a story behind high functioning anxiety

Let me tell you a story about a little girl. If you looked at this little girl's life from the outside, you may think that she has it all. A strong loving family and everything a little girl could need to start out in a positive way. Now, this little girl went to church and then school and learned very quickly through some early learned and/or picked up habits of interacting with people. Without getting into the how or why for now - no matter where she went or what she did - it seemed that she would get picked on, used, abused, or let down. On top of that, fear started driving her every move and decision. So, picture waking up each and every day, dreading the thought of leaving the house... to go anywhere or do anything. Especially school. Dreading the people you would have to be around and how they would (purposefully or unintentionally) make you feel a even less like a person and more like - at best an inconvenience and at worst a problem. So, her life was spent hiding from people and situations - in the best ways she knew how - never feeling able to get up or move forward and never feeling like she was enough for anybody. . .ever.

Yet, growing up she was not really aware of the high level anxiety she was living in - I guess now would be the time that you would ask "how did she not know she was living with any level of anxiety, don't you know when you are you anxious - don't most people?". To this I guess I would tell you - she had no idea what it felt like to not live in that constant a state of anxiety or what it felt like to not have cortisol streaming through her blood system at any given moment.
This girl turned women's state of "normal" was and is a state of torture - thought racing, nail biting, emotional turmoil, second guessing her self at every turn, holding her breath or quick breathing, constant stomach aches, chest tightness, chronic pain, and heart fluttering, heart racing, eye twitches, headaches, and then migraines and the constant thought that you are NOT GOOD ENOUGH - this was "normal". She just lived with these symptoms, dealt with them and moved on assuming that everyone must live  "here" in some form of this state, thinking "this must me normal".

We all have things we go through that cause stress - but some people live in these higher anxious states all the time and a lot of the time we won't know it - these people live in what I call a state of high functioning anxiety. They are strong - usually stronger than they realize. You can't explain to anyone  how much it takes to get out of the bed in the morning, or talk to people, to speak to others with their head held up, to look people in the eye when they do talk to them. You will never know what goes through there heads, how they beat themselves up, have voices that constantly critique every word that comes out their mouth. How every single flaw is seen with the worlds largest magnifying glass. One dumb thing said or action done can be reviewed and analyzed for days. The tiniest things can set their minds off spinning in every direction, fearing you said to much or that nobody cares. Nothing is easy and nothing is said or done without angonizing amounts of thought first. Doing or saying something "off the cuff" is unheard of. Your body constantly confuses simple everyday tasks with being chased by a wild animal. Every single second is a venture outside of their comfort zone and they can never truly relax.

Imagine never feeling good enough - never feeling wanted, never feeling that you or your opinions are valid or wanted. Never looking people in the eye,  walking with your head and eyes lowered, never feeling like you could show your true self. Imagine feeling like you always have to do something to prove your worth to others - that no one could want to be around you for you - there would have to be something else - something more you could give them than just .. yourself. A place where disappointment is moment to moment reality. Where rejection starts on the outside and eventually becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. This is a very lonely place to live.
when you live in a world where you fear everything - where your mind is as scary a place as anywhere else -  where you torture yourself constantly more than anyone else could.

I am writing this to say that I have been here. I have lived this, and I continue to struggle with it every day, and especially with the physical side effects that come with the memories that are hidden in your mind and your nervous system. Yet, now as a 33 year old women - a small business owner, an entrepreneur, a compassionate philantropist, and a loving wife to an amazing husband - even though I still deal with and live with everything and more that is explained above every day.  I do my best to not let it get the best of me, every day I get up and do my best to think positive and believe in myself. It is tenacity and inner fortitude that says "I will conquor this" - every single minute I am alive. This will not beat me . . . I am enough  . . . and I take each breath a little deeper and each step I walk with my head a little higher. Each second I choose to believe in something different that the voices that demand time in my head space. Every single day I choose to live - I choose to face my fears and try to be all I can be. I choose to rise out of my ashes over and over again. I choose to focus my attention outside of myself. It is never easy and always feels like a battle of attrition fought to the death. Sometimes I am exhausted from it all and others I find are a little easier than I thought it would be - tis the nature of high functioning anxiety. But, as I tell myself many times a day, you are enough and you are not alone! We can change the world together, one action, one person, one day at a time!
#changetheworldwithme

-ac



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