Monday, January 2, 2017

Strong Enough

 The Omaha World-Herald newspaper ran an article by Dirk Chatelain that extended to almost two pages, and with great reason! The subject was Adam Dejka, a senior at Papillion-La Vista South.

Now, Adam's case is pretty severe, from what I've read, but I just want to highlight his will to excel regardless of the situation. I hope you get a copy of this article and read it because he is the reason why I am here today to talk about anxiety and its effect on my life. Adam has paved the way and showed strength throughout his entire life, and I think it is time to speak out and let others know that they're not alone --the same way Adam's story made me feel.

One thing you should know about me is, I love talking to people, meeting new people, getting to know their stories. I believe I am a good listener and a good friend, but I AM TERRIFIED OF PEOPLE!
I know it doesn't make sense, but I don't know how else to explain it. As I type this and think about being social, I am trembling and my heart rate is going 100mph. I feel my body heavy and light at the same time, and it gets hard to breathe, and the physical pain on my chest, back, arms, and legs is unreasonable. The whole experience leaves me exhausted, a tingle through my body, and with a headache. The worst is not knowing when it's going to happen; I know being out surrounded by big crowds is a trigger, but it doesn't occur frequently. I still try to avoid them anyway.

I remember I was 14 years old when I went to a teacher and tried to tell her about this, but she gave me a smirk and said, "It's all in your head, Adrian." And I was dismissed. For the longest time, I kept it all in my head, to myself; after all, nobody likes a drama queen, an attention seeker. So I found ways to release the fear, stress, or worries; from pinching, to hitting myself with a rubber band, to cutting. I have been shamed to reveal this part of my life, one because I'm a male and two because (again) nobody likes "petty" people playing the victim.

When I turned 21 and I started to go out, I had to drink to remain "social".  I know my limit, and I know when to stop, but I couldn't let that become a habit. I am not financially stable to drink my social anxiety away. But more that anything, I am not going to risk myself and others by driving under the influence. I do not want to depend on alcohol to make the moment count. I don't want to make memories that I won't even remember.

     So the people that have read this blog from day one, you may have noticed whenever I attended a show or event, I always mentioned I got my usual drink (Jack & Coke, if you feel generous when you see me out). I am not an alcoholic, I can promise you that. I knew that three drinks were my limit to avoid awkwardness and drunkenness; just the perfect buzz "to have fun." I justified my actions by telling myself that I am an adult and I can do as I please. Well, not so much! As I was told by a very loving person I know, "No one can do whatever they want as long as there is someone that cares about them."

A coworker kept insisting until I finally talked to my doctor about this issue, and I am now on medication. It is embarrassing to come clean about this, but Adam's story made me feel strong enough to do so. I do not know if Adam is on meds, and it's irrelevant, but I do know that I am not alone. Coworkers and friends also suffer of anxiety, beautiful people that I never thought would have anything to be anxious about! But reality is, it can happen to anyone. It varies from person to person. But it still sucks nonetheless.

If there is anything you can get out of this post, don't let it be the curiosity of what pills I am on. Instead, please be the ally to people coming to you for help or just an ear to listen. Don't be like that teacher I went up to for help, with the little and all strength my teen self gathered; she shooed me away stating that depression and anxiety only happens to women. If a person approaches you with something (anything!), it must be because they appreciate and value your opinion. Stay strong out there and keep taking one day at the time!

[...Relax. Take it Easy.]

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