not alone after all. We are all different, but in one way or another, all of us connect.Yes, I am still living with anxiety, obsession is still there and it's so hard for me to let it go and just move on. I need to go a loooong way before I find inner serenity; before I find myself, and the first step to this is to let it all out (I told you, WE JUST NEED TO LET IT ALL OUT). Explaining your condition to a couple of people won't fix things. Up to this point, no one understands me (I hope you already do). This is why I decided not to take any help from anyone. Don't get me wrong, I tried to reach out, but I chose to face this on my own because the anxiety I have is not just about over thinking or having a hard time choosing between a flight or a fight response, but I also cringe when the hangers in my closet are not evenly spaced out; I also have panic attacks when I go on-stage; I also go over the same thing more than once to make sure it turns out perfect. I have more. I fear criticism; I still fear rejection; I fear the future; I fear death (don't even get me started with more phobias). See? There's more to it than just negative thoughts, recalling bad memories, or even insecurity. Clearly, general anxiety is more obvious to me (disregarding the fact that I have a higher O.C.D. level). Hence, these are not things an individual will be proud of; these are things someone would loathe to have. But I grew up with anxiety; not bullying; not depression. Whether or not this will pass, I learned to accept the fact that this is a part of me, I am empty without it. I am no longer happy nor carefree but I can't just give it all up because without my anxiety, only one thing will change: I will not be the person my family and friends know. I will not be the person I know.

The problem is, I care too much. Nobody can tell me to just suck it up and stop worrying about random things because I won't, and I never will. If the little things count, what more can the big things do? I have lived a life under an anxious sky; sometimes sunny, sometimes cloudy, sometimes stormy. But I learned to live with it whatever the weather is. This story is not over. The battle is not over.

"...but we're human, and we're really strong" - Amanda Seyfried

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