I can’t remember the last time I went an entire day without worrying. I worry so much that I worry one day I’ll give myself cancer — seriously. What worries me the most about worrying is I can’t control it, as hard as I may try to keep it at bay.
I started counseling my sophomore year of college. My first counselor’s name was Maya. She was this gorgeous 30-something, confident, brown-skinned woman. She had gone to the same school as me; joined a sorority, met the love her life, and seemed generally happy from where I was sitting.
I, on the other hand, was having friend issues. Never had a boyfriend. Can barely look at myself in the mirror while I’m brushing my teeth and felt like a complete cynic blubbering out the details my anxiety-riddled life to her once a week. So I stopped seeing her.
It wasn’t her, it was me.
My second counselor was a guy name James. Also, another sweet person. He was a white guy, around my age or in his early 30's, and he had the kindest blue eyes. He was a lot less chipper than Maya, but that was because he was just more mild mannered, which I enjoyed a lot more; didn’t feel like I was a total bump on the log around of him. I managed to finish an entire semester with him as my counselor, and was hoping to continue with him into the fall until he told me he was leaving the university.
Back to the drawing board.
My first year out of college I started seeing an older woman name Angela. Okay, worst therapist ever. What I still can’t figure out to this day is if I was just too sensitive or this woman really did think of me as a joke. I’ll just put it this way — after pour my heart out to you about something that’s obviously bothering me and you’re chuckling as you give me your advice, I can no longer say with confidence that you take me very seriously. So, you can guess how my saga with Angela ended.
My last therapist was a middle-aged woman name Latisha. Latisha was also beautiful and successful, but a lot more on the dry side, which from experience I learned I liked a lot more in a therapist; felt a lot less robotic and textbook-y. I have a bad habit with boundaries sometimes and this woman made me feel so strong after only a couple months, I bought her a small present for Thanksgiving, not Christmas, the season of giving, but Thanksgiving. I was just so grateful to finally have some kind of handle on my whirlwind of thoughts, and was grateful to her for helping me comb through them.
After about a year though, that familiar feeling of inadequacy came creeping back on in. I began to feel like I had nothing new to talk about and I was harping on the same ole mundane bull crap that I always harped on. I lost my grandma in the spring and went through this really strange period of “I’m strong-I’m alright-I’m okay”, which, at times, felt strangely jubilant and worried the hell out of me. Inside my heart was literally crushed. My grandma died in my house. I saw her die. Why and how was I okay? Why had my sessions with Latisha become more and more silent? That must’ve meant I was finally cured, right? I had nothing to talk about but I somehow felt so much. The feelings were so strong I guess I just couldn’t articulate them. As I was struggling finding topics to talk through, I began to notice Latisha glancing down at the clock more, or her eyes wondering away from me, which in the past had been my cue to call it a day. So, I called it day. I haven’t spoken with Latisha in months.
Again, it wasn’t her. It was me.
Here I am, months later. Still here and wondering how. I got laid off in August and got hired as an intern for this wonderful tech company, where I now work with a group of people that I genuinely like and make me feel completely at home. Yet, my stomach is always in knots before every meeting, even if it’s just with my most immediate teammate. I stutter a lot. At the end of a work day, when I have tons of meetings, my shirt is damp from sweat. I may or may not have a headache from fake smiling and forcing myself to speak and be social, even when I don’t want to.
I got an awesome job, lost a friend of almost ten years and I’m currently working on losing two more if I keep going this way. I don’t know how to talk to people anymore because I don’t want to seem negative, and honestly it’s just become easier to tough it out alone. I don’t know how to tell people, even the ones that I love, that I wake up everyday feeling like an imposter in my own universe. Even on a good day, I wait for something to go badly just so I don’t get too comfortable with being comfortable.
Tomorrow’s my first day back at work since the holidays and the first question my co-worker is going to ask me is “How was your Christmas break?” and I’ll smile and say great! Which would be the truth, for the most part. It was, in fact, a great Christmas. But I won’t tell him about tonight, and how I laid in bed all day trying to get into Game of Thrones, and worrying about how I was laying in bed and doing absolutely nothing when there was something productive I could’ve been doing, such as the 90-page document I’m redoing as a freelance project, and have been working on my entire Christmas break. Then he’ll talk about how he and his family had a wonderful time, and I’ll smile, listen, and blush with genuine joy for him and his happiness, while on the inside feeling bad I, too, had an amazing Christmas with my family, but can’t exactly find the right words to say with true conviction that I enjoyed my Christmas, worry-free. Truth is, I worked 50% of the time to muffle the noise of my own thoughts, only to end up worrying for another 25%, ultimately only allowing myself to enjoy the remaining 25%. All that’s way less cooler sounding than what his break will probably be. But again —
It’s not him, it’s me.
Has my jabbering overwhelmed you yet? Yet, this is what my mind feels like 90% of the time.
I put myself down, it’s what I do. I’m beyond tired of it and I’m sure the people around me are tired of it, too. Just smile already. Take deep breaths. Let it go already. Pray about it. Don’t be dramatic. Stop overreacting.
I hear you, okay? I’m sorry, I’m doing my best. I don’t want to feel this way, but I do. I can’t help it. I have anxiety. But I’ll try to stay positive anyways.