The Monster

As a little girl I used to lay in bed at night terrified of what may come out of my closet. My eyes were constantly peeled to that white door with the gold knob waiting for any signs of movement. After getting out of bed in and around three times every night to check out what was behind that door, I would maybe drift off to dreamland after about an hour. Some nights though, I was tormented by my fear of the monster that I believed could still be hiding out in my closet. Maybe he would kill me or maybe he would just take me away from my family, my friends and my toys. My parents had told me about people like that. 

Jump forward two or three years, I was about eight. At eight I definitely still spent plenty a night staring at my closet in paralyzing fear but my fear and aversion to sleep had somewhat shifted. Every night before bed I showered, watched a few Disney Channel favorites and climbed into bed to listen to my Walkman (TBT) or read a bit of a book before bed. One night Disney Channel shared a story line in which a teenage girl lost her mom. In the show the mom was suddenly diagnosed with a life altering illness where she spent many grim days in a dark, depressing hospital bed before finally passing away. WHEW, Disney Channel- Where the heck is Mickey? My fear had quickly shifted. I can never lose my parents. 

I bet you're wondering why I had such dark thoughts as an incredibly loved little girl. I was too. Why didn't my friends seem to have such life altering fears? My cousin told me she never worried about anything....ever. Why did my parent's keep telling me I had an over active imagination?

In and around the same time this Disney show aired I gained a new fear. This was an entirely new monster but this one didn't hide in my closet. This one was always right next to me, behind me, in front of me and everywhere in between. This monster used to make me feel sick and lose my appetite. He carried an entirely different fear - time. Abstract for a little nugget like myself I know. Time was passing to quickly, I didn't want to grow up, I didn't want my parents to age, I didn't want them to get sick. What if I got sick? Pretty soon third grade would be over and then middle school, high school, college and then I would die. I went through this cycle every single night. Tossing, turning, staring off and playing into every single scenario of losing my life. I remember being eight and wishing I didn't wake up in the morning so I could just take a little break from the monster. Of course, I hoped to wake up the following day and didn't quite realize the repercussions of not. 

The monsters following me have never been the result of an over active imagination. My monsters are a little thing we call anxiety. As I sit here five days from my 23rd birthday, I have more monsters than ever before. My monsters have grown into stronger, faster, meaner creatures. Not only do these monsters keep me up at night and make me physically sick, these monsters slowly crawl up my entire body and smother me. 

It feels like drowning. One (maybe more) of my monsters has me by the ankle and they're pulling me under the surface. I kick and I fight, I desperately fight to keep my head above water and to break free of this heaviness dragging me down but slowly I lose and my lungs start to fill with water. When this happens I take a little "helper" as the doctor called it. Maybe wash it down with a sip of wine and 2-4 puffs of my inhaler to open up my airways. 

At this point you can count on someone telling me "it isn't that big of a deal calm down." If you take anything from this article, please let it be this- anxiety is one of the most self reflective disorders out there. The second you make someone feel as though their concerns and fears are silly, you invalidate them. For me to hear that the very thoughts that are crippling me would never effect someone else immediately makes me think "What's wrong with me?" and "Why am I like this?"

Just this year as a second year senior in college I have put a name and diagnosis to my monsters. The helpers I mentioned previously have only been around for a couple of months and I have only told four people about them. They came about after a night where I woke up around 3am already entirely under water and unable to break any cycle of thought. This night, I wished for the first time since I was a little girl that I didn't wake up in the morning. I'm not ashamed of my anxiety. Rather I choose to be stronger than it. Most people wouldn't understand that out of nowhere I can end up a teary eyed mess that can't take a full breath for my life. They definitely wouldn't understand that anxiety attacks often manifest into itchy little hives and pesky migraines. The most frustrating aspect of all of this? Sometimes I'm not even sure what's getting to me. My brain isn't thinking clearly and my chest feels as though its collapsing under the weight of a thousand pounds but ultimately theres no one reason. 

No one needs to know any of that. 

Instead, what I hope to share with the world is that I get out of bed everyday and put a smile on my face. My goal every day is to share a smile with someone in need. I aspire to take care of my parents, my friends and my boyfriend. I need them and they need me. 

Time is still my biggest, strongest monster. I feel as though he wins more often than not. As a matter of fact he won today, yesterday and three of the four days before that. Not tomorrow. 

1 comment

  1. All I can say is "wow." The second I started reading this, it was like reading my own story right back to me. Monsters in the closet and all. Anxiety is one of the scariest monsters to face, and those of us who struggle with it face it every day, and sometimes the world discredits it. They think that because we don't physically look ill that we aren't actually dealing with anything important. Mental health takes the back burner, and that's sad and scary for those who are dealing with it on a larger scale - like my dad, who's been on disability since I was 17 because he literally is too anxious to shower most days. And anxiety so often leads to depression, which is even more frightening when you're dealing with both of them. So much weight on your chest all day long, and so often there are very few people who can relate. It's incredible that you had the courage to share your story. Being vulnerable like this is so brave, and it helps people like me feel ... not so alone. Thank you, girly. You keep fighting. You're so worth it. That anxiety doesn't even know what it's up against <3

    Stephanie |


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