By Lauren Jarvis-Gibson
I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. And I’ve had it since third grade, without even realizing what was going on with me. I just remember worrying all the time and fretting about things that other kids my age didn’t even think about.
My journey with this mental illness has been a bumpy road, to say the very least. I go through months without any symptoms, feeling carefree and happy. And then all of a sudden it hits me like lightning, and I can’t do anything to stop it.
It’s a very scary and smart disorder. Why? It makes you think things you wouldn’t normally think about. Thoughts pop into your head and you can’t make it stop. Your heart races and you can’t swallow any oxygen at all. And no matter how many times it happens, it’s still just as scary for me.
If I didn’t have anxiety, I would wake up every day with a clear head. I wouldn’t mindlessly go through my imaginary checklist, already overwhelmed about the day ahead of me.
If I didn’t have anxiety, I could go on road trips and vacations and concerts without a care in the world. I wouldn’t have to worry about car crashes, about feeling claustrophobic, about getting freaked out over overstimulation.
If I didn’t have anxiety, I could breathe. Really breathe. With no sharp inhales. With no pain in my chest. With no panic. With no real energy lost.
If I didn’t have anxiety, I wouldn’t have to wake up the next day after drinking, already panicking about what I did or didn’t do. Already worrying. About nothing.
If I didn’t have anxiety, I’d be a more supportive friend and companion and daughter. I’d answer all the phone calls and texts. I wouldn’t cancel the plans that I was so looking forward to. I wouldn’t be misunderstood.
If I didn’t have anxiety, I’d have better self esteem. I wouldn’t question my ability to write. I wouldn’t question myself as a person. I wouldn’t question my self worth and ability to love. I would just be content with just me.
If I didn’t have anxiety, I wouldn’t have to call my parents in the middle of an anxiety attack, begging for them to pick me up just to feel a little bit safer.
If I didn’t have anxiety, my brightest days would glow in the back of my mind for eternity. I wouldn’t have to walk around with a grey cloud following me around just waiting to pounce on me.
If I didn’t have anxiety, I wouldn’t be judged. Be judged by people who don’t understand. Who don’t understand that this is an illness. It’s a chemical imbalance in my brain that I cannot help.
If I didn’t have anxiety, I wouldn’t have to even explain myself every time I meet someone new or have to walk out early. I wouldn’t have to defend myself over something that is out of my control.
But here’s the thing —If I didn’t have anxiety, I wouldn’t be as strong as I am right now. I wouldn’t be as resilient and as brave. And I guess you could say, I wouldn’t even be me.