A friend of mine started her blog on how to deal with anxiety, and for the first time, I’m proud to be a part of the conversation.
I’ve been talking to a few of my LGBTQ friends lately, and I’ve heard some of them talk about their issue with the phrase, “coming out.” Why should they have to announce a natural part of themselves when every straight person out there just does what they do without any formal explanation to the world? I started really thinking about that, and although I can’t relate directly, this concept is still relevant to me. I grew up with anxiety and pretty intense OCD at times, and according to social cues, that wasn’t cool. Like my friends who were questioning their sexuality, I was questioning my sanity, and I decided to keep it a secret, for a long time, in fear people would judge me, until now. Because years of hiding a very crucial part of myself has gotten me nowhere, and I am at a point where I realize that people will judge me. That’s okay. I am also at a point where I can confidently say, fuck it– this is me. I’ve read a few articles on mental health recently and found myself so relieved and excited about being able to relate to someone who had the courage to be vulnerable and help people feel a little less alone. If I can be that to one person, then that’s good enough for me. Above all, this is a tribute to my younger self, who would have been terrified to come out as “anxious” and probably needed a little more love from herself–you’re going to be just fine.
I have anxiety and OCD. If you’re not familiar, OCD is categorized under anxiety and has a broad range of symptoms. I don’t have the usual kind of OCD–I’m not obsessively clean, and I don’t turn the lights on and off 17 times – however, there have been tougher circumstances that have brought that out. Many of my close friends never even knew I had OCD, primarily because a lot of it is internal. This is because my OCD manifests in the form of obsessive thoughts. I will meet a new person, go on a date, go to a party, and my mind’s first reaction is to obsessively check myself. Did I do anything stupid that could’ve offended person A? Does person B think I’m weird for saying that? What if he thinks I’m just “too much?” Should I say less so that they like me? Ugh, I shouldn’t have done that. I probably looked so awkward. Fuck, am I the crazy girl for texting him first? Or saying how I feel? What if he doesn’t like how I feel? Maybe I should just let it go and pretend to be fine. (No). The list goes on. It feels embarrassing even writing this out, but I wouldn’t be showing my authentic self if I kept this part of me a secret. If I ask for reassurance, it’s just because I feel compelled to do so. The nature of OCD is to obsess and follow a compulsion in order to temporarily relieve the anxiety. Of course, this isn’t the practical method, and even armed with all the greatest coping strategies in the world, I still slip up. It’s human nature. So if I ask you if something is wrong, be patient with me. It’s only because I spent the last 30 minutes carefully outlining every single worst case scenario, and I need you to tell me my mind is playing tricks on me. I know this, and I don’t need your validation all the time, but don’t get frustrated when I do.
Contrary to popular belief, there is something extremely special about people with anxiety. We’ve probably imagined every single side to every story and all of the possible outcomes to go with it. The good news is that we have a great sense of compassion, empathy and sensitivity for every person’s story. We know what it feels like to imagine the worst and feel like it’s real. It’s second nature to take a step in your shoes, and really, truly feel for you. For me, I always appreciate when someone has compassion for my situation, so my first reaction is to try and understand yours.
My friend Jenna recently started her blog, Little Mountains, to be a voice in changing the popular belief that anxiety is weakness. Thank you for inspiring me to share a piece of myself I labeled as unlovable for the longest time and sharing your story fearlessly. I am so proud of you.
To my over-thinkers, there will be people that think you’re “crazy.” Anxiety or not, that is a fact for everyone, not just you. In fact, if you’re like me, you might have a fear that every tiny micro movement you make will come off “crazy,” so much so, that you probably haven’t even done half the “crazy” shit some of your friends have gotten away with. *Note: if you’re fire texting the boy you like and he’s not responding, that is a little crazy, and you need to turn your phone off.* A few months back, I actually expressed to someone that I felt hurt by their actions, to which they responded that they didn’t want me going “emotionally crazy over something so small.” It was in that moment that I realized being called my worst fear only meant that the person on the other end, who thought it was okay to say that, was the crazy one.
Anxiety and OCD, in my story, have been a way for me to cope with desperately wanting to live a beautiful life. To always be in the right place at the right time, to make the most of every opportunity, to be the perfect person to everyone I meet, to never mess up, and to never miss out: I thought this was just me being hard on myself. It was actually a part of me that was as anxious as ever about making sure I was cherishing every single second of what it means to be alive.
When you’re spiraling, show compassion. When you’re shaking, find acceptance. When you feel compelled to hold on, let go.
There’s a reason we crave the candid. You cannot perfect every moment of life. Let go.
For more on how to deal with anxiety, visit Little Mountains by one of my favorite humans, Jenna Lazzarone. We’re in this together :).
Any and all comments about your experience are welcome! I’d love to hear your story.