hi ! i'm 19 and i've finally decided to actively get help for my anxiety issues. i've struggled with anxiety for most of my life but never really accepted that i had a problem. mental illnesses always had really negative connotations to me. i always wanted to be normal, i didn't want to have mental problems and i thought that by ignoring them they would go away. anyways, i guess my anxiety issues started to become more noticeable when i was about 10-13, i was
a pretty temperamental, emotional child and i got upset easily. it was usually worries about people not actually caring about me, being lonely, not being able to express myself properly, not being listened to. during this time i had panic attacks occasionally. i also had a lot of worries about not having enough time to do things, not succeeding in things, etc. i always felt that i would fail at something before i even began. i was playing piano when i was younger and i would have such extreme anxiety when i had to do recitals, my legs would shake, i would be covered in sweat and i would feel dizzy even though i'd have practiced obsessively. sometimes this anxiety would make me freeze up and forget parts or all of my pieces. it felt like i was not in control of my life at all.
since then i have gotten better in some cases, such as public speaking. i usually don't have too much trouble with talking in front of a group. it still causes me a lot of anxiety and worries, but i can manage. other situations are usually a hit or miss, i have good days and bad days. i know i can converse with people, but sometimes it feels so difficult. i can have so many things to say in my head, yet sometimes nothing will come out, or i can't find the right words to express myself. i have a lot of social anxiety and fear of acceptance . i often question if people actually like me or if they are just pretending. i have a constant fear that i will be alone in my life, or unable to make friends.
i've always felt guilt and shame about having this anxiety because my parent's raised me pretty well, in a safe and loving environment. i've also had some good friends in my life that would've supported me though anything. last year i was going through some difficulties and i told my mom that i thought i had depression. she didn't really believe me and said i was 'just in a rut' and that 'i would get out of it'. i thought that maybe she was right, and just concluded that i shouldn't talk to her about it. i now know that this was not the right way of thinking. i understand now, after accepting that i have anxiety, that a lot of people don't understand what it means to have a high level of anxiety and the way it can impact your life.
i ended up going to a naturopath for some health problems i was having, and i mentioned to her my anxiety- general and social anxiety. she didn't really help that much and just recommended breathing exercises basically. those are helpful for falling asleep, but didn't really do anything to improve my overall anxiety.
i kind of gave up after that. i would feel like i was getting better, that i was doing better in social situations, and think the anxiety was going away. but then i would go through something that would bring back anxious feelings- like applying for a job, and going through university for my first year. that was one of the hardest years of my life, and though i was successful in the end, i had many anxiety attacks and stressful, sleepless nights worrying about the outcome of projects and my life.
anyways, i guess i really decided to accept my problem this week. i had been having a lot of stressful social interactions with people i don't know that well, but really wanted to become acquainted with. this often happens- i'll meet people i have so much in common with and who i want to have conversations with, but my anxiety and social awkwardness prevents me from barely uttering anything. when i do say things, i worry about what i'm saying and if they understand me or are interested. i know this is not how it should be and i'm realllllllllyy frustrated with this. because i know that i have a lot of potential, that i am intelligent and interesting and that i can achieve things, but it all seems so hard with my anxiety. i want to be able to have lasting friendships and meet new people i am interested in.
it's also been a constant physical thing too- when i am anxious i scratch at myself- my arms, legs, head , face. this makes me get pretty irritated skin when i am really stressful, and has given me longer term skin problems from the irritation.
anyways, i feel a bit lost in terms of what to do first. i'm considering therapy but i'm not sure if thats the right route. i don't want to do anything that will cost a lot of money and not help me at all, like going to the naturopath. i don't want to take medication at this point because i feel that this is a problem i can solve without medication.
i think an important thing for me to do would be to tell people i am close to that i have this problem, and seek out other people that are also suffering anxiety for support. this feels like one of the hardest things to do because of all of the shame i have for having this issue, and knowing that people don't always understand and might think i am overreacting or trying to make up excuses for my problems. i think telling my parents is the hardest, because in the past when i spoke about similar issues my mom was very over concerned, didn't understand what i was saying, and just tried to make me forget my problem. i want her to know that while i have this issue, it doesn't mean that i don't still enjoy my life for the most part, and that she is still a good parent.
looking for any input from people with similar history and problems. where did you go to seek help, and are there any immediate changes and things i can do to make an impact? how did you explain to friends and family what you are going through without them freaking out too much? how do you get people to understand?
even just going over my issues has been such a help in realizing that this has been a long term problem. it's really helped me by accepting that it's an issue and a blockage in my life. i've been making comics about how anxiety feels for me and have been getting a lot of relief out of those. now it's time to work on healing and coming into my full potential. nervous but excited.