I Suffered From Anxiety For Years And Didn’t Even Know It

I just came across this article and related to it so much, so I wanted to share it.

Aside from the having a baby part, this was basically me. I went my entire life feeling the exact same way as this woman did. Believing that it was just part of my personality or that it was normal or all in my head.

Even though I was incredibly stressed out about the way I felt, I thought it was normal. As an adult, I became convinced that I was simply incapable of coping with the shit life throws at you where everyone else always managed to get through it. I didn’t know that I could get help.

“You’re just shy, you will get over it,” and, “Once you get up there you will be fine!” is what I was told.  Another gem was, “Everyone has some degree of social anxiety ― it’s normal.” Or my all-time favorite, “Nobody likes public speaking. You just do it.”

People told me all the same things. I grew up convinced that I was shy. And I was, to an extent. I’ve realized in the past year that I don’t actually think I’m shy at all. Well, a little, but not nearly as much as I thought.

I silently suffered for years and years and never even realized what I was feeling was more than just being shy. I just thought that was how life was, and what I felt and the reactions I had to situations were normal. People would always tell me to “calm down” and “relax,” “everything will be fine,” and so I just brushed it off as irrational worries.

I am mostly an introvert, in the sense that being around people is extremely exhausting for me and I need my alone time to rebuild my energy. But my actual personality (among many other things) has been held back by my irrational fears, particularly in my social life.

I don’t enjoy interacting with people, unless it’s in a meaningful manor. I prefer deep conversation over small talk. I prefer hanging out, doing something low key, rather than going out to events. Sitting on my friend’s couch talking is far more appealing than going shopping or to a bar or whatever. I can handle going out for dinner but it’s not my favourite thing either.

I tend to not express feelings and opinions mostly out of fear. So many people have made me feel inadequate so many times when I have opened up in the past. In addition to fearing what they will think or say, I also feel extremely uncomfortable having all eyes on me. That’s the main reason why I hate celebrating my birthday. I don’t like the attention.

Paranoid, frustrated, always on edge, and angry had become MY normal.

I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. It continued to get worse the older I got because I was constantly hurt by others whenever I tried to explain how something made me feel. From the simple “suck it up” or “get over it” to the “don’t be over dramatic” or the guilt trip of “other people have it so much worse, you have nothing to complain about.” I’ve heard it all. And I’ve heard it from the people who are supposed to love and support me. I remember these things being said to me as early as six years old. That can be extremely damaging to a child.

I finally realized maybe being mad and frustrated and annoyed at the world all the time wasn’t normal. Maybe feeling like the rug is being ripped out from under you, or that you are running from a giant wave that is constantly nipping at your heels, ready to crash over you and drown you at any second, isn’t normal.

The year leading up to finally being diagnosed with anxiety, I was so incredibly overwhelmed and stressed that I was beginning to show outward symptoms. In the past, it had only really happened around my family (yet they still wouldn’t acknowledge that something was wrong). But it was happening at work. At that point in time, work was the greatest stressor in my life. There was a lot going on. But I did have a coworker bring up the fact that I was sometimes a bit hard or short with other coworkers. At that point, I thought I simply had an anger problem. I was always pissed off about something, and for the most part, I kept it to myself. It would build up inside me to the point where I was completely incapable of thinking about anything else. I couldn’t get any work done, and at that point in time, I was essentially doing the jobs of three people. Although everyone else was stressed, none of them seemed to be stressed to the extent that I was. The reason I didn’t quit my job them is because I had convinced myself I was terrible at everything and would never be hired by anyone else. I felt like a complete failure at life.

I know now that all of that was a very obvious sign of anxiety and depression, but at that time, I didn’t know what anxiety was and I didn’t have enough of an understanding of depression to recognize that either, even though I was sure I’d experienced it in the past, I really didn’t know.

I can now see that it is obviously not normal to be mad at the world all the time, paranoid everyone is against me, freaking out over the littlest thing, like someone putting the groceries away in the wrong place, or coming home from the market with the wrong type of milk. I know I cannot undo the past, and although sometimes I look back at that time and feel embarrassed, ashamed and angry at myself for not recognizing my irrational behavior sooner, I know now that because I suffered unknowingly with anxiety for such a long time, I could not have been able to recognize it any sooner, even if I wanted to.

It’s now been about a year and 8 months since I was first diagnosed. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs. I’m still dealing with it. I’m still struggling. I’ve had periods where I’ve had more good days and I’ve had periods where I’ve had more bad days. Right now, I’m having more bad days, even though things are going really well (more depression than anxiety right now). I just have to keep reminding myself that it’s ok.

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