“Just breathe. You’re okay.”
No, I’m not okay. No, everything is not fine. And fuck you, it is not all just in my head.
The pain in my chest, that is real. The dizziness and nausea, those are real. The vomit in the toilet, that’s real. The numbness of my lips and the sweat on my face, those are real.
The blurred vision and inability to speak coherently are real things that happen.
The fear, the pain, the agony. It is all real, and I am not okay.
Every day is a battle. The days I win, I am strong, fierce, independent, and full of pride.
The days I lose, I am weak, ashamed, scared, ugly, and full of doubt.
It usually starts with something minor- a tingle in my left arm, a flutter in my chest, a forgotten breath. I know the battle is approaching, and when the enemy comes to the front line, I know I stand no chance.
The anxiety attack is coming.
Something minor escalates into something major, and in my world, death is upon me.
I have so much more life to live. I have so many things I haven’t accomplished. I have so many places untraveled. I’ve lost the love of my life, and I won’t get the chance to tell him “I love you” one more time. I will never hug him again or hear his beautiful laugh one last time.
My parents. How will they cope with my death? They have done so much for me and given me support when I needed it. I want them to know they mean everything to me.
My friends have lifted me out of the dark and filled my life with laughter and most importantly, distractions. They are my rock and my soulmates.
I want my coworkers to know that they’re changing lives and that the world is better because they’re in it. There are so many things I want to tell people before the attack consumes me.
But I can’t tell them. Because I’m going to die. Right now, right here. I’m going to collapse, have a heart attack, and die. I can’t do all those things and live my life anymore because it’s about to end. My heart is pounding. And I am terrified.
Eventually, I de-escalate. I’m embarrassed for the texts and phone calls I have made to my ex-boyfriend and my friends. I’m ashamed because I should’ve listened to them; it was just anxiety.
I’m exhausted and depressed. I am scared. Scared that another battle will approach, and I’m too weak to fight again, so surely the next one will be real, and I will die.
But I haven’t died, and I haven’t learned to relax because “it’s just anxiety.” I have learned that anxiety is a demon who wants me to live in fear until the day he takes my life, and I have learned that the only option I have is to keep fighting.
Fighting the demon, fighting the stigma, fighting for my life.
Fighting anxiety one battle at a time.