The past seven days have been torture.
I have always known I have a tendency to overthink and become extremely anxious in mundane situations. But never to this extent. It was as though my body was being commanded by a force that didn’t belong to me. My pulse would race continuously, showing no signs of relenting. This was all while my body was sat perfectly still in a seat. My body was betraying me as I would find nausea engulfing me, clouding my thought. My sweat glands were on overdrive, and a skim of my finger across a sheet of paper would render it damp. Water was pouring out of my system like a cell in a hypertonic solution, my muscles tensing without my notice.
It was a battle in waves. The opponent would fire volleys of flames into my belly at random intervals, pause to let me barely extinguish them before attacking once more. The scariest thing? I was the enemy. Anxiety has been eating away at me the last couple of days and it all reached a boiling point today at school. It had initially begun during last week’s Calculus test when my teacher’s well meaning advice of “relaxing and breathing” because she saw the nerves in student’s eyes when she handed out the test, ended up triggering something that had remained buried in my subconscious. It brought the fear into the forefront, and it was like the understudy to a performance; the moment you let it have the spotlight, is the moment it begins to develop a strong greed for attention. Gradually, it started to demand for more screen time, creeping into my biology class, then my exercise science, then into my naps in the car, and into my studying at the library in the morning. Even when there was no test, the anxiety remained, its presence bleeding into every part of my daily life.
I started crying. It was the only catharsis I could find. The issue with that is when it starts, there is no way of stopping. It was like opening up a dam and pouring all the water into a barren desert. The desert would soak up the water and demand more to replenish itself. It was greedy just like the understudy to the play. But not as sadistic.
I wounded up telling my teachers about my anxiety and luckily they were all very understanding. I first approached my biology teacher to warn her that I may not do so well on the test because I was dealing with the physiological disturbances and she called my counsellor and set up a meeting for me with her. I had been reluctant to tell anyone about when it first started happening because I didn’t want to feel like a disappointment, I didn’t want to seem weak. But the thing is, I realize that there is a certain strength in vulnerability and being able to admit it when you are having a problem so that you can begin to heal.
So off I went to see the counsellor at her office where I had another good sob just to release the tensions. She walked me through different strategies to deal with my anxiety and I have to start practicing some meditation on my own time so that when the understudy insists on performing once again, I can tell her to fuck off.
My counsellor tried to put everything in perspective in that I had been carrying a little too much in my metaphorical ‘backpack’ and everyday, I should try to empty it out before tackling a new day. She reassured me that like anything in life, anxiety too, will pass. She asked me if I had spoken to anyone in my family about it, and I had only told my sister. She encouraged me to speak to my mom about it, so I unwillingly brought it up today. It wasn’t poorly received necessarily, but unsurprisingly, my mom was surprised. She thought it was out character to hear me struggle with nervousness because I have always had the reputation of being the calm one in the family. This was one of my concerns that I brought up with my counsellor and she told me that just because I get anxious doesn’t mean I can’t be a calm person in general. Everyone is prone to becoming victims of their mentality and I learned a valuable lesson this week on how our mental state plays a tremendous role in the manifestation of reality around us, how we function, and how we feel.
Most importantly, I learned that it’s important to ask for help when you need it and that it takes a hell lot of courage to speak up sometimes. I have developed a lot more compassion for others battling seemingly invisible forces of their own. Staying connected to people means staying healthy and this is coming as an epiphany for someone like myself who always thought being independent was the biggest priority. It’s ok to seek the comfort of others at times, it’s ok to be vulnerable, it’s ok to feel like you need someone for help. It made me realize that in a world where we constantly confuse trivial things like grades, social status, or wealth for being indicators of happiness, the truest measure is in the relationships you build with those around you.
If any of you are reading this who may be struggling against an understudy of your own, or maybe even future Selina who has encountered another hiccup along the road, behold the view of the people around you, the people that care, never lose sight of the things that truly matter. Simplify things, will this matter in ten years? Then you can begin to marvel at the lightness you will feel in your core, how effortlessly oxygen seems to stream into your body, nourishing every cell within you, every little part of you that keeps you ALIVE.
In the mean time, I will keep you posted on how this meditation thing goes.
Until next time.