Anxiety is the monster within us all. We can’t control her, and she is always there. She strikes when we least expect it. Be it during special occasions, or when your alone in bed.
Maybe she’s not a monster at all.
Maybe she is trying to warn us?
I experienced my first bout of anxiety when I was 12 years old. She took my breath away to the point I had thought it was asthma.
It was my first year of middle school. That was when she introduced herself.
She showed up unannounced, just here and there. Then she left one day, altogether.
I could talk to a crowd on a podium, start a conversation with a stranger, or be the center of attention, with ease. I loved people.
She was gone for so many years. I had forgotten what life was like with her.
She just showed up one day, with the most dramatic entrance, shortly after I had Jordan. I pushed her down so many times, desperately trying to scare her off.
“You don’t look yourself, maybe lose 30 pounds.”
I ignored her.
She grew stronger, and stronger until I could no longer scare her off.
She would hover over me when I was about to speak, whispering, “Don’t sound dumb.”
She would wait until I was about to walk in front of the room to throw something away, laughing. “Heavens, what if you trip? Sit down before make yourself look foolish.”
I hated her. She knew it too.
I choked when I heard we had presentations to do for class.
“You’ll surely faint! What will you do? You aren’t actually going to try…are you?”
That’s exactly what I’m going to do.
I did faint one day. I was home at least. Dehydration was the diagnosis.
“What if it happens again? While you’re driving? Better just stay home girl!”
I compromised with her. I wasn’t in control anymore. It’s all I could do. I would take a drink with me everywhere I went. I was so afraid it would happen again.
What if I was driving?
What if I was in the grocery store with Jordan, by myself? What would happen then?
She started to consume my life. I hid at home as much as possible. I hated to leave. I hated school. I hated my job. I just wanted to stay at home where I was safe. She had me convinced something would happen.
I refused to ask for help. I would not let her be known. That’s what she wanted.
I fought her constantly. Some days she didn’t show up at all, but it was very rare. She was always there. She loved to be the center of attention.
A few months before graduation, I became pregnant with Arlo. I was so sick at the beginning, but I hid it well with saltine crackers and sips of water.
I did graduated nursing school on time, and passed the NCLEX my first try. I was now a Licensed Practical Nurse. What an accomplishment!
I did it. Despite her.
Life was pretty normal again. I began furthering my career the following fall semest and I worked a lot, right up until his birth.
I had Arlo during the first weeks of nursing school. I only had to go once a week, so it wasn’t too difficult.
She hadn’t showed her face in a very long time. Maybe she’s left for good.
I passed the first semester, and enjoyed Christmas break with my family. I continued working throughout break.
Then it was right back at it. This semester was a lot more difficult. There were clinicals, and a lot of class time. Just about everyday.
Most days, I worked the night shift and went to school as soon as my shift was over.
My stress was through the roof. She was back. She hardly let me sleep.
“You need sleep. You can’t focus in class tomorrow if you don’t”
“There’s no shame in quitting!”
“Quit your job and lose the house. No biggy! You need rest!”
I learned how to keep her in line, but it was a fight every single day.
It was like she finally took matters into her own hands one day. I completely lost my vision in the left lower quadrant. Both eyes.
I ignored her so long, I finally had her under control. She was desperate now.
I went to the ER multiple times. Maybe it isn’t anxiety.
When the doctor finally spoke, “Multiple Sclerosis”, I wondered.
Was she warning me all this time?
(You can read my diagnosis of MS here).
All the anxiety for fear I would faint. The anxiety I felt when I stood from a chair. My short term memory loss.
I didn’t listen to her. When maybe…she just wanted to warn me.
She is anxiety. She is the burden on my life. She is overreactive.
But most importantly, she is known. Just as she always wanted.
MS makes me feel lightheaded anytime I get up. It makes me forget easily.
I’ve felt like this for a few years, before I’ve ever known.
Now that I know why I feel so faint at times, I’m not so afraid. I’m not so anxious.
She just had to tell me something, and I refused to listen.
She is still always there though, just to check in. Right when I don’t want her in sight.
She’s always going to be here. I’ve Just learned to live with her.