T/w : Anxiety
Anxiety. A three syllable word that is an uninvited guest in a lot of lives these days.
I realize everyone has their own story and difficulties. Here is mine, I hope it encourages a healthy conversation towards normalizing mental afflictions, learning and growing from them.
I have struggled with anxiety all my life. There is this voice inside my head that constantly tells me I am not good enough. Not smart enough. Not pretty enough. It was loud and bold and quickly became integral part of me. My entire life revolved around fueling this toxic relationship
Every time I took a day off to relax, to spend time with my friends or to just spend some time with myself, this demon would whisper in my ears. Soft at first, and then louder as the day went by. By the end of the day I felt so terrible that I pushed myself exuberantly hard the next day. And the vicious cycle continued.
I recognized it every now and then, when people around me seemed to be a lot more content and tranquil than I was. I was constantly jittery and doing a mental calculation of all the things I didn’t do in a day. And it became a habit. One I fueled and encouraged all the time.
And I convinced myself I was okay, that it was normal to feel this way. To be incredibly successful and still feel small. To never be at peace, to constantly second guess and doubt yourself. It was only when I started manifesting physical symptoms, that I was really worried. My eyes would twitch and I would constantly shake my legs. I would get headaches and stomach upsets on a daily basis. My body was forcing me to take notice of this demon. But I still ignored it. I was in love.
Perhaps, the love was driven by fear. I didn’t know who I would be without my ally, who pushed me to excel. Sure, it was at the cost of my sanity and peace but who really thinks about that? I was doing really well, and as the academic achievements rolled in my anxiety only grew.
It was only during this period of lock down, where I was forced to take notice of this entity that had become so intrinsically woven with my being, that it was me. It was not easy. I always thought that I had to deal with life on my own and fix my own problems. I always struggled to talk about what was bothering me. But this time, I knew I needed to push those boundaries. So, I sought help from friends, family, loved ones. I made a conscious effort to recognize and manage this entity, which is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I wrote, a lot and the words were almost cathartic, like releasing a piece of my soul into the universe. I tried meditation, emotional freedom techniques, deep breathing and even talking to a a professional. It was liberating. But it also left this lingering fear.
I worry about who I’ll be without the anxiety. Will I achieve as much? If I don’t, will people stop loving me? Will I stop loving myself?
It’s a long journey to loving myself as I am, flaws and all. I realize that I don’t want to be the person who is constantly worried. Who is incapable of feeling anything else because her brain is completely filled with thoughts of inadequacy. I am working hard to constantly check myself every time I catch myself feeling that way.
I would not normally share such intimate details of my life on a public forum. But I believe this is something we need to talk about and address. Far too many people are suffering from these issues and do not even recognize it, let alone address it. I wanted to change my narrative and hope that this will motivate others to also recognize that they can change it, should they choose to.
The journey to self love is arduous and long, but I’m so glad I finally caught the train. By no means have I reached a place of calm but I’m on my way. To anyone out there, who has ever felt this way – it gets better, just be at it and believe in yourself. You’ll be amazed at the mountains you can move.
This is a verse I had written a couple of months ago, describing my relationship with anxiety. It doesn’t end on a happy note, and that is a reminder to me of how important it is to keep working on it and not spiral out of control. At the end of the day, to borrow words from the wise, ‘happiness can be found in the darkest of times, only if one remembers to turn on the light’.
I blinked And there he was My dear old friend Each time I think he’s gone There he is, At my door step, again I smiled, He loves me. He really cares I want him, inside me He’s already there. A love that cackles, when I fall, A love that whispers, when I sleep, A love that wants to see me crawl, Relishing the tears I weep. I cannot take it anymore, Please leave. Your voracious appetite, I cannot appease. Don’t you need me? he said To fan your flames. To cast your resplendence on the world The faithful companion behind your name. Who are you without me? I screamed, He’s even bigger now. Stronger. His arms engulf me in an embrace. My fiercest ally lies between my ears. Exhorting me to win the race. His voice is louder now. Crystal clear over the cacophony. ‘Run, faster, run’ he said I’m out of breath, I cry in agony. The voice is enervating, Crawling under my skin, War ravaged the head and the heart, Said he, ‘You need to win’ I thrashed, I shouted He’s even louder now. I’m trying to fight. He’s draining every drop of light. Gone is the sparkle in my eyes I have lost all pretense. I have nothing more to give There was only deathly silence.