In 2018 I went to the ER for an anxiety attack that wouldn’t end. My Fitbit tracked me in the “fat burn” zone for five hours and 40 minutes. I had recently moved across the country, started a new job, had financial stress, and had too much caffeine that day. I realize those things were triggers now. Anxiety has decided to show its face when I least expect it. I’ve been in the middle of seeing a Broadway show, teaching my students, on a road trip, and sleeping in my bed. It leaves my muscles weak from the full body tremors while mentally I feel incompetent.
Anxiety has also grown me into a much stronger and empathetic woman toward others and myself. My dog helps a lot too, so has dance and other healthy habits. I feel lucky that my anxiety doesn’t halt my ambition. I’ve put in countless hours with therapists and other professionals to gain some control and understanding of what often feels uncontrollable. I still have anxiety attacks and maybe I always will, but I no longer claim it as a part of my identity. My generalized anxiety and panic disorder diagnosis were often something I’d tell others about as if they were as important as the two educational degrees I have hanging on my wall. Although it has made me into the person I am today, I don’t use it as a label anymore. It’s true I suffer from horrifying, hyperventilating, paralyzing anxiety sometimes, but there is so much more to me than that. I have a deeper understanding of my anxiety now. I use the strategies I’ve been taught, but sometimes even those fail. As long as I keep going though, often with the help of others, I will remain stronger than my anxiety.