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Rewind to Seventeen Years Ago

I had an incredibly difficult journey throughout my twenties. My chronic anxiety officially began at twenty years old during my first pregnancy; it was the beginning of the storm. I can remember being somewhat anxious when I was little, but this was a new level of full-force anxiety I had never experienced before. My feet never seemed to hit the ground and my head was always in the clouds. It seemed like I was just floating through waves of sadness, fear, and anxiety. Even though I was so excited to have a baby, I was so scared at the same time. I kept thinking, “What if I can’t do it? What if I don’t do a good job? What if I’m not smart enough to teach him everything he needs to know?” I also felt every single physical change my body was going through, and it was extremely intensified. I became afraid of every single feeling in my body, and I feared the worst—that something horrible was wrong with me. I was afraid of everything; no matter what I did, I felt like I was trapped in my mind. My mind was constantly racing, and I was sad even though my life was pretty good.

I can remember getting really depressed if it wasn’t sunny outside. I’d obsessively check the weather to determine my fate each day. If they called for storms, I’d brace myself for a downward spiral and crippling fear. I was terrified of loud noises, particularly fire engines and thunderstorms. One day, I left work crying because it was thundering. I just couldn’t deal with the noise. I had to go home and sit on my bed under the covers. When I was eight months pregnant, on the 4th of July, a huge parade filled with fire engines and hundreds of people in their red, white, and blue, shaking their noisemakers and blowing their whistles, came down our street.

I began to cry and went into my closet to sit, covering my ears to get as far away as possible from the noise. I always felt like I needed to crawl under something, just put myself in a safe place, lock the door, and throw away the key. But there was a problem…nowhere felt safe to me. “If only I could crawl out of my skin and leave this crippled, heavy shell behind,” I thought. I couldn’t even imagine what was happening to me. “I must be crazy,” I thought. I had no control whatsoever. I couldn’t wait to give birth so these feelings would go away. Despite the emotional whirlwind and fear that I experienced almost daily during pregnancy, when I was twentyone years old I gave birth to a healthy, beautiful baby boy, whom I named Christian.

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