This post has been in progress for nearly a year now. When I first started this entire blog, I had intentions of sharing my personal story, but I can never seem to craft the words to explain how I feel, or to explain how I feel in a way that others might be able to understand. I’ve typed and deleted, typed and deleted. I finally thought to myself, “what better way to share my thoughts than to actually share my thoughts?”
We’ll get there, hold on.
One of my favorite quotes is by Rupi Kaur from her book, Milk and Honey:
“The thing about writing is I can’t tell if it’s healing or destroying me.”
(Side note: For anyone who has experienced love, neglect, abuse, or really any life altering situation, read this. It’s a remarkable work of poetry to describe cycles of hurting, loving, breaking, and healing. And no, I’m not being paid to say that.)
While discovering methods for coping with anxiety, I found an outlet in writing.. Journaling. There’s just something about a pen and paper that can focus the mind.
Here we are, almost a year in the making, I am finally publishing the unedited thoughts and reactions that happen inside my mind on a daily basis through the eyes of my choppy, inconsistent journal over the past year and a half.
What better way to share my thoughts than to actually share my thoughts?
Some of these entries might not even make sense. However, every day is a struggle in it’s own way.
Most days, I try to picture what life would be like without an anxious mind. What a life that would be.
Remember, I am not sharing this for sympathy or pity. Feel free to simply read and try to understand. Every mind is different and this is mine.
Immerse yourself in the raw workings of my anxious mind.
Monday, March 23, 2015.
(Second semester of my freshman year of college)
Today was an okay day. I woke up feeling tired, anxious, and ready to go home. I just got back to school from spring break YESTERDAY.. I’m so disappointed in myself.
I already started a countdown for when I can go home this Friday.. it’s only four days away, but I can’t get out of here fast enough already. A 2-hour drive often seems like home is a world away.
I don’t understand why I feel this way, because nothing is wrong. I’m doing well in my classes, my friends are great, I’m healthy, my environment is comfortable, I don’t know why I feel so anxious and eager to be home.
A lot of my stress comes from simply having so much time for my mind to re-evaluate every little thing.
I find myself checking in on everyone and analyzing everything they do. If someone near me has a cough, I’m Googling the symptoms of the flu. If people around me are discussing their plans for the weekend, I’m busy finding a ride home. It’s getting ridiculous, but I have no answers or paths to find how I can help myself.
I’m still struggling to decide if it will be better for me to transfer next year or if I should tough it out, grow up, and stay here…farther from home. I’m so confused, tired, helpless, hopeless..the list goes on. I’m praying for some sort of answer.
Four more days and I’ll be safe at home for another weekend.
Monday, March 30, 2015.
Surprise, surprise, I already want to go home. That “time of the month” just passed today and I have a headache and backache. My mind always tricks me into thinking I’m dying whenever I get symptoms like these and I start feeling a lot of anxiety.
I have no idea what’s wrong with me.
I’ve been feeling really gloomy and sad and I feel like this day is just dragging on with no end in sight.
Tomorrow, my sister is coming to visit overnight and I’m supposed to be excited, right? I keep telling myself it’s going to be fun to have her come during the week so I can show her around and get my mind off of everything, but I can’t get over the way I’m feeling today.
I can’t wait to finally get done with my class and my meetings, take a shower, and just relax and watch a movie or something. That’s my favorite part of my day. Movies make me feel like I can temporarily disassociate from my own life and immerse myself in another one.
I think one source of my stress comes from the unknown situation for next year. I think I want to stay at this school, but who knows what kind of mess my mind will be in. I am stuck. I want to be tough and just stick it out, but there’s always that little voice in the back of my mind to tell me I can’t do it.
I pray that God will point me in the right direction soon, because time is ticking away quickly..
Thursday-Friday, March 9-10, 2015.
Had a really good day today! Looking forward to tomorrow because it’s my friend’s birthday and we’re all going out to dinner and then I get to GO HOME.
A girl threw up in the bathroom tonight. I had an instant panic attack. I immediately ran out, went into my room and shut the door. A minute later, I was already pacing the room crying. I could think of no other solution but to talk on the phone with my mom.
It was 1:30 a.m.
(Part of the reason why I hate this disorder is that I feel like I’m a burden on others. I have to depend on other people for my own sanity. WHY.)
After this incident, I was completely paranoid.
I usually go to the bathroom to brush my teeth and pee before I go to bed.
Not this time. I went all the way down to second floor of my residence hall to brush my teeth, and I held my pee until the morning. I was shivering and crying through the night. I didn’t sleep at all.
