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Isn’t This Normal?

woman alone by alex iby

I never thought that I was someone who was struggling with anxiety. I was just living my life, constantly having negative thoughts that would begin to spiral and always imagining the worst case scenario. But I assumed that everyone has these same sorts of thoughts and that it was “normal” to think in this sort of way.

I mean, isn’t it normal to:

Get upset easily?

Fear that your close family members/friends will die today? To picture/think of ways in which that could happen?

Fear when you’re alone that someone will break in to your house and harm you in some way (murder, rape, stabbing, arson with you in the house, etc)?

Go to work daily and think that today is the day you will get fired?

Fear that when you leave your house it might be burned down, and you won’t have a place to live?

Immediately think, if your family needs you to pet sit but is unsure of when, that someone is in the hospital or dying?

In social situations, isn’t it normal to:

Fear saying the wrong thing and being shunned by that person for life?

Send a text to someone and if you don’t get a response right away think that you said something that made that person hate you forever?

Send a friend request on Facebook, or follow someone on Instagram or Twitter and worry that that person will wonder why the hell is this weirdo wanting to follow/friend me?

Worry that someone now hates you because you had a discussion and you didn’t agree with them about something?

These are just some of the negative thoughts I have had circling in my mind each and every day for as long as I can remember.

THINGS GET WORSE

About two and a half years ago, things were starting to get out of hand. I was in a downward spiral, feeling like a zombie going through the motions to get through everyday life. I didn’t know how to be happy. I didn’t know how to really even function. I was just “a zombie”. The only emotions I could feel was anger and sadness. This lead to me beginning to spiral.

My relationship with my boyfriend was getting so bad that we were fighting daily. I would easily get upset, and so angry I would throw things at the walls. Negative thoughts were all I could think and they were coming one after another, each one worse than the one before. I was spiraling, and spiraling fast. It was so bad that I was unable to think of anything but worst case scenarios about anything and developed a constant shakiness in my voice and body (legs and hands specifically).

HERE ENTERS THE DEPRESSION

I eventually got to the point that I felt like it wasn’t really worth it anymore. I mean, is it worth living when all you can do is think of the worst-case scenario? When your brain is spiraling negatively out of control? I was struggling with so much and I thought this had become my new normal and I was not allowed to be happy ever again. I felt like I had become a spiraling zombie.

THINGS BEGIN TO CHANGE

In June of 2017 I thought maybe it was time to end my relationship with my boyfriend because I wasn’t doing well mentally. I felt like he deserved so much better than me. He deserved a happy life with a happier, more stable person. I knew that I was not good enough for him.

But luckily that didn’t happen because I discovered the world of Podcasts (Weird, right? People I don’t even know saved my relationship).

The world of podcasts eventually lead me to Is This Adulting? where I discovered our good, good boys and the Best Friends group on Facebook.

Through everyone’s stories and openness I have realized:

No, not everyone feels this way.

No, this isn’t normal.

I have anxiety and that’s okay.

It’s okay to have these thoughts and feelings.

It’s okay to talk about my struggles. I don’t need to keep it bottled up.

I am not alone, even though I feel it a lot of times.

Even though I have realized this, anxiety is still a daily struggle of mine.

Back in May 2018, I had my first panic attack at work. Which, long story short, led me to actually scheduling an appointment with a therapist. Because I knew I needed to get this under control if I wanted to continue on my journey and have a better life with my soon to be husband.

She recognized that I have an anxiety disorder, and that I carry a lot of baggage for lack of a better term. She suggested I join a mindfulness group therapy class. This was okay for a while but I rarely shared in the class and eventually quit therapy and the class altogether because I was still not comfortable telling someone my problems, feeling like I am being judged. But I also quit due to the cost as I became pregnant with our first child. I know that quitting therapy isn’t a good thing, but as of August 2018 my anxiety won once again.

“…recognizing my anxiety was my first step in learning to cope with it.”

I have not been back to therapy yet. And I still have my daily struggles with spiraling negative thoughts.  I don’t want to pretend like I don’t. I still think of worst case scenarios when people say “We need to talk”, or close a door to talk to me etc.

But I wanted to write here to tell others that recognizing my anxiety was my first step in learning to cope with it and just because you don’t have or haven’t had a panic attack it doesn’t mean you don’t have an anxiety disorder.

I know I am not managing my anxiety as well as I would like to. Maybe eventually I will get the courage to go back to therapy because I still have several of the above spiraling thoughts. Which has expanded recently with some more in regards to my new baby boy. In the last year I have had two more panic attacks, but I am trying and isn’t that the best anyone can really do?

Jenn Shupe

A few words about me

I am a circulation data clerk from Fargo ND. I am a new mom to a beautiful little boy and a wife to a very supportive husband. When I am not working I enjoy traveling, hiking, camping, all water sports, astronomy, star gazing, bullet journaling, songwriting, and writing pen-pal letters. Though I am very introverted and not one to start a conversation I love meeting and learning more about other people and their stories.