Why My Anxiety Means I Set My Alarm 30 Minutes Early

I always set my alarm clock for 30 minutes before I have to get out of bed. Why? Most people think it’s because I have a hard time waking up, but really, the hardest part comes after I am fully awake. The hard part is when my heart is racing as soon as I think about placing my feet on the floor. It’s the twist that turns my stomach once I worry about if I’ll have enough time to get to work. It is the uneasy feeling knowing I must drive through the same intersection I got into a car accident at earlier this year. It is the worry in knowing that even seeing another car approaching could send me into a panic attack.

Yet, I get up and brush my teeth anyway. I shower anyway. I get dressed, put my makeup on and fix my hair anyway. Life isn’t supposed to be so hard. Life isn’t supposed to be so filled with worry, but it is. I’m trying the best I can to live it anyway.

I’m doing something a little different than I used to though. You see, I used to try to cover this part of me. I used to hide the anxiety-filled section of my heart and hope it didn’t find its way into the world where it could get hurt. Over the course of a year and multiple panic attacks at the grocery store, I’ve found the strength to talk about my mental illness.

Some days are easier than others. I have accepted life will not always have days filled with easy decisions and wonderful outcomes. There are days I want to be alone so desperately. Once I am, I cry because I’m so lonely and convince myself I am unloved. There are nights when I will get out of bed anywhere between one to six times to check and make sure I locked the doors of my house. There are mornings where I sing so loudly (and terribly) in my car, as the person stuck in traffic beside me stares, because it’s the only thing that will keep me from hyperventilating and crying.

We try too hard to cover the symptoms, but even with all of the therapy, breathing techniques and medication, this thing is still a part of us. This is not something that will go away if we try hard to think positively. This will not go away if we sleep more. (Chances are, even if we go to bed early, we still won’t fall asleep before 2 a.m.)

To the average person, I might seem “fine” or maybe a little frazzled on a bad day. Some people may not even think there is anything wrong with me because there isn’t. It’s time we stop treating mental illness like the elephant in the room. It’s time we stop being ashamed of something we can’t control. It’s time to start being proud of every beautiful, anxiety-filled cell in your body.

Your brain tells you to give up every day, but you get up and live anyway. So even though your days might be more difficult than someone without a mental illness, it doesn’t make you less of a person. A mental illness does not make you inferior to someone who doesn’t have a mental illness, but it might make you more brave. Keep fighting.

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