I was drying my hair when it happened. I had my earbuds in and was absolutely butchering the Hairspray soundtrack yet still having the time of my life. I was even using my hairbrush as a microphone. And then I couldn’t breathe.
I had no idea what was happening and started to freak out. Everything had been completely normal and then very suddenly it wasn’t. In the back of my mind, I knew I was breathing yet every other part of my brain was screaming for air. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t seem to breathe. Luckily, my mom was home that day and she was able to help me out of it. I don’t know what would have happened if she wasn’t there. What I do know is that it was a panic attack. One of the many fun symptoms of anxiety.
I don’t know when I started developing anxiety or at what point I thought I had it because for the longest time I couldn’t admit to myself that that’s what it was. I would get anxious over things that weren’t in my control. It wasn’t just happening because I forgot to do homework. It was happening when I made eye contact with a stranger or if a piece of hair was sticking up on my head. I just considered it normal. Everybody gets anxious sometimes but for me it was happening every day.
I finally admitted I had a problem when I started getting physical symptoms like a stutter and random hyperventilating. I feel guilty for taking so long to admit to my disability and yet it’s still hard to grapple with.
My anxiety has never been officially diagnosed by a doctor and I have never seeked that kind of treatment because I’m worried about having to take medication. Some people take meds for their anxiety and that is a completely valid choice, but there are a lot of side effects that have made me nervous.
So instead of taking meds I drink green tea and practice positive self-talk. I am learning new ways to manage my anxiety every day and I have a pretty solid support system for when I can’t handle it on my own. I’ve even opened myself up to looking at therapy as an option which, I think, is a big step in the right direction.
Life with undiagnosed anxiety can be tough. I doubted myself a lot before admitting it, but now that I have, I can work towards living with my disability rather than just surviving it.
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