Personal Column: The Struggle Is Real


I walk into a room and immediately, my eyes are drawn to a corner, somewhere I can hide myself. I want to avoid the crowd of people. I sit down in class and want to bury my head, not have to deal with any teachers, classmates or assignments. I lie in bed each night and imagine what it would be like to never wake up; to stay in the calm serenity of slumber; to forget the rest of the world and make it all stop once and for all. And though I am not suicidal, I struggle to stay afloat in the sea that is life. I struggle to find a smile in my world of frowns. Happiness is a lie I tell myself, yearning for it to come true one day. Nothing comes of it though, and I am left alone to my own demise. I am my own biggest critic, and this voice in my head repeats this very phrase: you are broken.

I am broken because I often cannot find joy in life. I am broken because I do not know social norms. I am broken because I fear failure. I am broken because I am different.

Because of this, I find it difficult to remain positive about life. All I want is to be successful, but how can I possibly do that with all of this anxiety filling my brain?

In attempt to solve this issue, I pack my schedule full to the brim. It’s school, homework, workouts, jiu jitsu, babysitting and off to sleep. Then it repeats. Each day is the same. I eat the same breakfast, same lunch, follow the same to-do list. This monotony helps me stay tethered to Earth, while change makes my whole world flip upside down. I am thrown into chaos and fighting against that storm seems near impossible.

Unfortunately, the way I have been living my life is not healthy. I wear myself thin, not allowing myself any time to relax. However, when I do have a spare moment of “me-time,” everything hits me all over again and I find it hard to breathe. I feel like I’m drowning, so I must get back to work.

For almost six years, I have somehow managed to deal with my anxiety.

I started with counseling. I remember the very first day, I sat there and cried. Accepting the fact that there was something wrong with me, this shy, 10-year-old at the time, was devastating. The plastic orange bottle labeled with my name and “40 mg Celexa” felt like a sticker that said “screw-up.” I was ashamed of myself, felt like I somehow ended up in this world by accident. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

After about a year with that first counselor, I seemed to be doing a lot better. I could identify certain triggers for my anxiety and the panic attacks were less frequent. The dosage of meds was lowered and I felt like I had my life back on track.

Later though in middle school, things started to pick back up. It seemed like all that work had been flushed down the drain. I had other pills to ease the more serious attacks and I started counseling again. At that point, it was all I could do to not burst into tears whenever something changed, something caused me some stress.

So then I got to high school. I no longer went to a counselor, but I still took the meds. I’d have my moments of anxiety, but I learned to manage it. I even got to be more social, had my first boyfriend and everything. First semester of sophomore year, I was on top of the world.

But of course, all good things must come to an end.

I got dumped, and blamed myself. I felt like an idiot for thinking I could handle a relationship. I loved feeling special, like someone wanted me, but it didn’t last. I got the “it’s not you, it’s me” excuse, and it hurt more than anything I’d ever been through. I never wanted to be one of those girls who had a ton of boyfriends throughout their school years; I had my heart set on those perfect high school romances you see in the movies. I felt – and still do feel – like I lost a part of me, a part of my morals, and the anxiety came back.

Last month, everything picked up speed. Schoolwork and extracurriculars were piled on heavily each week, and I couldn’t seem to get on top of it. I had those thoughts of wishing to not wake up, and that scared me. I didn’t think I’d ever do anything to hurt myself, but what if…

I wrote it all down. Everything I’d been feeling recently, all on clean sheet of notebook paper. After giving it to my mom, we decided it may be time to see another counselor. Although I knew this was a good decision, a part of me wanted to say no, for our schedule was already way too hectic. I did not want to deal with another dot on my calendar, let alone add to my parents’ never ending list of to-dos. On the other hand, I did not want to be that ‘broken’ girl again, who hides from the fact that things are not okay.

Through these struggles, I’ve learned that going through life with anxiety can be scary, and sometimes dangerous. However, talking to someone has helped me to overcome some of it. As a result of the past three weeks alone of seeing a counselor, I have already conquered the barrier of being social. I invited some people to hang out this past Saturday, and ended up with seven new friends. At the end of the night, my mom told me I had made her really happy; hearing the laughter and merriment that echoed throughout the house brought her a lot of joy. In turn, seeing my mother’s joy brought me a lot of joy as well.

So while most may see me as the girl in the back of the class who always gets the top scores, making bounds in extracurricular activities and overall seems to be just about perfect, I also face many obstacles. I am a firm believer in the idea that no one person goes through life without at least a little bit of heartache or hardship. People see me and the term “try-hard” is an almost immediate synonym for Bailey. And maybe I am, but that doesn’t have to be such a bad thing. I try hard to be successful, and though it isn’t always easy, I make attempts to make the best out of tough situations.