The thing I carry most is more metaphorical than physical. It slows me down from progressing as fast as I should because I keep doubting myself. It weighs me down like an anchor at the bottom of the ocean that I can’t get untangled from. I feel its weight keeping me away from the surface where everyone else is going through their daily life without a problem. They don’t even notice me stuck in the depths of the water unable to call for help in fear of drowning. It’s the feeling of suffocating, or shallow breathe but not getting any air at all. It smells faintly of salt like the tears shed in private when no one is watching. My vision is blurry from the water pooling in my eyes, but I am physically unable to get rid of it.
It is something you can’t physically see but is portrayed by me throughout my daily life. When I have to speak in public and my heartbeat doubles, and I may stumble over my words. Getting so worked up that my breaths become shallow as I try and sometimes fail to calm down, and not finding the physical ability to use my voice, to answer questions or contribute to a conversation that I so desperately want. Living in constant fear that I’ll say or do the wrong thing, or worrying that everyone is judging everything I do even though they most likely aren’t even paying attention to me at all. It makes me focus on the stuff I do wrong rather than the stuff I do right. This anchor of mine is something I’ll carry for the rest of my life, never to be rid of. Maybe some day my shackles will loosen and give me some freedom, but for now I go on carrying the weight of my anxiety.
I remember this one time, I was at a dance competition. The day had started off not so good. I was exhausted from dancing the day before and having very little sleep the past night. Memories of the morning fighting with my mom and sister still fresh in my brain. Emotionally I was unstable and I felt myself slipping. The place was huge; the school was two stories with room after room, and an auditorium big enough for a few hundred people. The noise was overwhelming. People talking, laughing, screaming, yelling, cheering, and clapping. Music of different genres able to be heard no matter where you were. Whether you’re in the auditorium watching, practicing for your own dance, or listening just for entertainment while you wait, the place is filled with music. While it’s normally exciting and pumps me up, all it did was give me a headache and make me panic.
There was one person who simultaneously was the thing that kept me grounded, and who walked me to the edge of the cliff. She was the kind of person who may seem unapproachable, not because they looked mean or untrustworthy, but because they seemed like they were always stuck in an inner turmoil of sadness. Instead of resting b**ch face, she had resting sad face. However, she was my best friend. The person you tell everything too, not having to worry about being embarrassed or having to hold back. When I needed someone, she was there for me to talk to because that was the kind of person she was. She helped others as much as possible but neglected to help herself for a while. On the other hand, she was also part of the problem. Unfortunately, her turmoil was too much, and she began ignoring me. I lost my person to talk to. I began to wonder if I did something wrong because she wouldn’t talk to me like normal.This is the time when the anchor became heavier and began pulling tighter. I started to fold into myself and couldn’t find a way to stop it. It felt like I had no control over the situation and those feelings transferred over into the rest of my life.
The experience of carrying this weight has made me stronger. It has made me the person I am today. There are times I wish never had to carry anxiety because of all the things I missed out on, but at the same time, I don’t know if I’d be the same person I am now. I’ve learned to cope with it though. To be able to push myself to not think so much and just do. With the help of my close friends, I have had days at a time where it doesn’t affect me at all. That isn’t to say that everything is perfect, but now sometimes I can see the sun above the water instead of complete darkness.