So here I am, writing this article with one goal in mind: breaking up with my anxiety. Will it be easy? No. Will it be hard? Very. Is it necessary? Yes. Oh god, yes.

This is what I’m dealing with right at this current moment: A tight chest, shortness of breath, overwhelming head pressure and a jittery, on edge sensation that will not go away. See here’s the thing about anxiety, although it may be in your head, it can feel all too real.

The very first panic attack that I can remember was when I was 18 years old. I was sitting on my couch fixating on moving away to college and I was terrified, absolutely terrified. I thought about everything from if I would know where my classes are to if I snored so loud that my roommate wouldn’t want to be friends with me any longer. My overwhelming fear was that I would be away from my family or that my boyfriend would break up with me. Sure, some fears were rational, but most of them were absolutely ridiculous if I’m being honest.

Anxiety doesn’t care if you’re being ridiculous.

In fact that’s when it chooses to grow and get larger until pretty soon, you won’t even feel like an individual. You’ll begin to be defined by a stupid word that some people don’t fully understand. Imagine being in a lecture hall filled with 120 people and thinking that your left leg is paralyzed all because it decided to fall asleep on you. Imagine, literally being terrified to raise your hand because you think your voice might be lost.

I ended up losing a lot of friends that year because they didn’t understand my distance or the struggles I was facing. Most people choose to believe that I’ve made it up. As if it could ever be that easy.

Although I get waves of normalcy from time to time, it has never been gone for good. Even in my happiest moments, anxiety reminds me of all sorts of things. It likes to remind me that we don’t live forever, that one day we’ll have wrinkles and one day I’ll have to say goodbye to my dogs. Things that people think of, sure. But not to the point where you have mid-day panic attacks, wishing that you could just stop thinking about it.

So where am I today? Today I am facing a multitude of changes. I just moved out with my boyfriend, I am starting a new job, I am constantly meeting new people as a freelance photographer and everything is different yet somewhat the same. For the past week now, my anxiety has been the most aggressive. I can’t sleep, I can’t find my footing and all I seem to do is worry about worrying.

Frankly, I am scared. I’m scared that I’m falling down a slope with no end in sight. I am scared that I will never feel comfortable in my own skin because I will forever be burdened by worry. It is both terrifying and extremely real.

But I had an epiphany this morning. That maybe I am more than a physical reaction to unrealistic fears. Maybe I am more than consistently being defined by something that isn’t really there. Maybe I have more power than I choose to realize. So from this point forward, I choose to fight. I choose to get over this. No more fear of driving, no more fear of crowds, no more fear of failure or the unknown. It’s time to put this to bed once and for all. From this point forward I choose freedom. I choose to rise above this.

If you know someone or are suffering from GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) please feel free to get in contact with me or seek professional help. Nobody should have to go through this alone. And you’re not alone. Anxiety is more common than you think and there is a way out. You just have to fight.

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