When I decided to get out of bed after a sleepless night, I went all the way to the basement to use the bathroom, and did this for the rest of the day. I skipped all of my classes and spent the day packing to go home and trying to feel normal again.
I couldn’t eat, I was exhausted mentally and physically, and all I could think about was what happened the night before.
I am ruined. All because someone else was sick.
Saturday, March 11, 2015.
I woke up at 11:30am today. No surprise, because I got absolutely no sleep on Thursday night. What a disaster to my mental state.
Today, while I was home, I planned out some classes for next year and was hoping to get in contact with an adviser about the transfer process.
The adviser never got back to me.
I went with my mom and brothers to Madison, excited to do a little shopping and go out to dinner.
I got an anxious stomach ache halfway through shopping so we went home early.
As I began to do my laundry and pack up my things to go back to school again tomorrow morning, I started to cry. I will be at school for 19 days. The fact that I can’t even handle 19 days away from home makes me feel so disappointed in myself, like I’m a failure.
I’d love to come home every weekend! To be able to have something like that to look forward to every week makes me feel so happy, but it’s unrealistic. I have commitments. I am missing out on so many memories and good moments with college friends because of this stupid mental disease.
I want to come home already and I haven’t even left home yet.
Sunday, March 12, 2015.
I woke up crying this morning.
It’s Sunday. I have to go back to school today.
Why can’t I be like every other student and have a good time in college? Oh right, anxiety.
I don’t know why. I don’t know how. I’m terrified to be away from home, away from my family. I wish I could stop this, I really do, but there is no easy way. I HAVE to force myself to get through this. I have to be strong and tough because I know it will help me in the long run.
I just wish there was an easy way.
Friday, April 24, 2015.
It’s been a while.
Some things have changed recently. I decided to reach out for help after I realized I’ve slowly been getting very unhealthy, mentally and physically.
I went to go see a therapist here on campus a week ago and I pray that it will help me get through the rest of this year. She was really nice and I told her everything that I’ve been feeling lately. She seemed to be very understanding and gave me a few things to try before my next appointment on the 30th. The thing is, these appointments are so far apart that I struggle in between.
I still panic during the week, more often when it gets close to the weekends.
I still coop myself up in my room unless I’m in class.
I hate socializing because I feel like I just don’t fit.
I love being at home…
I wish I were there right now.
Tonight, I have to force myself to stay here at school because I need service hours for my sorority. Tonight is a fun event and I’m hoping it’ll take my mind off things for a little bit while I’m there.
But I’m terrified to come back to my dorm. It’s such a struggle, because sometimes I LOVE being in my room and other times, those white cinder block walls are my worst enemy.
I’m already crying again because I have to face my fears and stay in my dorm for one night over the weekend.. and I will only have to come back to my dorm just to sleep. Why does sleep sound like such a difficult thing to do?
Tomorrow, my mom is driving up to take me out for my birthday. I can’t even describe how much I can’t wait to see her, even though I was just home five days ago.
I decided I’m going to go home with her again, too, because I can’t handle another night here on the weekend. I decided I need to go home for 24 hours because I’m not stronger than that.
Things have changed around here. I’ve gotten more and more unhappy, the weather changes every day, people change every day.
I’ve lost 15 pounds since I started college in September. That seems a bit backwards, doesn’t it? I’m not happy, I’m not healthy, I can’t eat or sleep. Something is wrong and I promised myself I’d continue to try and get help.
Lots of my peers are drunk or high every weekend. Call me crazy, I’d much rather just go home. I don’t like being around it and I don’t think others understand why it causes me so much stress. I don’t even know why. It really shouldn’t affect me at all.
Somehow, every little thing can cause my mind to create a crisis. I hate it.
I keep thinking to myself that I only have to be here for another 20 days until the semester ends. I can finally feel happy and comfortable again. Maybe the demons will disappear.
Get me out of here.
Wednesday, April 29, 2015.
Here I am, sitting in my dorm.
I woke up in a strange mood, unsure as to why I felt this way. Am I exhausted? Am I sick? What the hell is wrong with me? I continue to blame the way I feel on my hormones, but that can’t always be the reason, right? I need answers.
Yesterday was my birthday, which was a wonderful day. I felt no anxiety, I was genuinely happy and surrounded by people who care about me. I got to talk to my mom on the phone and Skype with the boy briefly. I finally went to bed around 1:00 a.m, which may be part of the reason why I’m feeling so tired and gloomy today. But I think I’m depressed.
I get to talk to my therapist here on campus again tomorrow. I don’t know what we’ll talk about, but I want more answers.
