For me, anxiety is like a spider. You know it’s there, in the pit of your stomach, just waiting patiently. For the most part, it’s still and quiet, so you let yourself forget it momentarily. But when you have to take public transport to a place you’ve never been before, or when you get overwhelmed by the week ahead of you, or when someone says something that makes you stop and think, the spider starts crawling up again.
It crawls from your stomach upwards, past your lungs and chest, and into your mind, where it pounces on your deepest, darkest fears and insecurities. For me, when an anxiety attack hits, I can’t breathe. I have to sit myself down and force myself to breathe in and out, slowly. I can’t stand for too long because insert to feel faint and unsteady on my feet. My stomach clenches and goes into a lot of pain.
My palms are sweaty, my brain is in overdrive and I have to force myself to stop crying in case anyone asks me what’s wrong. My anxiety was really bad as a kid, but not so much now at 17. My most recent attack was probably 3 months ago, when I started a part time job in a fast food restaurant, and I was late to my first shift because I was hyperventilating on the side of the street, just outside the restaurant. I quit that job 2 weeks later, and fortunately, I have now found another job that has nothing to do with customer service (yay!).
However, I start University next week, and there’s been this cloud of overwhelming doom hovering over me for the past two weeks. My stomach is is clenching just thinking about it now, as I type this. I’m afraid to receive treatment because I’m scared of the side effects of medication, and deep down, I’m worried that all of this could just me overreacting, and there’s actually nothing wrong with me. For now, I just keep breathing. Deeply in, deeply out.