Looking back at my childhood, I see I had microscope eyes. I was hyper-aware of words people would say and their mannerisms. I was always observing, and I made it my goal to not cause trouble because I hated when people were mad at me. No matter my success in school or compliments people would give me, I felt out of place.
The running question I would ask myself was “am I good?”
When I was a child, I received a lot of questions about my family because my mother and father are different races. The questions built up and I began to feel as though I did not belong anywhere, and my biracial background became something taboo.
My goal was to walk on eggshells, and make sure not to cause a stir.
As a child I could not comprehend why people would bully me about my curly hair, or my introverted personality. So, I took on the blame for everything bad; I tried to be the fixer.
Anxiety was a teddy bear I’d cuddle with at night and whisper my troubles to. Anxiety was the friend who I’d give all my worries to, and anxiety was the one who would open the door to my imagination. When the world became too noisy inside my head I would teeter off into daydreaming. Being part of a daydream, a world where I made the rules, seemed like the only solution.
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Going from childhood, the scared girl I once was turned into something different. I was filled with pent up rage and emotions too strong for me to keep buried. I had not let go of the people who hurt me, or the people I hurt, and they were living in my head. My mind was not a safe place; it was drowning in the voices and snapshot memories.
I would try to ask for help, but I did not know what it was that I needed help from.
I loved living in my daydreams, the stories I created. Before I could realize it the daydreams spilled into my everyday life. When people would ask me questions, or talk about family memories, I would play pretend and use a memory from a story I’d come up with. I deepened on those fabricated memories to make my past better.
I would have episodes of crying, and multiple times, I would find myself curled up in a ball screaming until my head hurt. It felt like the world was not made for me, and I was not supposed to be around. I had formed the thought that I was not necessary; I was just scrap parts put together haphazardly to form a person.
When I started counseling in 2012 it was my freshman year. I was not out of my teens, but I was run down, and resolved counseling was all left. Crying and living in my black hole was not bearable anymore. My counselor would listen, and to my surprise once I started opening up I could not stop. The box of feelings broke open and I hated it. It felt like I was being poke and prodded.
My microscope eyes were working as I started standing in reality, the now.
Feelings terrified me, and dealing with situations triggered my anxiety. The stomach turns and shaky feelings would come and my instinct would be to run, leave people and hideaway in my flat. My counselor and the great friends I made during college refused to let me run away.
My mentor, who is now my best friend, would tell me to take it easy on myself. I was always trying to get the checkbox of things completed, trying to change myself instead of loving the person presented.
We, as people, have perfectionist tendencies. It is hard to separate our worth from the material things, such as money or physical appearance. We look at the people around us, and a lot of times in trying to fit into who they want us to be we kill off who we are. We give up the power of self, but allowing other people to reconstruct who we are.
Today, I still struggle with my anxiety, but I don’t engage in self-hate. I embrace myself for who I am.
Some days I wake up and my afro hair is sticking out in all directions and I have an oily face, but I love it. I love my funny mornings and enjoy listening to my opinions.
I still get nervous being in large crowds of people, but every day I remind myself that I am brave. I look at the black hole and on a daily basis I deal with my anxiety through art. I write now, not to run away from life, but to reach out into more of who I am. I am awkward, and I am afraid of things, but I love people and the funny happenings of life.
I am grateful to my anxiety and depression because it helped make me a more compassionate person. Living in that dark space helped me to love the sun even more. I’d rather have fallen a thousand times than never to fall at all. I’d rather have experienced the hurt and heartache to be able to feel joy, and empathy, now.
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