BY ODELIA LALEHZARIAN
*Trigger Warning: Mental Health, Anxiety, Weight, Death/Suicide*
Dear Oxford Languages,
You define anxiety like this:
Anxiety (noun): a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.
I propose a new definition:
Anxiety (a monster): Not being able to eat, sleep, or drink. Medications. More medications. Therapy, and even more therapy. Nervous rashes and hives. Panic attacks. Acne. Bouncy knees. A constant lump in your throat. Being underweight, or overweight. Hair falling out in clumps. Not being able to breathe. Feeling hot and overwhelmed. A racing heart. Biting your nails. Picking your skin. Cancelling plans. Absences from school. Broken relationships. An over-aware sense of your surroundings. Salty tears. Doctors notes and crumpled up prescription receipts at the bottom of your purse. A constant sense of fear, even when there is nothing to be afraid of.
I didn’t “have” anxiety. Anxiety owned me.
It has been four and a half years since Anxiety took over my life.
Four years ago, I wouldn’t leave my bed. I had every single symptom I stated above, even more and worse. I weighed 90 pounds and I was a senior in high school. I was miserable.
To this day, I go to therapy. I take my meds. I push myself to do the things I am anxious about just so I can realize, both physically and mentally, they are not as terrifying or deadly as I think they are.
Now, I can freely leave my bed and participate in the world. I’m not saying it’s easy, or that I don’t wake up feeling anxious, or that I don’t experience any of those symptoms. But I am the healthiest and happiest I have been in years.
You are so much more than Anxiety. You are never alone. As the person whom everyone had given up on, the one who was expected to die or end her life before she graduated high school, I can tell you I defeated the odds. I am here today, writing about the very thing that tried to kill me years ago.
We are in this together.
Anxiety doesn’t own me. I own me.
Odelia Lalehzarian is a senior studying Political Philosophy and Communications and Rhetorical Studies on the Pre-Law Track. Outside of her studies, she is involved with several Jewish organizations as well as cooking and swimming.