I need a diagnosis, something to get me on a path with whatever I’ve been dealing with. Whether it be extensive therapy, medication, hospitalization, tests, whatever. I need answers. I need to know what to do. How to be healthy…mentally and physically.
Wednesday, September 7, 2016.
(Two semesters and two different schools later…)
It’s been over a year since I last wrote. I guess you could say I found my footing for a while during my sophomore year of college and coming into my junior year. One new relationship, two new schools, two new employment experiences, countless life choices.
I decided to transfer schools last year, and it absolutely was the best decision of my life thus far. I found a career experience opportunity, I graduated with an Associate’s degree, I cared about my health, I competed at Miss Wisconsin, I felt accomplished, I felt at peace, I met a good guy.
Things are going great.
I’m back at a (yet another) new school (third one, to be exact), and I am excited to continue my journey and move past all the difficulties I had experienced my freshman year. I am ready to complete my Bachelor’s degree and continue on a new path I set for myself. I decided to make a change for the better. I am ready.
Aaaaaand it seems that the vicious demons have returned. They’ve all come and gone since the last time we met.
Here we are, stuck in the endless cycle.
I definitely didn’t make it as long as I thought I could… we’re at it again in one of the infamous mid-night episodes.
2:07 a.m. rang in and I was up with the classic shaking, nausea, dry mouth, racing mind sort of scenarios. For some reason, waking up and only seeing a few hours go by since I went to bed makes me so worked up.
Most of the time, nights are just survival passages into the next day.
I guess that’s kind of what they really are for most people, too.
For me, it just seems like nights act as some sort of method of time travel. A wonderful form of time travel. Peace and serenity until reality hits like a hand on an alarm clock. For most, getting up after a night of time traveling is very difficult (especially when you time travel from Sunday to Monday morning), but for me, waking up is the best feeling in the entire world, regardless of what day it is.
Because I successfully traveled through time without being brutally interrupted by a bout of night anxiety. Sometimes, that’s an accomplishment in itself (sad but true).
Night anxiety is the worst (arguably comparable to mid-day anxiety. Actually, anxiety at any time sucks pretty bad…)
Being thrown on a late-night detour on the time travel route through peace and serenity is a very rude awakening. Mostly because night time is a chance to recharge to get through the next day, which is difficult if you wake up with horrible, uncomfortable feelings in your mind and body. After that, you’ve lost part of your internal battery with no chance to gain that charge back until you begin the next time travel journey the next evening.
BUT, say you were put on yet another anxious detour the next night. You lose more of that internal battery until eventually, you can’t recharge anymore. By then, it’s a constant cycle of detours and interrupted time travel and then
you are lost.
That may be a pretty obscure analogy for mid-night anxiety, but for some reason, it gave my detour a little bit of direction for tonight’s time travel journey. Goodnight.
Monday, October 17, 2016.
Hello again. Back at it for another late night. Yesterday was a rough end to the weekend. My boyfriend came to visit and I feel calm when he’s around. He knows how I struggle, he knows how to make me feel better, and he is able to comfort me at any time. Naturally, I always want him around for that purpose (and many others).
Yesterday, I woke up with a sore throat, and we all know how I get when there is just one thing going against my plan. That feeling of being in complete control is constantly tested.
My brain also remembered that it was Sunday, meaning I have another week of classes, stress, and anxiety. Fast forward a few seconds and I’m a shivering anxious mess. How will I survive the next two weeks? I have obligations, so going home is not an option. What if I get sicker? Where is my mom when I need her?
Here we go again, bad thoughts and memories bring back an anxious Jess. Deep breaths…
Tonight, I’m feeling depressed, anxious, in pain, and fearful. I’m afraid of being sick or tired (or both). I’m afraid of being away from home for more than five days. I’m afraid of being stranded here with no way out.
I’m afraid of my head; I’m afraid of myself.
I need to grow up. It’s time for me to stop living a life of fear and start living freely. I thought I was over this. There is no way for me to stop or control everything.
Life. must. go. on…
And the crazy thing is, it always does. Life is full of temporary pain, discomfort, or unhappiness, but it always goes on. There is nothing that ever stops me but my own thoughts.
That’s it, I need to call my mom.
No I don’t, I’m okay.
Sometimes, it helps if I read anxiety forums to see what other people say about their own struggles and how they find solutions. It’s silly, but it almost makes me feel like I’m not alone (or going absolutely crazy).
It’s almost 2:00 a.m.
I’m going to take some melatonin and try to prepare for the day tomorrow. I just have to remember to breathe, think positively, and use my resources when I need them. I have to remember that it’s okay to accept help. I don’t have to do this alone.
I can get through this.
(Photo by: Leah LaLiberte – @hael)