Ali Iacono – Staff Writer -
Imagine breaking out in a cold sweat every time you get on the highway and when those monster tractor trailers surround your view. Imagine struggling to control your breathing every time you prepare to give a presentation. Imagine feeling as though you were face-to-face with death and experiencing a heart attack.
Well, I don’t have to imagine. I have diagnosed myself with extreme anxiety and trust me; the things I described above aren’t even the beginning of the daily struggle I face with this issue. My anxiety generally kicks in whenever I am stressed out. Of course, seeing as I am a college student, this happens a lot. Whenever I am given an assignment, I immediately feel overwhelmed, even if it is weeks away from being due. During an anxiety attack, my body tenses up and I get a heavy feeling in my chest. Sometimes it feels as though my breath is shortening, which only makes the matter worse. The worst part is I have absolutely no control over it. I literally have to sit there and let the attack run its course.
I understand that everyone deals with anxiety especially when they are stressed; however, the degree of anxiety varies from person to person. I feel as though my level of anxiety has reached a point where I should probably get put on medication for it.
Now I know what you’re thinking, this girl is nuts. Maybe I am. But I wasn’t always this way.
Though I can’t control my anxiety, I am fully aware of how it all initiated. After unexpectedly losing my mother to a heart attack, my mind started playing games with me. Anxiety introduced itself to me and as unwelcome as it was, my body accepted it. I’ve spent endless nights tossing and turning, thoughts of what my mom must have felt when she was laying in her bed the night she passed bombarded my mind. I felt as though I was reliving her experience through my own body. I convinced my mind and body that I was going numb on my left side, a prominent sign of a stroke. I remember racing to the bathroom one night in sheer panic (for some reason sitting on the bathroom floor is comforting for me. Just me? Okay.) I sat on the cold ground rocking back and forth as the monster I call anxiety completely invaded my being.
Of course, I wasn’t actually dealing with a heart attack, but my anxiety forced me to think otherwise. Fortunately, I haven’t had another attack like that since that night on my bathroom floor. However, my anxiety still reacquaints itself with me on a regular basis.
I’m a waitress, and if you are a waiter or waitress, you can understand the stresses that comes along with the job. This is usually when my inner crazy woman comes out and my anxiety is in full force. Being responsible for someone’s evening whether it is a casual dinner date or some sort of celebration is more of a daunting responsibility than it sounds. If something goes wrong, the finger is automatically going to be pointed at you which, first off majorly sucks for your self-esteem and also your chances of receiving that 18 percent tip just went down the toilet. I try not to let my craziness get the best of me when I’m at work, but sometimes it’s truly unavoidable, especially since my boss is super cool and likes to under staff on Friday and Saturday nights when we’re be ridiculously busy.
So now that you all think I’m psychotic, I want to assure you that I’m not. Despite how messed up my mental health might sound after reading, this I can promise that I’m a healthy person that’s just struggling with an issue that I’m sure many of you could relate to if you’re willing to. Having extreme anxiety can really put a damper on things, but like they say in AA meetings the first step is admitting you have a problem–no, I do not attend AA meetings. It was a joke. A really bad joke. I’m at a point where I’m trying to cope with my anxiety without medication and I’ve realized that talking and writing about it really calms me down. It’s never beneficial to anyone to keep their emotions trapped inside their minds because chances are eventually they will experience a complete meltdown. Be open to discussing your issues and facing your inner demons; the results can only be rewarding.