I Am What Anxiety Looks Like… (Part I)
I never understood myself until I was an adult. Growing up, I tried many different medications and therapies. But what I found was that doctors who treated me observed my behavior, asked my parents, and talked with my teachers but they never asked me what I was thinking.
We take actions (behaviors) because we are motivated by the thoughts in our head. Anxiety is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.
For me anxiety is:
Vomiting at school because this standardized test that some bureaucrat in Washington DC or Austin decided I needed to take will effect my entire future. Rather I move to the next grade with my friends or am bullied because I was left behind. Rather I was smart enough. Rather I deserved to graduate because despite having the grades this test said I wasn’t good enough. I will never forget the day I was told that even though I had completed the coursework with passing grades because I had failed to pass the TAKS test I would not be graduating. I cried myself to sleep that night.
Coming off needy or desperate in romantic relationships because I feel so lucky and undeserving. Maybe not good enough for my partner. So I overcompensate by being dishonest about who I am. I smother them with complements and love because I am grateful. I try to be with them often because I am scared they are going to find someone better than me. This comes off as controlling or overdoing it.
I self promote or come off as narrasitic. I over compensate with my higher education. Because when I was in school I wasn’t good enough to graduate. I didn’t get good grades. I wasn’t the popular kid.
I interrupt people constantly because I have ADHD and I fear forgetting something important if I don’t get the words out of my head.
I was the problem kid. What people saw as being the problem kid was really me frustrated because I struggled to communicate my point of view or I felt like I was not being heard.
Laying in bed at night exhausted but unable to sleep because while you fall right asleep, I see folders in the air. Things I need to do. Things I need to say. Tasks I need to complete.
Your assumptions about my behavior may not be accurate and your judgements certainly aren’t always fair. You may know someone but I promise you that you don’t know what is going on in their head. Ask.
For those who have anxiety, this is not your fault and it does get better. This chemical imbalance can be fixed with the right therapy and medication. I will never forget being in my car 3 weeks after I started taking Fluoxetine (prozac) and with the windows down, wind blowing in my hair, singing at the top of my lungs I started crying. For the first time in years I felt free. That weight had been lifted off my shoulder.
At that point, it didn’t matter how anyone else saw me. It didn’t matter what all I had to get done. What mattered was the music, the wind, the joy.