For anyone who has battled with anxiety, you know exactly how terrifying a sudden panic attack can be. Or how frightening it feels when you feel like you’re having a heart attack in the middle of a lecture (my first panic attack). My 12 year battle with anxiety has had it’s ups and downs. There have been times where it was very manageable, and there have been times where I had to stay home from school from either not sleeping the night before, having trouble breathing in the morning, etc. For anyone who has not battled with consistent anxiety, God Bless You. I would never wish this pain upon someone else.
The thing about anxiety is that most of the time, there is no root cause as to why you are suddenly feeling nervous, worried, scared, etc. Most of the time, it just creeps up on you unexpectedly, and leaves you wondering what the fuck is going on. Sometimes I’m sitting at my desk and literally have to take deep, long breaths and question myself, “Is there something coming up soon? Did I do something wrong at work? Did I say something by accident? Why do I feel like I’m going to collapse?” I’m constantly questioning what went wrong for me to feel this way. Sometimes, there are natural and obvious causes for anxiety like before a big presentation, before an interview, a first date, etc. It is natural for someone to start feeling anxious before an event they are not entirely comfortable or familiar with. People who are diagnosed with GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) have consistent anxiety that is not caused by anything in particular, but keeps them from living a normal life. Something like Social Anxiety Disorder (or social phobia) is obviously caused from discomfort/fear in social settings. People are not limited to only having one type of anxiety diagnosis, however, all these people affected are constantly having issues living a life without consistent fear.
I was diagnosed with GAD when I was 13, along with being diagnosed with anorexia and depression. My anxiety was closely associated with the fear and discomfort I had with my body, self-esteem, and eating in front of others at the time. I isolated myself from friends and family, and had fears of eating out or socializing in public. Fast-forward 12 years later, I am in a strong state of recovery with my eating disorder, and have never been happier with my life and accomplishments. However, I learned years ago that without the addition of medication, my panic attacks were continuously coming to visit at various moments in my life.
I currently am on anti-anxiety/depression medication, and have been managing my anxiety better than ever. I do not judge anyone on their choice of treatment, and I hope no one chooses to judge me on mine. Along with cognitive behavioral therapy, I have been doing quite well with managing my panic attacks and states of worry. However, there is no absolute cure for mental illnesses, it’s just about learning how to manage it.
Lately, my overall anxiety has been pretty quiet. I have been pretty content with my body image, my career, and my circle of friends. The type of anxiety I have been dealing with lately is something that is new to me: boy anxiety.
I don’t want to call it “dating anxiety” since I rarely get anxious before 1st dates or meeting a new guy. Usually when I am out with my friends (and after I have ingested a few gin and tonics), I have no fear approaching a guy first. Probably 9/10 times it has worked out, too. However, this is the deeper, after the first date anxiety. This is the anxiety of starting to “like” someone, which I have not felt in years. I have been single for 4 years and all the people that I’ve met or dated I never really had a strong interest in, or I could tell that it would never be something long-term. I’m currently in the stage of: we’ve hung out twice, and I have no idea if he wants to just date casually or pursue something long term. I am freaking petrified.
I talked to one of my guy co-workers about this and yes, maybe it is too soon to start thinking about that kind of thing, but it is the uncertainty of not knowing that scares the shit out of me. I can usually tell whether a guy is a “commitment guy” or a grade A fuckboy. It’s rare, but sometimes there are genuine guys who just don’t want anything serious, also. Sometimes, they are just not that into you. With this guy I have been seeing, everything has been pretty awesome. We hit it off right away when we met – I saw him staring at me, and I was staring at him. I went over to my friend Sam and purposely dropped my straw on the floor. She said, “Why’d you just do that?” With my plan already set in stone, I said, “I obviously need a new straw now. I”m going over to the bar.” He was coincidentally standing right next to the box of straws at the bar. Immediately he initiated conversation as I reached over him for what I needed. After that, the rest was smooth sailing. We had a great time that night, and we went out for drinks the week after. I met his friends, and they are awesome. They seem to like me which I find to be a great sign. But now, here I am, staring at my phone wondering, “do I text him or do I wait for him to text me?”
I’m just utterly confused. I’m not used to this anxiety. I’m not used to having feelings for someone and thinking about them constantly. I’m used to stressing out about not working out, or the way my stomach looks in the morning, or coming home to a messy room. I am not used to liking a guy. It’s been forever, and I honestly feel like I’m a little kid learning how to ride a bike. “What do I say? How do I dress? Do you think I look OK?” It’s exhausting! Why the heck do we do this? My therapist just said, “Just live in the moment, Kelc. Just go with the flow and take it day by day. If he texts you, he texts you. If he doesn’t, then it wasn’t meant to be. His loss.” But wait, live in the moment? So you’re saying, don’t think about texting him or if we will hang out again? So now I have to consciously think to not think about thinking about him… fuck. How do people naturally not stress about this shit? I am at loss for a starting point. I almost wish I was back to having an emotionless soul since at least I wouldn’t be so freakin’ confused like I am now. They say that there is beauty in the unknown, but for me it’s more like a panic attack.
We all can be better the next day compared to the day before. My goal is to try and Live in the Moment as my therapist says. I think females naturally tend to think about the future, since many of us feel the pressure of getting married and having kids by a certain age. But I do have to admit, I rather be stuck in this current uncertainty than be stressing about the next 70 or so years that I have ahead of me. That’s a lottttttt to worry about. I guess I will just have to see where the unknown unravels to.
How do you Live in the Moment?