It’s not pre-show jitters or first day butterflies, it’s a different kind of fear.
I close my eyes, I am 11 years old again, my mother yells that we have to leave in 10 minutes. And so it begins. I start shaking, I run to the bathroom with a stomach ache that was nonexistent less than a minute ago. I walk into the living room, sit on the couch and let the flood gates open, screaming, crying anything to try to excorsize the demon taking over my body, tearing me open from the inside out.
They say everyone has their demons, mine, an anxiety disorder.
I am twelve and the panic attacks don’t let up. My anxiety like torrential rain, threatening to flood the city. I have stopped seeing my friends, and leaving my house unless forced. I contemplated suicide often, seeing it as my only escape. My mother brings me to the doctor and I am put on medication and sent to a therapist.
To the outside world I am getting better, Maybe this was just a phase.
I am 13, and off the medication. I had survived my first year of school and even started hanging out with a few people who are now my closest friends. Life was looking up, I could see the light, but that didn’t mean I was out of the tunnel.
But I’m not better. My eyes are dull and my smile is faker than barbie.
I am 14, school is harder, and so is spending time with my “friends.” One girl, I thought we were equals. It started with a joke, harmless. She would poke me in the back, joking that I would get kidney failure. Then she hit harder, still “joking”. That is when the rumors started. All because I wore a guy’s shirt and a rainbow bracelet one day. I started to get nervous to go to school, scared that I would have to face her again.
Have you ever tried screaming underwater? And no one can hear you and those who can pretend they don’t? That’s what it’s like, screaming and nobody can hear me.
I am fifteen, sitting on the bus, an already stressful situation. A girl sits with me, as people do. She forces me to either move in or be crushed. I slide against the cold metal of the bus, creating the most amount of space between me and her. But it’s not enough, I start getting a feeling that I knew all too well. I was having a panic attack. My sympathetic nervous system triggers my fight or flight response, my adrenaline levels raise, my body preparing for a war, a battle that will never come, at least not physically. I can’t breath, I can’t speak, I can’t even think. The voices of the people around me blur into indistinguishable mumbles, every light is too bright, every noise too loud.
All I want to do I go home and drown in a sea of loud music and blankets, warm and safe in my own space. But I have to do what I do every day, and push through the next seven hours pretending to be okay.
And now my mind is not my own. My thoughts fall in to this never ending void of what ifs and could this-es. Spiraling out of control, my own personal self destruct button. I claw at the edges, desperately trying to escape. But how can you escape your own mind? Your own thoughts?
If I have the freedom of speech, why do I feel imprisoned by my words?
This is my life now, I live in constant fear that someday my anxiety will take over my life and never relinquish control. I am scared to look towards the future, because the guess and check method doesn’t work for life.
I have lived my whole life with irrational fear, but now I am truly afraid.