It’s crazy because growing up, I never really dealt with an anxiety problem. For the most part, I was always a pretty happy and cheerful person. You could ask anyone and they would tell you that I was always smiling. I always found a way to be happy and I always found something to smile about. I never really had a hard life, I most definitely had hard situations that I had to overcome, but I didn’t have a hard life to really have anxiety about.
I remember it all started when I was 16. It was Spring 2015, and my junior year in high school. I think for most students in high school, we can all agree that junior year is the year that teachers and counselors really get on you about what you want to do for the rest of your life. (Like we’re supposed to have it all figured out at 16?!?!). I would leave school and go home trying to escape the pressure of trying to decide what was going to happen after high school. I’m not going to lie, a part of me didn’t want to graduate. I was scared of facing the real world. Every time that my parents would ask me “Satarra, what are you going to do once you graduate?” I remember I would get so scared because I truly did not know what was going to happen and what I was going to do. I tried so hard to run away from the question and try to just ignore it, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that you can’t run away from everything.
I remember Summer 2015, laying in my bed at 2:00 am. staring at the ceiling. My mind was going crazy, I just kept saying in my head “This is my last year and it’s over”. I just kept repeating that in my head. It was just so hard for me to accept the fact that this was going to be the last year in high school for me, and then it’s done. I was probably thinking about the topic of graduation for over 30 minutes, and then it happened. I felt this heaviness in my heart, I felt my chest tighten up, my mind started racing, thoughts kept racing through my head, I felt like I was going crazy, this sudden panic and fear came over me. Soon after all these things started happening, the tears started to form. I remember crawling into a corner pulling my hair and holding my head trying to figure out what was happening to me. Water! I thought “Water, will fix this!” I found myself struggling to get up and go to the kitchen, but I managed to figure it out. I drank a whole pitcher of water. It didn’t seem to help. It was crazy because I felt scared, but why did I feel scared? I wasn’t in any physical danger. I just had the feeling of fear. I remember having my heart feel so heavy like it was physically weighing me down. “Go to sleep!” I thought to myself that sleep would make it all disappear. I went back to my room and went to sleep, not knowing that I had just had my first anxiety attack.
I woke up the next morning with the same feeling. Except the depression came with it. I remember waking up and the first thing that I wanted to do was cry. It took the power of God to get me up out of my bed. Not long after getting out of my bed, my mom came in my room to come and take me to work. She saw me struggling to get out of bed and she asked me what was wrong? I think that was the worst part for me, having to explain to my mom what was going on and not knowing exactly what you’re dealing with yourself. I tried my best to explain to my mom what was going on, and she sort of just looked at me like I was crazy. I don’t mean to downgrade my mom, because she’s an amazing Mom, but she was still trying to figure out what was happening too. She told me that my feelings would probably get better if I got out and do something. I went to work that day, and to be honest, I hid my anxiety pretty well. At the time I was working as a receptionist at a hair salon. I still had the symptoms of my mind racing, the heaviness of my heart, and the feeling of fear. Since all I had to do at my job was to sit down and answer phone calls, it wasn’t so hard to hide my anxiety.
I always felt so guilty when it came to my anxiety. I felt so guilty because I never had a really clear reason as to why I had it. I never went through any kind of traumatic experience. My anxiety was always something that just happened. I felt ashamed to mention it because there are real people in this world going through hard times, and here I am with anxiety and depression over nothing. The level of guilt I felt was unreal.
Fast forward 2 years later (after graduating high school) I still had these same feelings. The only difference is I knew how to hide my anxiety better. And the depression was full blown. I never really knew what the source of my anxiety was anymore. It didn’t have to do with graduating high school because by this time I was in college and doing great. But for some reason, my anxiety never left. The depression came heavy, I remember at times feeling like I was already dead. I’m not sure if anyone has ever felt like this, but I was so used to my anxiety and my depression, it was like a way of life for me.
Therapy was never an option for me. I always thought that therapy was stupid. I thought that therapy was only for crazy people or people that were too weak to deal with problems on their own. I was never a weed smoker, and I never did drugs. I didn’t even drink. I really had no outlet of getting all these feelings out of my head. So for years, I just dealt with it. The feelings would come, and I would just let them be. It hurt and I was constantly sad and depressed, but I didn’t know what to do.
One day I decided that enough was enough. I remember I was 19, and I told myself that I was going to get help. So I did it. I sent an email to the school therapist. I chose my school therapist because I knew that it was going to be free. It only took like two days before the school therapist got back to me. She told me that she wanted me to schedule an appointment with her, and I did. The first time I showed up to the office, I waited in the lobby until she was done with the previous person. I sat there staring into space, not knowing what to expect. So many things were running through my mind, and my anxiety was getting worse by just thinking about what would happen. My deepest fear was that she was going to prescribe me pills, and I’m not the type of person to take medication. I found myself losing myself in my thoughts until she came out and told me that it was time for me to come to her office.
I’m not going to go over everything that we talked about, but I told her about my anxiety problem and how long I had been dealing with it. She assured me that I was not the only one going through it and that many people go through this and feel this too. It was a bittersweet feeling. I was happy that I wasn’t alone, but I didn’t want anyone else to feel what I had been feeling. We got a lot accomplished at my first meeting. She told me coping mechanisms to deal with my anxiety, and she told me how to practice them.
I attended therapy for 6 months. Each day learning a new way to deal with my anxiety and stress. It’s weird because I actually looked forward to going to therapy. I looked forward to talking to my therapist about my problems and finding new ways to deal with it. To be honest, I don’t know why I didn’t decide to go to therapy a lot sooner.
I want people who read this story to know that if you have anxiety and depression, you don’t have to hide it. There are people that you can talk to that will help you through it. People that can help you fix whatever problem you’re going through. You shouldn’t have to live with such pain. You deserve to be happy and hopeful of the future.