As I sit before this computer, watching the steam roll over the rim of my coffee cup, I realize that I'm exactly where I was at the beginning of the summer. I'm residing comfortably in my family home; I'm staring at the same walls I've encountered for twenty-one years. There is nothing wrong with this house, however, this is not where I pictured myself being a few months ago.
When I last posted, back in May, I thought I had everything figured out. My future was laid before me, in fact, I laid it there myself. I was going to be going away to school, begin working on a Bachelor's degree, have my own apartment, and get my first real job. Everything was going according to schedule by mid-August. I had an apartment all lined up. My class schedule was made. I was ready to become an adult. Only, I wasn't. The night before I was supposed to go sign my lease, and two days before classes started, I had a full blown panic attack. I would call it a mental breakdown of sorts, but I believe a mental implosion seems more accurate.
I ended up locking myself into a bathroom in the back of my house. For a long time no one searched for me; which was great, I wanted to be alone. I was curled up in this tightly wound ball, pressed into a corner of the room. Wedged between a rack of magazines and a toilet, I wrapped myself up as tightly as I could. I clung desperately to myself as my world spiraled out of control around me. I've suffered from panic attacks and anxiety disorders my entire life; but this was one of the worst episodes I had ever experienced. If you don't know anything about panic attacks (you blissfully ignorant bastard, you) they feel like you're having a heart-attack, epileptic seizure, and an asthma attack, all while being stabbed repeatedly and punched in the gut. If that sounds a bit dramatic, have a panic attack, and then get back to me.
Now, I know that any "normal" person would be nervous about moving out of their family home and starting a life on their own, but my fear was only heightened by my pre-existing anxiety disorder. Perhaps I should have seen this episode coming. Looking back, I dropped hints to everyone around me, myself included, that I was not ready to go, and that I was scared of what would happen if I did, in fact, leave. Furthermore, I've said I never wanted to attend the school that I was planning to go to this August, for as long as I can remember. So, you're probably asking youself, why in the world did I still plan on forcing myself to go to a school I didn't want to be at; and why did I still plan on moving out when all signs were pointed towards the fact that I wasn't ready?
Since I already sound like a completely unstable person, I might as well be totally upfront about all of my mental quirks. One of the perks of having severe anxiety, in my case, is that it is so often accompanied by depression. My entire life, I've battled this demon, anxiety. This demon likes to plan its attacks in waves. I can go months and keep my anxiety level low, and not have any panic attacks. Then, out of seemingly nowhere, (stress and change seem to be the biggest triggers for my anxiety, however anything can set it off) Boom! I can't control or supress my anxiety. When your entire world feels like it's out of your hands, life can seem pretty bleak. When my anxiety is at its worst, so is my depression.
Only very recently, because of some serious self-reflection, have I noticed my pattern. If I were to create a diagram of sorts, it would probably look something like this:
If you would, kindly ignore the ghetto-ness of the graphic, I just made it in five seconds. But it's a pretty accurate representation of what I go through. All of my issues stem from my anxiety. When I can't control my emotions, I get depressed because I desperately want to be like everyone else. I want to have control over my body. It's supposed to be MINE. But my short-circuted brain is like a hijacker, who controls my every move. When I'm depressed, and feeling hopeless, I feel the need for some sort of self-control. This desire to have some form of stabilty and self-control leads me down a road of eating disorders. It's this mentality of: If I can't control how my body reacts to my environment, and I can't make myself feel happier, I can damn sure control what food, and how much food I put into my body. It's a vicious cycle.
All too often , I feel like I'm war with myself. There's one side of me that is terrifically ambitious, bubbly, smart, and carefree. Then there's this darker side, that feels completely at odds with the world. This dark side wants to simply give up, and give in to it's demon. This is the side that was curled up in a ball, locked away in a bathroom. This side wanted to lay in the floor, and quietly die, so it wouldn't have to fight and feel so much internal pain and conflict. Luckily, this side didn't win, not yet. Isn't it funny, how even in the darkest of times, it's simply human nature to fight a bit harder and cling to every last remnant of hope?
Eventually, my sister came to my rescue (as she has my entire life). I won't share what she said to me, because there are some things that should remain private. Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that I should not sign the lease and that I should not force myself to attend school this Fall. I think I was so determined to overcome my anxiety, and force myself to be like all of my friends and peers, who are starting their Senior year of college, that I lost sight of what I really wanted and needed.
When I decided to back out of everything I had spent years working towards, I sealed my fate. I don't know how much stock I put into things like destiny and fate, but for the sake of explanation, I'll say that I believe we are all given two paths in life. Neither path is better than the other, they simply take us on different journeys. I have decided to take the longer journey of the two. I don't know where it will lead, but I do know where it will start: with healing. This Summer has been the most core-shaking, life-altering experience of my life, thus far. For the time being, my focus is entirely on gaining control over my mind and body. I don't know how I will gain this control (but I'll keep you posted).
I'm tired of trying to be like everyone else. I think that was the main problem I faced this Summer. The ambitious and driven side of me desperately wanted to fall into the same category as my friends: college student at the inception of their future. That's a remarkable journey to be on, however it's not my journey; not at this time. I have this sinking suspicion that if I had forced myself down that path, I would not have made it to the end (you can draw your own inference on what exactly I mean by that).
So here I sit, with a now empty cup of coffee before me, and a prescription for healing and self-growth. I would greatly appreciate it if you would ignore all of the spelling and grammatical mistakes this post is certainly riddled with. I typed this entire thing out in one go, kind of like a stream of consciousness. I just needed to get my feelings down and out of my body. Also, if you could, refrain from judging me. We all have our own demons to fight, and I am trying to be brave and share mine with others. I'm taking my first steps down this road today, who's coming with me?
Lindsey. Twenty-Five. Currently pursuing a degree in Professional Writing & Film Studies.