Worth Living Ambassador Michele King
Hi! My name is Michele and I am 28 years old. Living with both depression and anxiety, I want to be a positive force of change to help end the stigma associated with mental illness, with hopes that what I share will help at least one person who comes across it.
The best way I can describe my anxiety is like this: constant thoughts ruminating over and over in my head. More often than not, I will latch on to one for dear life. Unfortunately, the thought that I typically tend to grasp onto is the negative, worst case scenario one.
Once this happens, my fight or flight response is in full force. My heart rate increases, my palms get sweaty, and I become fully engulfed in this one thought. There is no going back now.
I work diligently in silence trying to win the battle between my rational mind and my anxious mind, hoping no one catches on. You see, I know that my thoughts are just thoughts, and on the surface there is really nothing to worry about yet; but my mind and body have already taken the thought and ran with it as if it is reality.
It used to get so bad that I would get physical stomach pains from the constant worrying; my body would become tense and could not relax no matter how hard I tried to tell it to.
This is where panic attacks come in. For me, mine tend to be more silent, but if you really know me you may be able to notice my “calm” throughout this storm. If you are with me when this happens you may see my “zoning out” (which often comes across as my being rude or not listening) or you’ll see my twisting my rings on my fingers, around and around, just like my thoughts moving in an endless cycle. By the time the battle is over, I am physically and mentally exhausted. Did I mention this happens multiple times a day?
It wasn’t until fairly recently that I even realized I had anxiety. I simply thought this was my normal self. Once I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder everything clicked. However, just because I now can understand what is happening and possibly why it is happening, it doesn’t mean that I don’t continue to have these attacks. I do, daily.
Thankfully though, I am getting better at becoming more mindful. At times I am able to catch myself or a thought right before I spiral. If I have had enough sleep, and am in a good space that day, then I am able to remember to simply take a deep breath (or five) and not jump down that rabbit hole.
Now that I am more knowledgeable about what is going on with me I am able and wanting to talk about it. My anxiety and depression (that’s a story for a different time) are a part of my experience and I am learning to accept and embrace them along the way, hopefully while helping others do the same.