This past semester I had my first experience with anxiety. I always do my best to look on the bright side of everything. I try not to let anything bother me or show when something is. Sometimes I might bottle things up which we all know isn’t healthy, but I do air out when necessary. I can never get depressed because I’ll either be angry or happy. There were days where I would wake up and think that I might just spend the day being depressed, but that never last. I’m surrounded by joy all the time. I didn’t even know what I was feeling when anxiety paid me a visit.
A few weeks before the end of the semester, we were asked to share our testimonies at Crossroads (Wednesday night church service). My testimony can be a little hard to swallow for those who have grown up in church their whole life. We were broken up into groups that we didn’t even get to pick, they were assigned to us. I don’t just tell my testimony to anyone, and now I had to tell it to a group of people I don’t even know. Also, I tell my testimony when I feel comfortable telling it. So when we broke up into groups I immediately started to get nervous.
I was in a group with five other girls who I have seen around campus, but have never spoken to before. We sat in a circle, in a private room in the church. Each one of us took a turn at telling our testimony and lucky me, I have to go last. Everyone’s testimony is special, there’s nothing wrong with it, because that’s who that person is and what made them who they are today. As I listened to the other girls in my group, they’re each saying how they can relate to each other and their testimonies sounded the same to me. “I was born and raise a Christian. At one point in my life I faced a struggle. Now I’m with this guy and I’m learning so much about God through him.” I can’t relate to them at all and the whole time I’m listening to them, I’m thinking, “Oh boy are you guys in for it.”
Finally it’s my turn and all eyes are on me. My nerves have been building up inside until this moment and I started to feel a weight on my chest. I didn’t want to do this! I couldn’t just not say anything, because that’ll look bad on my part. I shared my testimony, but it wasn’t easy. I was forcing myself to speak. I was pushing myself to speak so hard that it felt like I was gargling nails. I’m sure the other girls thought I was choking back tears, but I wasn’t. I just didn’t want to be there. When I finished speaking they just stared at me. They didn’t even say anything. At that moment I just wanted to talk to someone I did know.
As I walked out of the room, my felt myself start to boil over. “Suck it up,” I told myself, “Just get over it. It’ll be fine. Find your friends and talk to them.” When I joined everyone I was distant so that I could get myself under control. I’ll just get a snack and then talk to someone close to me. As I’m eating with my friends, doing my best to distract myself, this said person walks over and tells me he has to leave. I started boiling over again. I just look at him and snap, “Fine! I’ll go talk to someone else!” That caught him off guard. “I’m not happy!” I could tell he was trying to figure out why, “You’ve done nothing wrong.” It wasn’t his fault I was upset.
We said goodbye and I tried to control myself again. “Suck it up. It’ll all be okay.” I started talking to my friends some more, but what was going on inside of me was just too much. I looked for a friend of mine who I have shared my testimony with before, but they were playing with the children, so I couldn’t talk to them. I realized I was alone. My feelings were boiling over and I felt suffocated. “I need to get out of here!” and I walked out.
I sat outside and let everything out. I cried, breathed, anything to get rid of what I was feeling. The friends I were talking to inside were leaving and one of them noticed that something was up. I just brushed them off, “Oh no, no I’m fine.” I wasn’t, but I didn’t want to bother them. I got a hold of myself and walked back inside. I started running around with the children and it helped, but it didn’t do the job.
I slept on it, hoping I would feel better the next day. Sleep really does help your body and mind work through any problems you’re having. Only that night, sleep did not help me. I woke up the next day and did all that I could to get through it. I didn’t want to feel what I felt the night before so I distracted myself by researching a paper. I sat at my lunch table just focused on my work. A few of my friends were sitting there and I didn’t want to pay attention to them. One of them, I could tell was staring at me. They knew something was wrong. “Just ignore them.” I started to feel suffocated again.
More people were entering the dining hall and it was only a matter of time that the rest of our friends would come too. I was only there for one reason and it wasn’t because I was hungry. With everything going on inside, I couldn’t hold it in any longer. As I contemplated whether or not I should stay, I told myself, “I don’t know why I’m sitting here! He’s not going to show up! I need to go because this is just a waste of my time!” So I left and I stayed in my room for the rest of day, away from everything.
The friend that wouldn’t take their eyes off of me started texting me after I left the dining hall. I told them I wasn’t feeling well and there was no point in talking about it, because it would just be a bother to everyone. I don’t like talking about my issues with people or even letting people see me cry, because I don’t want to draw attention to myself. I don’t want everyone coming up to me and asking, “What’s wrong? Why are you crying? What happened?” I’ll tell you when I tell you, right now just leave me alone.
I eventually started to feel better and it took time for me to actually talk to someone about it. My roommate helped me a lot. It was a few days after this too place when I explained what happened. It was very helpful, because she figured out what the issue was. “You felt taken advantage of didn’t you? You felt completely stripped of something that was very sacred to you and that you had no choice to say ‘no’. The anxiety was so overwhelming for you. I’m going to tell you something. Your testimony is yours. You decide how you tell it, how much you tell, and when you tell it. You need to let people know that your testimony is yours and no one can take that away from you. So next that this happens, remember that you don’t have to share if you don’t want to.” That really helped me a lot, because all I feel when I remember that night is anger. Plus I was able to open up to my roommate and she actually listened to me. By the way, did I mention that we both major in Psychology? We tend to counsel each other often, but it’s mostly me counseling her.
So that’s what anxiety feels like. IT SUCKS! I never want to experience that again. It’s just awful, especially when you’re dealing with it alone.