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Issue 17 Out Now

The Truth About How I Developed Anxiety

Photo from Self

I have had an anxiety disorder since before I knew it was a thing. Anxiety disorder involves a person feeling disproportionate and sustained distress, worry, or fear for seemingly no reason.

Anxiety disorder is different from anxiety, a natural part of our internal warning systems that is helpful to alert us to danger or other threats and prepare our bodies to fight back or get out of a dangerous situation.

While anxiety is related and proportional to a specific situation or problem and lasts only as long as it does, anxiety disorder is much stronger than expected. It may arise unexpectedly for seemingly no reason, even when the situation or problem is over.

Anxiety may feel impossible to control or manage. It can also have a significant impact on your life if you avoid situations that trigger it. There are many different types of anxiety, including GAD and social anxiety, two I experience.

No singular cause is isolated yet. However, evidence shows multiple factors are usually at play, including genetics, brain chemistry, family background, social influence, and life experiences.

I believe it helps to be transparent about our journeys to find the common threads in our experiences to seek solutions. And in this article, I will be sharing how I believe I developed anxiety.

I Lived Inside A Bubble

Mine is like a Rapunzel story only, with no towers, princes, or rivers of long locks. Growing up, I rarely went outside except to school, to community programs when I got to high school and a handful of family events. My world was limited to the four walls of my mom’s apartment with my siblings.

I felt like the luckiest girl in the world every day, not at all because of what we had because we did not have much, but because we were rich in laughter, love, and imagination. Living in a bubble left little room for the outside knowledge of “other” necessary to discern any disadvantages.

However, isolation made my siblings and I quite fascinated by other humans due to our limited exposure to them, and although we were wildly creative, we were also extremely sensitive. We experienced everything wholeheartedly, without insulation because, in our experience, we did not know there was much to fear.

Negative Experiences Outside the Bubble

At home, mom instructed us to treat others how we wanted to be. I wanted kind treatment, so I treated others kindly. On my first day of school, this brought me great comfort because I knew, based on this understanding, I would only have a positive experience because I would behave positively.

I was bullied, mocked, attacked, and ostracized on the first day of school, almost until College, where I got a break. It then continued into my workspaces.

Photo from desicreative

It was confusing how unpredictable people could be and

how painfully consequential this unpredictability was to me.For example, I could be working on classwork in school, and someone could come behind me and attack me. Or I could be washing my hands in the bathroom and get jumped unprovoked left me feeling like regardless of how safe a place or people may seem, anything can happen at any moment. Nowhere was safe. I was already sensitive, so I felt all of the negative experiences strongly, without insulation.

Learned to Fear Uncertainty

These unpredictable, painful experiences taught me to fear people and any possible variables of uncertainty. If I do not know the what, when, where, who, how, and why. I am anxious. Today, I am against surprises. I am a planner. Schedules bring me great comfort. I find comfort and safety in the certainty of them. In my experience, there is danger in uncertainty that I have learned to fear.

Felt Like I Had No Control

Growing up, it felt like nothing was in my control. If I did not want to do something, I had zero say. My only option was to do as told. So even if I felt there was something to be afraid of, I still had to do as told. I feared uncertainty. But I had no voice to do much about it. Today I’m a control freak because I never want to feel like I have no say in my life.

In these times, when anxiety is prevalent, grappling with your emotions and thoughts can be overwhelming. One of the most helpful things for me was having transparent people around me, like my siblings, experiencing the same things. To have a space where I could openly discuss my experience and feel validated that my emotions and journey were not just in my head. It was my peace, and it made me feel less crazy and alone. And that is all I wish for in this piece. If sharing my experience helps at least one person have more clarity and feel a little less alone, I will consider this article worth it.

1Photo from desicreative

What about you? Do you suffer from an anxiety disorder? If so, what are your thoughts on how it came about? Do we share any common threads in our experiences? Let us know in the comment section below with the hashtag #TheBlakLotus. We love to hear from you!

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