For those who made me feel like I’m ubnormal. Thanks for nothing, assholes.
Hi my name is Jinan and I have an anxiety disorder.
Speaking about my anxiety disorder openly, freely, like I’m doing right now, used to be really hard.
I was in denial. “I’m okay,” I used to say to myself as my hands shook whilst in the middle of a panic attack.
“I’m okay,” I used to say to myself as my heart went thump thump thump after the panic attack had receded.
“I’m okay,” I used to say to myself as another panic started brewing.
People got annoyed at me when I acted weirdly. My friends gave me weird looks when my voice shook.
What they didn’t know was that when my voice shook, when my movements became jerky, I was a mess inside. That my heart, my heart, would be beating so hard I felt the pulsations in my head. That there was a gigantic whooosh in my ears. That my eyesight was tunneling and the edges were fading to black.
That all I wanted to do was to run.
To run away and to fold myself, like you would fold a paper, and hide from the world.
It was hard. Really hard. I used to feel that I’m not normal. That there is something wrong with me because there is no way that other people around me feel the same way. My self esteem, my self confidence and value, wasn’t zero. It was below zero. When I got a panic attack, I would berate myself.
“Stop it, Jay, stop acting like a goddamn retard.”
“You are so weak that you would panic over a phone call? How pathetic. How disgusting.”
“You are anxious over the interview today? What a loser. Why the eff are you anxious, huh? It’s just a club interview, not even a job one. Get over it”
“OH OH LOOK AT YOU NOW YOU ARE FREAKING OUT OVER MARKS. EFFING MARKS FOR AN EXAM YOU KNOW THAT YOU ACED. THAT’S GOLD.”
The self hate and misery were packed so tight around my heart that sometimes I felt that I couldn’t breathe.
I never did anything new. I stuck to everything familiar because those things were safe.
Then a couple of months ago, things changed.
I’m taking a speech communication course this semester. For the first presentation, the professor asked us to include something about ourselves that we hated. So I decided to talk about my panic attacks. Saying it out loud, admitting it out loud, was a huge, huge, step for me. I sorta, kinda started accepting it.
Then Erica set up a vlog to help her deal with HER panic attacks. I started watching the vlog and I connected to so many things. I felt…almost happy that there are other people like me out there. That maybe I’m not alone in this.
I started reading about it and educating myself.
And I captured the light at the end of the tunnel.
Yes I have an anxiety disorder. Yes that sucks big time. But I can learn to control it. I don’t have to let it control my life.
When it attacks me, I can fight back.
This liberated me.
It freed me.
I started accepting that it’s a part of me, a part of what makes me me.
I went to that club interview. I panicked on the way there and almost changed my mind. I continued moving my legs, though. Every step toward that office was my retaliation. Every click of my shoes on the ground was me getting better. Every deep breath was me learning how to make the panic attack go away.
Every event I help organize with the club I’m grateful that I went outside my comfort zone.
Every word being typed right now, with shaky fingers and shiny eyes, is me taking some of that weight off my shoulders.
When I started to get better I thought I’m finally free of that dreaded anxiety. But nope, I still have bad days.
Days when I’m hit with a panic attack so hard I’m almost knocked off my feet. I now realize that things won’t get better overnight and that’s hard to accept. But I’m going to get through it because I’m strong and each and everyday I’m getting stronger and I’m going to continue on getting stronger because I want to be happy. Ten years from now I want to look back and be proud of myself and the improvements that I made and I AM going to be happy.
I’m not going down without a fight.
I’m going to look my anxiety disorder in the eye and I’m going to say “Watch me. Watch me fucking destroy you.”
Today I’m getting my first midterm marks. I’m terrified. I know I’m going to have a panic attack in class. I know that my breathing will get shallow. I know that my hands will shake. But I’ll be there, sitting straight and proud in my chair as opposed to the slouched posture I used to assume before. I’m going to breathe deeply and I’m going take that paper without my hand shaking.
For those reading this, if you know someone with anxiety disorder please don’t make fun of them. Please don’t treat them badly. Please don’t get annoyed and fed up with them. They can’t control their panic/stress/anxiety attacks. Ask them if there is anything you can do to help. You don’t know how much that will mean to them.