I’ve lived long enough with anxiety, I thought it was normal.
[I’ve lived with it even before I learned the word and its meaning.]
Growing up, I was constantly told by everyone that I was “too shy”or “too quiet” and I have to talk more and play with kids of my age. Being the shy kid that I was, I never even tried to explain that I just couldn’t do that. I wanted to, but I just couldn’t. Every single time I try, my heart raced faster and all kinds of emotions filled my thoughts. The fact that I didn’t have an explanation for it discouraged me even more to tell my parents the way I was feeling. So I never did and I kept it to myself.
Living in that kind of environment, I grew up believing the problem was with me and I could ‘cure’ myself. I thought the only way for me to get better was to help myself.
I tried. I tried to talk to other kids in my school, in our neighbor, etc. But I couldn’t even talk ‘properly’ with people who are almost always around me. I never also learned to voluntarily recite in school, even though as a student, I was really doing well in almost all of my subjects.
Even then, I knew it wasn’t just in my mind because there have always been physical manifestations. My hands shake and sweat a lot whenever I talk to people, and in worse instances, meaning when I had to speak in front of an audience, my whole body does that.
Watching other kids, especially of my age, doing speeches or even just talking to lots of other children always made me think how were they able to be so. I wonder how long did it take them to not shake and sweat and be shy anymore to be able do that. I always admired, and envied those people.
I always exerted so much effort when preparing speeches and reports for school. I always made sure I understand and memorize my piece before I present it to class. Almost always it is that I perfect the piece before performing it but my mind messes up with me during the actual presentation. I forget everything I studied on the spot. I feel like all my efforts are wasted all the time this happens, meaning every single time I have to perform something in front of many people. Overtime I just learned how to deal with the frustration this causes me.
For the longest time, that was the case. Until college came and public speaking activities became more frequent. My environment also changed drastically since the people I meet here are way more diverse than before. I noticed the biggest improvement in myself in the shortest period of time ever.
Shaking and sweating of my hands were still always there but I definitely felt better and more confident when speaking. I convinced myself that all I needed was the exposure and practice I never got before I entered college.
But not long after I realized I was wrong.
I didn’t get better. I haven’t overcome my anxiety. I just got used to the feeling. I might have overcome my shyness, but not my anxiety, because they are two different things.
Fast forward a little, after my first appointment with the psychiatrist, I somehow understood my situation. I was convinced I understand that mental health illnesses were real conditions and needs professional help and medication. But the feeling is different when you are actually diagnosed with one.
I thought I would be ready, but no. After confirming I have anxiety (and depression, but that’s another entry), I tried doing everything to ‘cure myself’. I didn’t like the idea of asking someone’s help for solving ‘personal issues’. As I’ve said, I grew up thinking what I had was normal, maybe I subconsciously accepted anxiety as a part of me I didn’t want to lose.
Looooong, long, long story before I accepted the fact that I needed help, that my anxiety is not a personality, rather an illness. It took me to experience the effect of anti-anxiety medication before convincing myself that self-curing isn’t the answer, and there’s actually no such thing.
( I don’t know how should I end this. I don’t even know my point in writing this. It’s just that it’s 2 am and I couldn’t sleep so I decided to get my laptop and start typing what’s in my mind. I don’t even know who will be able to read this, or if anyone will be. Please let me know if you do. Leave a comment, share your story, asks questions, whatever, you are welcome. [posting this at 3:17am] good night!)