Anxiety sucks. A story of a lost kid, and something they call comorbidity.
If I ask you to picture someone with anxiety, what do you see?
I used to imagine a shy, reserved, introvert, shaking at the thought of going out in public.
When you think of someone with anxiety, do you imagine a happy go lucky extrovert who plays music on stage and loves to meet new people?
No? Me neither.
But it turns out that it is completely possible, because that person is me.
To get the whole picture, we need to go back a bit. I was diagnosed with ADHD at a very young age, and like most kids in the early 90’s I was put on Ritalin. I learned to get used to my impulsivity and concentration issues. I never thought to look past these symptoms and look into any other ones.
After a rough few years in my early teens, I started to have sleeping issues. I was only able to sleep with the TV on. I would stay up worrying if everyone was okay, worrying that something horrible could happen while I was asleep. I would think and think and think and just was unable to keep my mind quiet. After being unable to find a medication that could help me concentrate without making me chew my fingernails to the bone, I made the decision to stop taking medication. I got kicked out of school that year.
At 17 I moved from a small town to a city, and discovered hard drugs. I would be lying if I said that I can remember much of my early twenties. Years of self-medication and sleeplessness. People would ask me why I would stay up for three days straight, and all I could answer was that it’s the only time my brain was quiet.
As I got older I decided I wanted to help myself with my concentration, so I got back on medications. Three years of changing uppers and getting addicted to various sleeping pills for an entire summer, I ended up back at my doctor’s.
I couldn’t do it anymore.
I was tired of being two people, tired of the noise in my head. Tired of being tired, tired of feeling like I needed to be someone else to make people around me happy. No one could deal with me, I was too loud, too disruptive. I was tired of staying up late in bed wondering about the past and fearing the future. I was tired of constantly looking for a distraction just to keep my brain focussed.
After a few minutes of discussion, my doctor looked at me and said that we had been treating the wrong disease my entire life.
I don’t know if any of you can understand the relief of reading about people with the same condition as you and feeling a thousand pounds lighter at the realization you aren’t alone. It is fucking amazing, and sad at the same time.
All those times I panicked in the middle of a grocery store because there were too many people.
All those times I said the wrong thing out of fear of imaginary reactions.
All those times I got mad at people because of my perception of their words.
All the stress and pressure I was putting on myself.
I finally had a word to describe how I felt for so many years.
Now this hasn’t fixed my life. I still have a lot to work on.
I still get scared at the grocery store.
I still overthink my days.
I still worry about making decisions.
But now I know my demon has a name, and I know that I can beat it.