I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder when I was 15. And by that I mean I diagnosed myself using the symptoms that the characters in the Wattpad teen fictions were experiencing before finally going to an actual doctor and getting a real diagnosis. I struggled with it for a bit, did the whole therapy thing, hated it, quit that and eventually, around the August of 2018, I kind of just recovered.
I don’t know; it just went away. That or the symptoms just stopped showing. But there comes a time in most people’s life when some event triggers their teenage mental illness to turn up uninvited and unexpected in adult life.
It happened to me last year and this time, it brought a friend (another mental illness, that is). I did the whole battling for a good three months thing again and eventually, the symptoms stopped showing as much once again. I mean, aside from certain occasional events that would trigger a momentary response, I was pretty much void of general anxiety. I would say my dopamine levels were pretty much grounded and well-balanced.
And then came April of 2019. My ma told me she was taking me with her to run work-related errands. She would be going to the Houses of Parliament for a meeting and then to Brent Civic Centre for the mayors inauguration. As someone who is nearing the age of 20 and still feels like a 15 year old, I was enthusiastic about this. I welcome opportunities to practice adulthood with open arms (because of the crippling fear of failure that controls my life ahem anyways). Inside one of the meeting rooms of the Houses of Parliament, I found I wasn’t interested in the discussion at hand and I started dozing off. Within seconds, I was hit with an intense wave of nausea which just got heavier and heavier. I’m someone who experiences nausea often – when I’m hungry, when I’m sleep-deprived – but I’m never actually physically sick. This time, however, I was concerned.
I tried to ignore it for as long as possible, thinking it was another episode of my mind playing games with me as it does. But when the nausea grew stronger and I began to think the worst was about to happen, I told my ma and we rushed out of there. Two steps after the door closing behind us and my body gave in to the chairs outside. I suddenly lacked the energy to stand, I felt faint, and I was weak. I didn’t know what was going on with me but it was a hot day so I considered heat exhaustion. And then it just went away. All of it. In .012 seconds I went from practically dying to feeling as healthy and normal as ever. And I was confused.
I stood up and told my ma that all of a sudden, I felt fine and she immediately brought up anxiety. And obviously, I was in denial for a while. I mean, anxiety hadn’t bothered me in a long time and even when it did return out of the blue, it was never like that. Those just weren’t the usual symptoms I’d experience. I would usually find it difficult to breathe or my heart would jump to an unrhythmic beat but those were the only physical symptoms I’d get. But the more I thought about it, the more it sounded like the answer. There was literally nothing else it could have been. But this conclusion only led to more questions.
Like, usually anxiety is triggered by something but absolutely nothing had happened to trigger this. To this day, I still don’t really understand what happened or why I had the anxiety attack. But I remember feeling very forlorn that day because it almost impacted on my ability to attend the inauguration. I didn’t let it, but what if I had no choice? What if the anxiety attack didn’t end? Anxiety attacks can last anywhere between 5 minutes to half an hour. I grew increasingly concerned that this mental illness was going to impact on my ability to perform and function normally as an adult. I’m someone who wants to do extraordinary things and go above and beyond. I don’t like average. I like exceptional. But how could I be exceptional with a childish mental illness like anxiety holding me back?
See, I’m an over thinker; not someone who spends a lot of time pondering on the past but wandering into the future. And I tend to spiral. So in this moment, as I was thinking about the return of my old friend and deadliest enemy Social Anxiety, my thoughts were rushing in at 100mph and about a million different voices were talking all at once. Yet one quiet whisper silenced them all.
The storm was calmed.
How could I forget? He did it before. No therapy, no medication would have worked for me; nothing would have sufficed, but the love of Christ Jesus set me free from fear (true to Zephaniah 3:17). It broke the strongholds that were fastened around my wrists, the shackles locked onto my feet and the yoke clasped around my neck. He did that for me once before. And that same love is never-ending and everlasting. God doesn’t run out of that kind of love. He will keep pouring and pouring until your soul overflows.
So if He did it before, He will do it again.
And with that thought in mind I knew that Social Anxiety would soon be evicted from its residence within me once more.
Live in Peace,
“I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies And of the son of man who is made like grass,” Isaiah 51:12