This Baggage is OLD -- My Anxiety Story. Pt.1

It's a fact that everyone has anxiety. It's a normal emotion. It's a healthy emotion. It's good to have anxiety push adrenaline through your system when you are being chased by a zombie clown. Anxiety and fear is meant to protect us in harmful situations.

It's when that adrenaline (and other hormones) courses through your veins when it doesn't need to that is the problem. Like even when I'm on vacation, at one of my favorite places on the planet (I'll tell that story another time).

Everyone has a different story; this is just mine.


I seriously do not know what it's like to live anxiety free. In the last year, I did a study on Redemption. There was much reflection on the Exodus. Imagine what it was like when the slavery first began. There had to be a generation that knew the switch from freedom to slavery. They remembered what it felt like when things were "good" and "happy." Slowly, then, the freedom feeling was unknown to any of the Israelites. This is the generation I relate to. I don't know what it's like NOT to be anxious. It's inconceivable to me, just as being free was to the Israelites who spent their lives in slavery.

Some of my earliest memories are anxious memories. I remember many mornings crying after being dropped off at day care. The separation anxiety was overwhelming. I remember the day care providers saying things to me to try to comfort me. Nothing they said really ever worked.

My entire grade school experience was laden with anxiety. I missed countless days of school in 3rd and 5th grade particularly. My symptoms were always the same: stomach ache, nausea, feeling weak and tired, shallow breathing. There were so many trips to the doctor. Every visit, he said it was a "virus." Basically, now I realize, they just couldn't find anything wrong with me. Whatever was going on just needed to run its course.

My poor parents, I'm sure they were so frustrated. I'm sure they felt helpless and at a loss for what I was going through. Who would ever think their child had any reason to be anxious? My parents are amazing parents. I had everything I needed. There was nothing to be anxious about.

I distinctly remember feeling fine once I knew I didn't have to go to school. I spent my days drawing. I spent my nights playing as usual in my room. I remember one night, my mom walked into my room as I was playing "beauty pageant." Her words shook me to the core:

"Well, it looks like you are feeling better and you can go back to school tomorrow!"

Within the hour, sickness overcame me.

In fifth grade, I literally missed months worth of school. This was when my parents finally sought help other than my family doctor. I *think* they took my to a child therapist of some sort. I remember lots of mental tests. The doctor asked me SO many questions that I remember thinking were really dumb.

After this appointment. I had to go to school. Even if I had to take a break and go to the nurses office, I had to go and stay at school. That was it. I didn't get any coping strategies. I just had to feel the fear and do it anyway. That's a book, by the way... one that didn't help me very much.

Somehow, I coped on my own. I transitioned to Middle School, which for some people is a strange and awkward time. Middle school was a great change for me! However, I do remember pretty much EVERY morning during the car ride, I felt the symptoms of panic. After I got in the doors and started my day, I'd be fine for the most part with just occasional times of anxiety.

High school was also good to me. I played volleyball, danced on the performance team, and was a busy, social teenager. It was in high school however that I had some conversations with my dad about depression. I was showing some characteristics. I learned about my heredity and how my mom had dealt with it. It was the first time ANY kind of name to the things I was feeling.

To be continued...

Can any of you relate? Have you struggled with anything from a young age and didn't have a clue what was going on? Start a conversation in the comments.

6 comments:

  1. I can remember much anxiety over your anxiety but together we made it through. Love you much.

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    1. We did... I wouldn't have without you and mom!

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  2. I see this in a lot of students today. Social media and those doggone phones are a big part of this. Can you imagine exacerbating your preteen/teen anxiety with social media. It's a wonder kids can function today. Thanks for sharing this, Chris. I'm not sure I even knew what was happening with you. You are loved by many, including me!

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    1. With social media/phones PLUS all the activities. These kids are involved in EVERYTHING. I can't even imagine.

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  3. my anxieties have changed according to the season of life i'm in. i definitely struggled with anxiety in elementary, middle, and high school. some of it had to do with social stuff, not fitting in, clothes i would wear, fear of the unknown, bullying, etc. i certainly didn't know there was a term for how i was feeling, and i unfortunately didn't have parents that cared enough to know what was going on at the time.
    as a young adult i struggled immensely & was diagnosed with social anxiety. thankfully i have overcome that. it creeps up every now & then, but for the most part it's gone. i chose not to go the medication-route, and by the grace of God, it's something that's part of my past. but also, i think a big part of what has helped me get better is setting boundaries. i know it's cliché and possibly even an overused concept, but i can't help it - it works. i know what kind of social situations ignite a fury of anxiety within me, and i draw the line at whatever those situations are. if they are of somewhat importance, i'll try to think of a more comfortable alternative or compromise. i know some people don't understand that and might think i'm opting to be comfortable over facing my fears, but i've tried the alternative & it just exacerbates my anxiety and it's simply not worth it. and i'm talotally ok with that.
    i think the hardest part of the anxiety struggle is others who cannot empathize with it. compassion & empathy are as valuable as gold when you'rein the throes of anxiety!

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    1. Thank you for sharing this, Sara. We set boundaries in other areas of our lives so why is it any different with anxiety issues. As a good friend of mine says, "it's keeping your serenity." I don't see it as opting for comfort. Obviously you have faced the fear since you know it's a trigger; you've been there. So... it makes sense to me to draw the line.

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