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Tumor. Cancer. Torn ACL. Sprained wrist. Broken Foot. Twisted ankle. Brain Hemorrhage. Migraines. Chicken Pox. Measles. Diphtheria. Tetanus. West Nile Virus. Fever. Asthma. Sinus Infection. Malaria. Nose Bleed. Tuberculosis. Allergies. Lyme Disease. Falling. Screaming. Dying. Hypoglycemia Attack. Diabetes.
My breath is coming at a rapid pace; so fast that it hurts to breathe. My heart is beating so loud that I swear I could awaken the dead. I’m running. My legs are thrashing and my arms are flailing.
Suddenly, I wake up with a jolt. Drenched in my own, cold sweat, I sit up in my bed and attempt to console myself, telling myself it was just a dream, even though I know very well that it wasn’t just a dream. Wearily, I lay back down, hoping that sleep will eventually come without another nightmare.
My Mom calls it anxiety. I call it being cautious. Except, lately I’ve noticed that maybe she’s right; maybe it is more than being careful. Nowadays, my worries have become so bad that they invade my dreams, strangling me, choking me as their dark, shadowy figures loom menacingly over me.
The next morning, I wake up, stifling a yawn. I eat a hearty breakfast of eggs and bacon and tell my Mom, who is intently reading the newspaper, that I have a headache. Frowning, she responds, “Didn’t you have one yesterday?”
Sheepishly, I reply, “Yes, but I have one again.”
Sighing, Mom turns to face me. “Honey, you have been having headaches so often that I am starting to believe that-
Cutting her off, I say “What? That I have a brain tumor?” I start hyperventilating.
“No,” That is NOT what I said,” she replies sharply. “I was going to say-before you cut me off-that I am beginning to think that these headaches are because of your anxiety. You are so worried about having a headache every day, and so long as you keep thinking you have a headache, you will continue to have one…every day.”
“Oh,” I utter, biting my nail. Thinking about what Mom said, I bound up the stairs and jump up onto my bed, where I think best. As I let her words sink in, I take out my tablet I borrowed from my Dad, which I conveniently forgot to tell him I borrowed. I search links for headaches, reasons why my elbow feels weird, and whatnot. Suddenly, I stop. Putting the tablet down, I sit up, my mind swimming. I realize that maybe it is possible that I do sort of have a problem. I think back to health issues I have “diagnosed” myself with in the past week.
As it turns out, I was able to think of more than twenty things! Slowly, I slide off my bed and saunter into my Mom’s room, where I find her reading; something she rarely has time for. I started to back out, and then Mom puts her book down and says, “What is it, honey?”
I explain to her that while I was in my room I realized that there was a small possibility that I might have anxiety- and not a bunch of rare illnesses. Agreeing, Mom says, “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you along. However, now that you have recognized that you have a problem, we can try to fix it.”
Without missing a beat, I quickly reply, “I do not want to go see a therapist, they are for crazy people…I’m not crazy…right?” Then, I start to think that maybe I was crazy, that I should be locked up in some facility, but then Mom interrupts my thoughts.
“I agree that you do not need to see a therapist, however, they are not for crazy people. They just help people work through psychological problems that they can’t deal with on their own. And no, you are NOT crazy.”
“Okay,” I start slowly, “But then how do I fix this?”
“It starts with you. Take deep breaths, try not to think irrationally, and stop yourself if you begin to have horrible thoughts. Imagine a brick wall in your mind, you put it up to block bad thoughts, which in turn leaves the bad thoughts locked outside of your thought process and you will eventually forget them,” Mom suggests to me soothingly.
“Okay, I’ll try it. Thanks Mom,” I say sincerely.
Over the next few weeks, I try the methods that Mom recommended. Bit by bit, little by little, I start getting better. Whenever something happens to me, I assure myself that I will be okay. Another thing that I found that helps, is writing.
When I begin to write, it’s like nothing else exists in the world. It is just me, a pen, paper, and possibly a computer. Writing is my way out, my way to escape the real world. I can go wherever I want; I can dream up any character, and I can do things the way I want to do them.
“Hey, Mom, guess what?” I tell her, happiness bubbling up inside of me.
“I don’t know, what?” Mom responds teasingly.
“I think that my anxiety is gone. Once I stopped worrying, I felt free, like I can do anything I want. It’s almost like I was trapped, stuck in a hole I couldn’t escape from. Except, then I was able to free myself. All it took was a little deep breathing and some writing,” I tell Mom earnestly.
“Good for you, darling,” Mom said proudly, her satisfaction practically glowing off of her. Simultaneously, we both reach out and embrace each other, for a really long time.
Finally. I have freed myself from anxiety; something that held a tight grasp on my life for a really long time. I’m still not perfect; I still worry often, except the difference is that my worries don’t stop me from achieving my goals, I can be anything I want to be and I can do anything I want to do. And when I find my worries spilling out of me, all I have to do is relax and write.