My ‘Anxiety’ Story | #WorldMentalHealthDay
#WorldMentalHealthDay was just around the corner and I’m just about to write my entry on it today.
On October 10, I witnessed a lot of my online friends posting about #WorldMentalHealthDay. I honestly didn’t know such a day exists, but I’m glad it does. I saw close acquaintances and strangers tweet their thoughts, share their own experiences and recovering tips, post their stories on Facebook, and basically celebrate the day.
I’m not clinically diagnosed, but I’m a highly anxious person, that I know.
This started years ago, and it continues to haunt me today. It’s not so bad now, but I still get my episodes. I never thought of seeing a shrink, I guess it also has to do with my own fears. You know when people refuse to go to hospitals for fear of knowing their illness? It’s like the same with me. And also because I know I wouldn’t be able to provide myself proper medication and therapy sessions because of financial shortage. So whatever this is I’m dealing with, I’d rather go organic… or something.
I wasn’t this anxious before. I was completely fine in high school and college. In fact, I couldn’t care less about other people. In high school, almost our entire class turned its back on me for telling on them for cheating, and I honestly didn’t care much about it because… I didn’t really know them? I wasn’t really friends with them? And I could survive on my own just fine. I did things alone most of the time and I was okay with that.
I was, still am, good at isolating myself from others. That’s my forte.
In 2014, after months of being a bum, I got my first (and hopefully last) corporate job. I was only there for 5 months because I couldn’t take the stressful nature of the job. I had to face corporate giants and I barely knew anything about my work. I took the same course in college and graduated with the same degree, but because I didn’t really like it, I didn’t know it by heart. I didn’t take my studies all too seriously and even hated some important subjects. Our professor in one of our major classes sucked so it didn’t help me gain knowledge and hopefully learn to love the field. I liked it for awhile until I realized who I was competing with.
I know it’s not entirely a competition but my colleagues were definitely far better than I was. It felt like no matter what I’d do, I can never be as smart as them. I can never be as witty with them, and I just wouldn’t have the same intellectual capacity. Of course not! I never liked my job, so how in the world would I ever be able to catch up? Pair all this low self-esteem with a slow mind and you got yourself a walking disaster.
So I left my job and started freelancing. It wasn’t the plan, but I found a job online and thought I could take it from there, so I did. Ever since I never prepared myself to work in a corporation again. Once in a while, I would think of having a “proper job” with more stable income and more security in general, but I don’t really see myself there.
After the day that I resigned from that corporate job, I was consumed with fear every single day for months. Imagine how excruciating it felt. I would go to sleep scared and wake up the next day with the same feeling. As soon as I opened my eyes, I felt fear. And that would stick with me for the rest of the day.
And then I would feel the exact same thing the next day. And the next. Until days rolled into weeks, and then into months. If I’m not mistaken, I might have cried myself a couple of times, too, and had sob fests in the middle of the day.
I was always so scared my old boss would call me and shout at me for all the mistakes I made. I imagined bumping into one of my colleagues or team leaders and not knowing what to say or how to act. My imaginations scared me so much that if I could, I would have blocked their numbers already. I didn’t want to do anything with them or the company or the job itself.
A few days before my official last day, I refused to go to work out of my anxieties. I remember having a hard time riding the bus one day and I was running late. It was a Monday so everyone was in a hurry. I was also really not in the mood to go to work. My mom’s office was nearby so I went there to talk to her. I made an alibi that I wasn’t feeling well and I just wanted to go home.
So I did.
That same afternoon, I got a fever. It was purely psychosomatic. My heart and brain were so stressed that my body felt it so it became sick, too.
There was fear, always.
It didn’t help that every so often my mom would ask me about my plans. It stressed me so much because here I was trying to put my pieces back together and get a grip of myself while she just saw me being a bum and “working from home”, which to her didn’t make sense.
It still doesn’t make sense to her, but I try to prove I’m working as much as she is (okay, maybe not as hard and in long hours, but still working) by buying expensive things I need and not relying on her to save my ass every single time. Slowly, I’m showing her I can take care of some things financially even though I no longer earn as much.
God and the gym were my salvation. I turned to God when I had no one else. I binge watched Bo Sanchez’s YouTube videos, read Francis Chan’s books, and read the Bible religiously (no pun intended). I had a lot of bad days, and every time I would remember them, I would remind myself that that hurdle is past now and I’m in a better place already.
As if my anxiety wasn’t enough, I also had a quarter-life crisis. You could say it drove me crazy emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. The gym was my therapy in a way that I went there to make my body and mind stronger. I would go there as much as I could. Every day even if I could.
Now I’m slowly growing my tribe, I’m constantly finding amazing people to bond with (albeit just online), I’m meeting more bloggers that share the same passion, I’m finding better communities where I feel a sense of belonging, I’m being exposed to people and places that I never engaged with before, I’m in a relationship with a man who allows me to grow yet continues to guide me, and we have a tank of fish, a cage of lovebirds, and 3 dogs that make feel loved and capable of loving.
While I may not be the best pet owner out there, they still love me unconditionally. I love them so much I buy parakeet seeds without anyone asking me to.
I also realized earlier that having pets is actually good for me. It’s my habit to watch the fish eat after I feed them and it’s just the most therapeutic thing in the world. I feel responsible when I clean the lovebirds’ poo and I feel they thank me every time I feed them. As for our dogs, I try to play with them as much as I can between work and call them my babies or good dogs or angels. While I know they don’t really understand me, I know they know I’m complimenting them.
I also find my purpose in my content. I’m happy whenever someone tells me he or she has read my blog, when someone asks me to do an art for them, when someone compliments my color grading skills, etc. It makes me really happy.
On my low days, I stick with my highs. It’s not always easy, but I try. I try to remember my accomplishments and my own happy days. It’s good for the soul.
May you have your own highs,