Anxiety

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Like most kids, me and my brothers spent our saturday morning watching cartoons before mom and dad got up. On a saturday that began like any other I found that I was the first up. I went downstairs where my parents had a home gym. In the corner was a tv we used for cartoons and video games. Somehow on the way to the tv I knocked over a wooden shelf full of weights. The shelf fell over with a loud crash. Immediately I began to tremble uncontrollably, my heart was racing, my breath was short.I was so afraid that I was going to get in trouble that I could barely move. Never before had I felt this betrayed by my body, sadly it wouldn’t be the last time.

The gym incident happened back in 1989 when I was nine years old. I was able to clean up the mess and no one even knew it had happened. Other than usual jitters and nerves everything was fine until 1992 when I was in the sixth grade. I was getting bullied a lot. I felt like I didn’t fit in. My grades plummeted and I stopped trying to do any homework.I was supposed to get my progress reports signed by my parents but instead I chose detention. The retaliation from my parents would have been far worse. One day while checking out my room my dad flew into a rage. I had just cleaned but it wasn’t good enough for him. He pulled out dresser drawers, knocked things off my shelves, and broke a model helicopter I had put together.

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While standing in the doorway watching my father my chest began to tighten. I suddenly felt as if I was being suffocated. I couldn’t breath. I ran outside and sat on the front steps. The fresh air made a huge difference for some reason. It was like being inside couldn’t provide me with enough oxygen in that state. Again my heart was racing and I was trembling all over.I was crying, I felt like such a failure. In that moment I couldn’t even remember my own name.

These attacks were routine throughout middle school and continued on through high school.During my junior year I was put on prozac to help regulate what the doctor had diagnosed as anxiety attacks.I hated being on medication. It made me feel like there was something wrong with me. The prozac numbed me in a way I didn’t like. I wasn’t feeling anxiety sure, but neither was I feeling joy. Secretly I stopped taking the meds after a few months, hiding them in my room. My mom eventually found a big jar of pills and totally flipped out. She was convinced I was going to kill myself with them. I was a depressed teenager like many kids but suicide was not in the picture. After talking with my doctor we decided to try life without meds.

At the start of my senior year I decided to tackle my anxiety head on. I was afraid of talking to anyone but my friends. I hated answering the phone. I didn’t like going anywhere without a friend or family member with me.I signed up to be the office assistant for the last hour of the day for the first half of the year. This meant I would have to interact with people and answer phones nonstop. I forced myself to face my fear head on. It was a little surprising to me to find out that people weren’t all that scary most of the time. In fact if you gave them a smile, you usually got one back. By the time I graduated I was a much more confident person than when I started high school.I still had, and have, a long way to go.

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