I like to refer to myself as a walking contradiction. I hate waiting in line and little children, but I go to Disneyland any chance I get. I love getting new clothes, but I hate going to the mall. I need to make my bed every morning to feel neat, but there are clothes and empty Amazon boxes thrown around the room.
I don’t understand how I have come to be this massive contradiction, but I have noticed it also heavily pertains to my perception of my anxiety. I try not to let my anxiety define me. Yet, my experience with high-level general and social anxiety has shaped me into the person I am today.
I always had a highly activated nervous system, even as a baby. When my parents would leave the house, I would cry and cry until I threw up. I couldn’t have sleepovers or go to camp. I even had a hard time the first couple years of elementary school.
Looking back, I now realize I have been anxious for a long time, but these symptoms presented themselves as normal child behavior. Being able to recognize this from the other side of my diagnosis is extremely important to me. I now better understand myself and the choices I made, as well as my thoughts and behaviors throughout my entire life. I would not change the lessons I had to learn and the obstacles it took for me to get to know myself. I am proud of my mental illness.
However, it is exponentially harder to do basically anything in life when you are have severe anxiety. It is hard for me to sit still in the workplace and concentrate on a big project for an extended period of time. It is hard for me to communicate with my superiors when something is bothering me. It is even harder for me to choose what to eat for dinner sometimes because my brain is in sport mode.
I had an unfortunate experience at work the other day, where I was reprimanded for what was perceived as goofing off on my phone. In reality, I was trying to self-care in the form of playing a mindless game on my phone and texting my mom. These are tools I have had to learn to use to cope with my anxiety in a high-stress environment, and it completely backfired. It was here when I had to explain this situation to my superior and essentially use my anxiety as an excuse for not acting in a professional manner.
It was weird to directly blame my anxiety for my behavior because I never thought trying to take care of myself could ever be considered wrong. The choices I make are the ones I know are going to make me happy. I have to take into consideration how my anxiety is going to be triggered because of the situations I’m in.
I do talk about having social anxiety and being exhausted at the end of a work day, but it’s not something I try to use as an excuse. I accept being a giant contradiction. I am proud of the person I have become because of it. It may be complicated at times, but it always feels right.