You can go for days, weeks, months, even, and feel perfectly normal.
And then one day, everything is different.
It starts off small, unnoticeable.
As if every little thing flusters you: dropping your pen, not being able to find what you’re looking for, loud noises.
You try to shake it off.
You have difficulty concentrating. Sometimes it takes two or three times for you to understand what someone is saying to you.
Maybe I just need to eat.
Maybe I’m just tired.
Someone says something that bothers you, but instead of brushing it off, it sits in the back of your mind. You keep going back to that moment and mulling over it, trying to figure out why you can’t let it go.
I’m just being pessimistic.
You feel the negativity radiating off you, and now your nervous habits start surfacing: picking your nails, squeezing your hands, faster heartbeat.
You feel uneasy, and you don’t understand why.
Next thing you know, there’s a sinking feeling forming inside your chest, and it just won’t go away with anything you do.
It’s as if something is taking over.
You feel as if you’re out of your skin.
You don’t feel like yourself, and it’s just getting worse.
You snap at someone unnecessarily, and you immediately feel regretful.
You feel a heightened sense of tension.
Your chest tightens, your breathing becomes shallower.
What’s wrong with me right now?
Why did I just say that?
Why can’t I enjoy my time like everyone else is, right now?
There’s no reason for me to be feeling this way at this moment.
Why can’t I get myself together?
This is when the spiraling negative thoughts start occurring, and it all starts going downhill from there.
I have always been a nervous person.
I like stability; I don’t particularly enjoy change. I feel overwhelmed easily; I obsess and overthink things. I feel scatterbrained; I forget where I put things constantly, and then become immediately frustrated with myself because I hate how all over the place I am.
However, I didn’t start understanding the severity of anxiety in a person’s life until I started experiencing the consequences first hand.
You feel fine, and then you’re not, and you’re trying to figure out what went wrong and how to fix yourself as soon as possible.
There are days, weeks, months, even, when I feel normal.
And then one day, I can’t stop crying because I am so overwhelmed with everything I feel. Every little thing builds up. I try to keep a smile on my face, I push it all down. And then I explode. Except, I can barely explain any of it.
I’m afraid of looking crazy, of running people off because I’m showing my true self, not the put-together and composed self I always try to be.
But maybe my true self is too complex to put in a box.
Maybe I don’t have to one or the other. Crazy or normal. Anxious or calm and put together.
Maybe normal is anxious, but we like to pretend like normal is perfect.
Normal is no problems, no insecurities, no mistakes, no negative emotions.
Is that even reality?
To put it simply, I am who I am.
I am not a simple set of labels, personality traits, or beliefs.
I consist of all I’ve felt, said, done, experienced, witnessed, and everything in between.
I have high anxiety.
I have triggers, and I have coping mechanisms. Some healthy, some not.
Most days are good. Some days are moderate. Some days are horrific, and I just want to go to sleep and start over the next day.
And that’s exactly what I do, because that’s all you can do.
Most importantly, I have accepted this is who I am, and I am okay with talking about it.
I talk about it, because this is normal.
It is normal to have problems, insecurities, mistakes, and negative emotions. We are human, and we have to remember that in a society obsessed with maintaining the facade of “normality.”
Do I have myself figured out? Of course not.
Am I learning about myself more every day? Absolutely.
I’ve learned that the first step to accepting yourself is learning who you truly are, not who you try to be. Once you step in that direction, the rest will follow through.
We just have to be open to learning and growing, instead expecting ourselves to have everything figured out already.