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A is for Anxiety


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Quiet, paranoid, easily startled. A whirlwind of sleeping pills, migraines, and earplugs, this is life for me after 13. After anxiety. Before, in contrast, I was a wild, talkative, rather annoying little person as most children are. So it seems I was perfectly normal. How this normalcy went awry, I'm not sure. When, is quite precise: 8th grade, winter break, 13 years old. I'd been staying with my grandparents for the holidays, mainly to get away from the hustle and bustle with my immediate family. The only downside to this was that they kept their house freezing cold even during the winter. During this period I was always tired and would spend most of my time sleeping or trying to sleep on the sofa which was in front of the AC. Of course i became ill. Yet even after I'd been cured and the sickness passed, some symptoms remained. My headaches became severe migraines, the sound of the TV made my thoughts race and lastly, I became an insomniac. It was clear that i was evolving. I was a bit scared and very concerned with my recent changes. Every adult i consulted said basically the same thing, “It's only puberty. You'll grow out of it”. Meanwhile the migraines were getting more frequent, and I'd been developing a dependency on sleeping pills. Things were getting worse, and it seemed like everyone was down playing my claims when I knew better. Since I wasn't getting the proper diagnosis at home, I did what any inquisitive teenager of the new millennium would. I searched the web. Not knowing where to start, I began by describing my symptoms in the search engine. Almost every result had something on anxiety. A peculiar word I thought it to be, 'anxiety'. I searched for the definition, and found this:


Medical Encyclopedia: Anxiety
Anxiety is a multisystem response to a perceived threat or danger.
Although anxiety is a commonplace experience that everyone has from time to time, it is difficult to describe concretely because it has so many different potential causes and degrees of intensity. Doctors sometimes categorize anxiety as an emotion or an affect depending on whether it is being described by the person having it (emotion) or by an outside observer (affect). The word emotion is generally used for the biochemical changes and feeling state that underlie a person's internal sense of anxiety. Affect is used to describe the person's emotional state from an observer's perspective. If a doctor says that a patient has an anxious affect, he or she means that the patient appears nervous or anxious, or responds to others in an anxious way (for example, the individual is shaky, tremulous, etc.).
Anxiety is often unfocused, vague, and hard to pin down to a specific cause. In this form it is called free-floating anxiety. Sometimes anxiety being experienced in the present may stem from an event or person that produced pain and fear in the past, but the anxious individual is not consciously aware of the original source of the feeling. It is anxiety's aspect of remoteness that makes it hard for people to compare their experiences of it. Whereas most people will be fearful in physically dangerous situations, and can agree that fear is an appropriate response in the presence of danger, anxiety is often triggered by objects or events that are unique and specific to an individual. An individual might be anxious because of a unique meaning or memory being stimulated by present circumstances, not because of some immediate danger. Another individual looking at the anxious person from the outside may be truly puzzled as to the reason for the person's anxiety.


It was a revelation. All the time I'd spent trying to overcome what others thought was simply puberty, and i wasn't addressing my ailments correctly at all. I wanted help immediately, yet it was a relief more than anything to know there was a name for what i had. My mother thought little of this notion that something was truly wrong with me, and simply chose not to address it. In such a position, it was decided for me, that i go untreated, medically anyway. This would mean making some adjustments such as normal use of earplugs (noises put me on edge), minimum talking to keep migraines at bay, and frequent use of sanitizer. Yes, anxiety disorders are sometimes accompanied with a phobia, mine was and happens to be germs. I considered a life of solitude. Anything could trigger an attack, and being in the presence of other children my age who were careless, obnoxious, immature, and above all, chatty, would be plenty to bear. I chose to stick to my original plan, and speak only when spoken to. I wouldn't make many friends, and school life would be tedious, but i figured it was a small price to pay for my sanity. Inevitably, I became a loner. By this time I had a strategy, and it's only rules were to survive the day however possible. It was working for me until my first public attack. I'd been idling throughout most of my English class, something I considered my strong suit. Then, without warning, the teacher instruct the class to write an essay on an absurd topic, which will determine our writing ability. I freeze immediately. Everyone has started, words falling onto the paper. Yet for me, not a thing of value comes to mind. Thoughts start to race and I become nauseous. My breathing gets shallow and images blur. I'm about to go into orbit, when in the nick of time, I'm saved by the bell. It was arguably the worst experience of my life. After such a frightening ordeal, I came to and understanding. Reality was that, under my parents roof, I'd probably never receive medication further than Advil, so controlling my anxiety was completely up to me. I want to be stable, but I don't want to live under rock for the rest of my life. In my pursuit for balance, I'd come across herbal remedies and learn things like water intake, blood pressure, and stress can contribute to managing anxiety. Its likely that this will always be a struggle. The difference between then and now: I'm controlling my anxiety instead of letting it control me.




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1234wahoo said...
Dec. 26, 2010 at 11:31 pm:
wow intense story.... i also have anxiety which i am strugglign to control.... i drive myself insane and paranoid and i obsess and amm tense and somuch other stuff.... iv always been this way but this past month it has spiked up to a frighteningly almost absolutely all the time full blown axious state. i am at the age and actually same time frame, winter break, that u were wen urs startd (also in grade 8). wen i was younger my mother was aware of my issues, just she didnt think it was so severe ... (more »)
 
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Liou said...
Nov. 17, 2009 at 12:40 pm:
i like it! i can understand definitley
 
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writeitloud77 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 15, 2009 at 3:34 am:
really great writing.
 
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