Hey guys, My name is Amanda, and I want to tell you a few things. The first (and probably most important) is this: IT’s okay! Some of you are probably wondering what ‘It’ is, and how do I know It’s okay?
It took me a very long time to come to terms with and accept a whole lot of things about myself. My anxiety is a part of me, and yeah, it makes me afraid of some things others might find silly, but I have also learned that fear is an entirely personal emotion and that it is 100% okay for me to be afraid of these quirky things. Believe me, the moment I realized this, a huge weight was lifted. I no longer feel pressured to do things that terrify me or make me feel uncomfortable simply because my friends enjoy it, or because it’s what I think normal people are doing. I now see that I am my own normal, and I have the confidence to say “no, I am not going to do that because I am not ok with it.” Or, “It’s just not my thing”.
I suffer from depression, anxiety and PTSD. As a result of some of these things, I have a huge fear of (to put it as simply as possible) not being in control of a situation. For me that means Roller coasters are out. I won’t touch a drink I didn’t open myself. It means panic attacks whenever I am in a vehicle and someone else is driving, or weather happens. It means I can’t drink alcohol. For me this is huge. I was a big social drinker when I was younger and I can’t even tell you how many people look at me like I am crazy when I now tell them I don’t drink. I’ll even go to the bars with my friends but I will not/cannot drink, and I am okay with that. Someone’s gotta DD right?
Being a passenger in a car is probably the most difficult for me to deal with. Both flying and taking the train are much easier for me to deal with, though on occasion both of those create a smaller amount of that anxious feeling as well. In the car that I am not in control of however my mind creates elaborate scenarios all involving horrific results. That car pulling into the lane next to us? My mind doesn’t trust him to stay in his own lane. Stopping at a red light? Who’s to say the girl behind me is not going to step on her gas instead of her breaks? If it’s not other people, I question the vehicle’s integrity. Maybe that tire is loose and will fall off? What if the engine falls out or the brakes fail? I have been in small accidents. I have blown a tire . Neither incident is or was as bad as imagined, yet It doesn’t matter, the fear is still there, the anxiety just as real. Every. Single. Day. Sometimes it hits me in bursts. Sweaty palms and a tingly heated feeling beginning at the top of my spine, right in my neck. Other times it creeps up on me slowly, a little bit at a time.
Fear is a feeling that may be unique on a person-to-person basis, but is just as real for me as it may be for all of you. Sometimes I need to adjust my life around my fears, and that sucks. There’s no sugar coating it because it really is unfair. But it’s a fact, one I’m dealing with in the best way I am able and so are you. I may have to pull over until the rain passes, or miss out on the super fun new drinking game, but that’s okay. There are other things I am afraid of as well. Not a fan bugs, clowns or heights (unless I am in a plane) and you’ll never see me skydive, but there are other things that I do not fear that others may. I may panic in a car, but I’ve swam with sharks in the Atlantic. So my message to anyone who is reading this is :
YOU are not alone. Your fears are OKAY no matter what they are. They are not a weakness but a tool you can use. Accept what you are afraid of and let it be, then relish in what you can do easily. I assure you someone somewhere struggles with it. Not all of our fears have to be faced head-on. I don’t believe that is the only way to be courageous. Sometimes acceptance takes just as much courage and I think it’s very likely that YOU are strong. If you have dealt with mental illness of any kind, if you have made it far enough to find yourself reading this, you are stronger than you realize and you’re going to be OKAY.